Vail Design at Altitude column: Organic inspiration can be found anywhere | VailDaily.com
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Vail Design at Altitude column: Organic inspiration can be found anywhere

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

Organic materials surround us — sometimes we don’t even realize how wonderful the materials fit into home design. We’re lucky — bits of nature are all around, and I love to incorporate these elements into homes. Sometimes, though, transferring nature from outside to inside feels daunting or can feel out of place.

I’m lucky because I get to hunt (and find) niche artisans. There are so many talented artisans right here in the valley; they truly make this community special, and many take their cue from nature, whether it’s colorful paintings of flowers or abstract structures created from Mother Nature’s best work.

Bit of Warmth and Style



I’ve always been enamored with sliced-wood tables. They fit perfectly into our mountain region. Now, though, the rest of the world is catching on and falling in love with this look. The tables are freeform and add warmth and a bit of style that can’t be replicated from a mass-produced piece of furniture. The wood has character that the artisan works into the piece; what might be seen as a flaw from a large furniture maker can be a signature style when custom made and designed. During the process of purchasing, as well, you really get to know the artist and build a rapport.

Another look we love and that updates a home nicely is that of using barn wood on your walls or for a custom sliding door. It can feel modern, contemporary, classic or rustic and is definitely a special accent. Hand-wrought iron pieces nicely compliment the barn wood. Try an iron railing or light fixture, in as ornate or simple of a pattern that attracts you. Wrought iron looks just as stunning next to natural stone, too.



Stone Cold?

Speaking of stone, it’s one of the oldest building materials and takes on, and lends to, the life in your home. Far from being cold, it’s warming and has hidden colors and textures that you’ll notice the more you live with it. Nothing compares to real stone. We rely on it for fireplaces, on walls and even furniture made of stone feels very natural in a home.

Bring Them Home



Just as I love spending time outdoors, summer, spring, summer and fall, I love to bring the outdoors inside. We all love to get out and about this time of year, whether it’s taking a hike in East Vail, biking in Eagle or strolling through our neighborhood with friends. I challenge you: When you’re out and about, find organic pieces that speak to you and bring them home.

The easiest way to bring nature into your design is to, quite literally, pick it up and bring it in. Small rocks can dot your windowsill, each with a special meaning or interesting coloring. Paint a few rocks and display them throughout your house. Use them on your patio to keep the tablecloth from flying away. Write your guests’ names on a rock for a unique place card.

Look at branches and find a few that fit into a large vase for a commanding centerpiece. Paint them or add little crystal ornaments that catch the light and make your room and your mood sparkle. Take a trek come spring to find shed antlers — paint them or wrap them in yarn for a super cool twist on the natural world.

Just as natural but more of a commitment are painted natural hides. They can do double duty as either art on the wall or for a floor covering.

I hope that I’ve got you thinking about how to bring the natural world indoors. The next time you are outside, picture how great some of Mother Nature’s finest would look in your home.

Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs. She loves roaming in nature and finding inspiration in outdoors.


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