Vail Design at Altitude column: Don’t neglect the living room when updating your home |

Vail Design at Altitude column: Don’t neglect the living room when updating your home

Special to the Daily
Kimberly Gavin | Special to the Daily |

Now that the holidays are behind us and days are getting longer, it’s the perfect time to dig into more substantial home projects. There’s so much focus on kitchen and bathroom updates that we can forget to update the room where life happens: the living room.

We recently completed a project that I am in love with. The home is in an amazing location in Vail with views like no other. But the interior felt sad and was dark. The owners had used it as vacation home for years but hadn’t really committed to the home … until recently when they decided it was time to make the inside as stunning as the outside. It’s hard to compete with Mother Nature, but by incorporating touches of nature, light, color and interesting accessories, we think we gave her a run for the money.

The living room was extremely dark with terrible lighting. The high ceilings, which we normally love, fought against us because they, too, were dark wood. The dark walls further dampened the feel of the space. Combined with dull, outdated leathers, the room was blah. And worse, it didn’t represent the owners at all.

We had this dream project in front of us and ran with it. While we worked on the project, I made a lot of notes for future projects and updates that many of us can do, but that we might simply over look. What’s the best part of updating a living room? It can be done in small steps or as a complete overhaul.

Playing Multiple Roles

The living room in many of our homes plays multiple roles: It has to feel elegant without being stuffy; it needs to seat many without feeling either cramped or having sparse furnishings; while bright lights can kill a mood, dark lighting can make us feel lethargic.

So when you decide to revamp your living room, first ask what you want from the space. Is it to welcome guests? A playroom for grandkids? The game room for family gatherings? A library? It might be all of the above. Living rooms are no longer the rooms that are cordoned off for guests only — that’s simply not the way we like to live or entertain out here. A living room, today, reflects your lifestyle.

Find Interesting Light Fixtures

Our clients enjoy a lively social circle here in Vail — they enjoy having visitors. The home simply did not reflect that. First off, lighting. Light fixtures themselves are just as important as the light they emit. Mountainside homes can go from blaring white light from the snow glare to dark, cavern-feeling spaces when the sun goes down. Find an interesting light fixture, one that speaks to you but that won’t feel dated in three or four years. And always go for the dimmer switch.

If you love dark paneling, then don’t rip it. But use the warm tone and work in lighter colors and textures with sofas, pillows, throws and even the coffee table. Gone are the days (thank goodness) of matchy-matchy. Conversely, if your room is white on white on white, treat it like the blank canvas that it is. Paint an accent wall, or go for color all around. Hang bold art on one of the larger walls.

One more tip — find the right window treatments. Don’t block out all the gorgeous Colorado light with heavy drapery or dark blinds. Have the window treatments add personality to the room, not detract from the simple beauty you’ve created inside.

Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs. She loves creating, and re-creating, inspired living spaces from ocean-side to mountainside.

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