Design Life column: An interior designer takes her own advice |

Design Life column: An interior designer takes her own advice

Nancy Sanford
Design Notes
Modern living-room interior.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

It was time to take my own advice

It’s easy to recall special memories associated with photos, scents and music. But with furniture? I didn’t really think that was possible. Now I know better — and I understand how home decor can suffer when you’re overly sentimental.

We all tend to hold onto furniture pieces way past their usefulness. As an interior designer, I have helped many clients freshen up their homes by replacing old furniture with new pieces. In my own home, however, I was reluctant to heed some of the recommendations that I’d freely passed along to others.

I recently moved from my home of 16 years. Although we were very comfortable and settled in, it was time to start anew and freshen things up.

The first stage of moving required putting on my interior designer’s hat. As I’ve done with many clients over the years, I selected some furniture pieces that simply needed to go.

“That looks tired, that looks dated, give it away,” was my mantra but I found myself arguing with my inner soul. “I love that, we’ve traveled a lot of life together,” was the counter-argument.

This type of internal debate went on and on, for almost every piece of worn-out, no-longer-my-style furniture. It seemed the more dated a piece was, the tighter my grip.

The conflict peaked with my 20-year-old bedroom set, finely crafted of knotty pine with oversized posts. Just a glimpse of these wooden pieces transported me back to our first days in the Colorado mountains. Sure, the set was old and faded — but there was a certain nostalgia that overwhelmed me.

It was then that I realized it was much more than a bedroom set. It represented fond memories. We bought the set shortly after moving from New York to Colorado, discovering our mountain connection through furniture.

One time, in the middle of the night, the dresser cracked, awakening us with a noise so loud it sounded like a bomb. A few weeks later, the furniture maker replaced the dresser, explaining to us the effects of high altitude on furniture, not to mention human skin (yikes!).

At that point, I knew we couldn’t keep any of the old pieces. Their time had come and gone. And I had finally come to grips with not wanting them anymore. That old furniture represented a lot of why we were moving in the first place. I have no regrets. Actually, we could have tossed out more. And when I look at our home makeover, I feel energized. The new decor is fantastic and we love it.

Once in a while, however, a little sadness creeps in. I think about my knotty pine bedroom set and all the great things that happened in 1992. I moved to the mountains of Colorado, we bought our first house and I met my best friend.

And I bought a whole lot of great new furniture.

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 area for the past 12 years. For more information, visit or e-mail

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