The art of the remodel: Red Pepper Design

Margie McCulloch moved to Colorado for the mountains, the sky, the sunshine, and the progressive thinking.

In a previous life, McCulloch lived in Ohio, working as a photographer and set designer primarily for print advertising. It was here that the future designer began purchasing homes to fix up and resell generating enough success that realtors began referring clients to her.

Her background in commercial photography and set design paved the way for her career as an interior designer and surprisingly, so did her experience as an RN.

“I always focus on storage and accessibility before visual design. Indoor air quality is my number one priority in regard to environmental friendliness.” McCulloch credits her medical background for her design priorities.

She designed her own line of cabinets, American Loft (soon to be Red Pepper Cabinets), constructed of non-toxic materials and water base glues and finishes. She explains how indoor air quality can be sacrificed during home remodels. When building materials are brought into the home before they have had the chance to off-gas, the toxic chemicals are released into the home. Red Pepper Cabinets don’t need time to off-gas since no toxic materials are used.

A prime example of Margie's modern-yet-eclectic design.

A prime example of Margie’s modern-yet-eclectic design.

The designer’s health conscious ways reflect well on the Boulder community’s view of non-toxic living–she was even the first president of the Boulder Green Building Guild (2006-2008).

“To me that is non-negotiable, it’s in everything I do,” McCulloch says, “All my own cabinets are eco-friendly. It’s not a question of ‘Do you want?,’ it just is.”

According to Margie, a home’s bathrooms,and kitchen are the most important renovations a homeowner can make to add value to their home. Everything else, she says, can usually be fixed with a few coats of paint and some new furniture.

Most of her kitchen remodels involve opening up the space. “That’s how people live now—the loft concept has migrated to single family homes,” McCulloch says. She’s even converted her own 1954 bungalow into a loft-style home.

“The best compliment I ever received from a client was that my design ‘changed our family culture at dinnertime,’ McCulloch recalls, “The impact of the design of a space–lighting, the flow, colors–impacts us in ways we might not be conscious of.” In every home, the kitchen is a multi-functional space the designer says, a place for eating, homework, projects, and socializing; “I’ve always got a project going on my center island.”


The design that won Margie ‘Kitchen of the Year’ in 2011.

Margie credits her photography background for her attention to sightlines. Her most important design advice is to always leave space for art, especially in the kitchen. She designs kitchens in a way that allows a piece of artwork to be seen when viewing from other rooms, rather than an appliance.

Margie describes her design as “modern with touches of eclectic, colorful, worldly items.” She uses lamps and interesting rugs to add acoustics that make a space feel cozy while remaining functional. She calls on local artists and craftsmen to add such cozy-functional touches to the homes she designs.

With her eco-friendly approach, non-toxic materials, and local business support, Red Pepper Design seems to have found a permanent home on West Pearl Street.

With little building, remodeling is the norm for the Boulder housing market. For more photos of Margie McCulloch’s work, visit



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