Precious Pieces 7

Kentucky-born Susan HOOK Picon takes inspiration from pieces with a past

Kentucky native Susan HOOK Picon knows all about taking change.  

The daughter of a successful automobile-dealer father and interior-designer mother, she learned at a young age about quality antiques and tasteful design. “We always had the most beautiful home in the neighborhood,” says Picon. “My mother would decorate her friends’ homes for free.”

So it was no surprise that Susan hired herself as general contractor when she decided to build her dream home in 1998, a year-long project that had her slogging through mud and directing work crews.

What culminated was the 12,500-square-foot Belvedere—literally, ”taking advantage of a view”—that infuses Southern charm and hospitality into the characteristic symmetry of a 17th-century French country mansion.

Expansive, breaktaking views accented with glimpses of eagles, elk, deer, antelope, coyotes, fox and birds, were not all that inspired the home. 

“I literally knew where every piece of furniture was going to be placed and where every picture was going to go,” said Picon. And that started with key pieces from Denver’s rich history. 

“I built the house around this bar that I’d long been in love with,” said Picon, who rescued it, along with 11 original barstools and a magnificent mahogany back bar, from the famed Brown Palace, by way of the long-closed Stapleton International Airport.  

Dividing the exquisite gourmet kitchen and the Great Room, the “pièce de ré·sis·tance” immediately draws in the kindred spirit who like to “saddle up” to their surroundings and bond with their hosts.  

While living in her lovingly built mansion is “just like heaven,” Susan can already see in her mind’s eye the next home she’ll build. “The next one will be more rustic,” said Susan. Built around a beloved piece, to be sure.


Nothing says “Come, sit and talk with me” like adding barstools to your kitchen or great room. And while you’re at it, be bold with color. Use the 60-30-10 rule—60% dominant color, 30% secondary color, 10% accent color—to add a bold accent to your motif.