Vail Daily design column: Inspiring vignettes and ARTS accolades |

Vail Daily design column: Inspiring vignettes and ARTS accolades

Susan Ferrari
Design at Altitude
Add warmth to your home with bursts of gold or brass.
Ric Stovall | Special to the Daily |

The inspiring vignette. The just-so buffet setup. The unique piece of art. The cozy bedroom and perfectly set dining table. We love to bring a different design aesthetic to our Edwards showroom every week. We get to “shop” at our warehouse in Eagle and create rooms designed to inspire, interest and motivate shoppers.

During our 30 year history, we have created spaces that range from a cabin-in-the-woods feel (hand-carved bears, anyone?) to modern, contemporary homes. While our designers are creating homes, our retail staff creates vignettes, something that can inspire you, me or our neighbor down the street.

It’s fun and challenging to use unique pieces and tie them in to a truly livable space. While we often get compliments on our showroom, we recently were nominated for the sought-after ARTS Award.

The ARTS Awards, presented each January during the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market, recognizes top manufacturers, retailers, designers and sales representatives from across the world; it’s billed as the premier international awards program dedicated to the home industry. (ART is the creative home furnishings network.)

We are so excited to be nominated because it’s a peer-nominated award; we couldn’t apply for i or lobby for it — one of our vendors (or maybe more) nominated us. With all we have done this summer — the pop-up store in Vail, the 30 Days of Design celebration in conjunction with our 30th anniversary and our annual loading dock sale — it’s exciting to be recognized in a national contest.

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So how do we go about keeping our showroom and the vignettes fresh? It’s a weekly endeavor and is no easy task. Kim DeGroat, our visual merchandiser, starts planning almost as soon as one is set. And while she might have an idea in her head, many times the key piece she is going to create the room around is sold! Although it’s fun to mix and match and “make things work,” in the words of Tim Gunn, the look has to be cohesive and believable. And the details matter. We don’t leave the same artwork up week after week while recreating the room.

We rely on our steady stream of new product coming in from our different buying trips. We recently got back from New York City’s NY Now Market, where we replenished our accessories and saw some amazing new ideas (quartz for one).

When the offseason doldrums struck, we decided it was time to refresh the paint — we have a parakeet green room, a soft lilac gray and a bold dark gray. The paint is the background for many designs, but it has to be interesting in its own right. We’ve had comments on the colors and many of the stores’ visitors ask for the specific color so they can do something similar in their own homes. We love that!

When opened our first store almost 30 years ago, and we lavished attention, accessories and inspiration on that nook of a space. We’ve moved locations and now love having our design studio above our retail space.

When Beth (Slifer) founded Slifer Designs in 1984, the west was very much about rustic camps: The more wood, the cozier it seemed. Skiers came in the winter; summer was not yet popular. Over the years summer has become almost as popular as the winters, and as such, the styles have changed. No more dark browns, rustic log cabins or tiny windows: Let’s let in the light! The shop is very reflective of these transformations. We have an eclectic mix of contemporary and clean lines along with traditional and cozy.

So if you need a little inspiration, stop by. We love to chat with our clients and help them find the perfect item, allowing them to create their own special vignettes at home.

Susan Ferrari is the vice president of retail operations with Slifer Designs. She’s been with Slifer Designs for 15 years and travels the United States looking for just the right pieces for the retail showroom.

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