Design elements vary by region |

Design elements vary by region

I create interior designs for homes in various regions — in the mountains, city and country. The basic technique and process is virtually the same for all. I study and analyze the architecture, layout and style of each structure before exploring various design options.

Depending on the locale, however, there can be significant differences in the design. Most of the time, it’s not a conscious thing. I never really say to myself, “This project is in the city so I’ll use less pattern.” The design just seems to evolve organically and intuitively.

Here are some of the characteristics of “regional” design:

Mountain homes

They tend to be hardier, more practical and user-friendly. When rooms contain ski gear, bicycles and other sporting equipment — as well as sore bodies — a different set of design criteria is needed (when compared to a city residence).

The equipment and apparel usually found in a mountain home require a different type of storage. People with aching muscles want comfortable, and roomy, sofas and chairs. Design elements that demonstrate pride in Rocky Mountain life are incorporated.

Homes in the Rockies frequently make abundant use of stone and wood that enhance a sense of the region’s uniqueness. Guest rooms and guest suites are perhaps more important than in other places because people tend to come more often and stay longer.

Heavier and more comfortable fabrics generally work well in mountain homes.

City homes

Space is usually at a premium in city homes so special care and planning go into every design decision. You always have to think, “Where should I put this and what’s the best way to use the space?”

Utilizing every square foot is imperative for optimum storage — and for creating a nice, livable space. In some cases, we ask the rooms to multi-task; for example, a family room can double as a home office. And with less room to play with, the design tends to be more consistent throughout the home. Using similar designs makes the space less choppy and it actually feels larger.

Fabrics tend to be slicker, finer and shinier. Solid colors and less ornate furnishings — with cleaner lines and fewer curves — work well in these situations.

Country homes

Classic designs with layered patterns look right at home in the country. Antiques are almost always a good fit and the use of many colors tends to accentuate the natural surroundings. Eclectic designs, even busy patterns and styles, generally work well.

Design sensibilities remain the same wherever we live. Our sense of style doesn’t really change. When our lifestyle requirements vary, however, so do our homes.

Nancy Sanford, owner of Nancy Sanford Interior Design, is an award-winning interior designer who has been transforming residential and commercial spaces in the Vail Valley for the past 12 years. For more information, visit http://www.nancy or email

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