Vail Daily column: Thinking outside the design box |

Vail Daily column: Thinking outside the design box

Yvonne Jacobs
Design at Altitude
Vintage window on rustic cedar boards
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

We love finding the latest, hottest trends, fashions and finds. Our buying team just got back from a home goods and accessories show in Texas that was full of fun, beautiful items — many of which we just had to have (think jewelry, eyeglasses with a vision of giving back and Colorado-made body product, just to name a few).

But it’s just as fun to find the one-of-a-kind upcycled, recycled, repurposed item, whether it’s a candy-wrapper purse or a wineglass-turned-votive-holder, it’s the little things that can make a house a home. We’ve culled through dozens of “hacks” to find some that just might inspire you to think outside the design center for the most interesting addition to your summer decor.

I use cloth napkins most nights. They make the table a little more sophisticated even when I’m dining with connoisseurs of macaroni and cheese and experts of spilled milk. I don’t often use napkin rings, however. Then I saw brass napkin rings that were originally shower curtain rings. For about five dollars each, you can add a little bling to the table.


While you’re at your favorite neighborhood hardware store, get a large piece of sheet metal. (Be careful, the corners are very sharp.) Attach it to an out-of-the-way hallway at home and you have the perfect place to display your kids’ artwork, schedules and homework. Best of all? It’s not on the refrigerator and they will rearrange the magnets and artwork for you.

Head over to the paint aisle and pick up a gallon of chalkboard paint. I have a little-used nook in my kitchen that I painted with chalkboard paint, added a few small shelves and arranged my spices there. They are all clearly labeled, and now I have an entire shelf available in what was my spice cupboard. Now that’s winning.


This one is definitely more than an easy weekend project — it may require a handyman — but will be worth it. Convert that wasted space under your stairs into shelving or even storage drawers.

While your handyman is measuring and cutting for your under-stair area, you’ll have time to work on another project.


My sister-in-law decorated the cutest stemless wineglasses for me this winter. She simply painted colorful dots on a set of inexpensive wine glasses, baked them in the oven and now I have a personalized set of glasses that are easy to tell apart. No need for wine charms. They look just like Anthropologie’s confetti tumblers, but they are personalized and much less expensive.


I can’t get my husband on board with this idea — but maybe you can. I saw the edge of my friend’s door painted a bright bold lime green. It’s cheery and immediately made me smile. Could be fun for the kid’s rooms or the powder room.

Since you used the shower curtain rings on your dining table, you’ll need something to hang the curtains. Raffia? Rope? Brightly colored fabric scraps all look nice, are easy to do and cost next to nothing. If you decide you hate the look, take them down and try again.

This idea is not for everyone, but I love the look. It won’t be a short project, but it will stand out. Find a butterfly template, trace dozens of butterflies, cut them out and install them in a fun “flying” pattern in a hallway or on a large blank wall. This replicates some very high-end design and adds a 3D punch to your wall.

One last idea — if you have some old windows, replace the glass panes with mirrors for a large wall. This has more of a country-chic feel to it, but it works in the right space and right house.

Have fun, think outside the box and share some of your most creative design ideas with us.

Yvonne Jacobs has been designing for more than two decades and is the president of Slifer Designs. She loves finding the unexpected element and incorporating it into everyday design.

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