Art in the Interior: How Slifer Designs Helps Bring Your Spirit into Your Home

Art in the Interior: How Slifer Designs Helps Bring Your Spirit into Your Home
In this project at The Hythe, designers from Slifer Designs incorporated wildlife paintings into the overall look.
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Slifer Designs’ tagline, “Designed for Your Story,” applies to all aspects of interior design, but one of the main ways it comes into play is through art. Just like the creativity, technique and skill that goes into generating a unique work of art, its placement in the home takes a special eye.

It all starts with listening deeply to customers about what they want and how they use their space. This discovery process acts as an inspiration to begin the design process. While they install the furnishings and finishes, and handle all the logistics, they also pay special attention to the artwork.

“Art is a great way to bring the client’s spirit into the home,” said Oshi Gardarian, principal designer at Slifer Designs.



A feather painting works well in this bedroom designed by Slifer Designs.
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While it’s easy to choose eye-catching pieces, it’s not always easy to know where to place them, how to choose the right scale for a wall or room, or how to carefully group smaller items.

“We try to think of design as a story. When you walk through the house, you want it to be the same story.” Oshi Gardarian, Slifer Designs

Gardarian recommends sticking to your region first—in this case, art that reflects the natural environment, from mountains and forests to Rocky Mountain wildlife. For example, a recent redesign of a penthouse in The Hythe building in Lionshead includes depictions of deer, from a triptych to mounts of Pendelton upholstered mules and a piece portraying a mother deer with her babies.

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“We try to think of design as a story. When you walk through the house, you want it to be the same story,” Gardarian said.

Vail Valley’s history undoubtedly involves skiing, and many houses have displayed vintage wooden skis, but Gardarian prefers more unexpected ways to display vintage gear. In a recent project, the Slifer Designs team mixed a pair of old red children’s skis with old pickaxes and other vintage mountain gear on a barn wood wall. She has also mounted old family items, such as clothing, in a shadow box for display.

Sculptures can become an integral part of a wall.
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“We look for art in unexpected things, not just wall hangings,” she said.

An example that fuses industrial items with a mountain feel came in the form of cast iron oil barrel lids with a new finish. A gray fabric bucket that stretches the width of the guest bedroom in Hythe’s penthouse adds a cozy feel, while the silver metal brings an interesting contrast, both visually and texturally. Another recent Slifer Designs project included a 20-foot totem pole that people can interact with, while Penthouse at The Hythe featured sculptural iron climbers hanging from a wall in the three-bedroom residence.

“Art is a reflection of the environment,” she said.

Pulling color from different paintings or photographs in the form of pillows, area rugs or bedding is also an effective way to incorporate art into rooms. For example, instead of painting the bedroom walls a shade of blue or green, which can feel overwhelming, simply adding matching accessories with art helps everything look cohesive.

Smaller collections are always a bit tricky, but the key is to group them together while still leaving enough negative space around them so they don’t look cluttered.

“Sometimes, when you have an eclectic wall, it’s easy for it to look (disorganized),” she said. “You have to have a good sense of negative space. Don’t fill every space so that all the little pieces feel special.”

Artwork graces a fireplace in this Slifer Designs project at The Hythe.
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Using the same frames also benefits groupings, but when paintings and photographs aren’t displayed in groups, it’s okay to include different styles of frames or even print them on metal or Plexiglas, she said.

Choosing the right scale for the space is extremely important. A small portrait will be lost on a large wall, and a large piece will look imposing in a smaller area. The main focal point for art often sits above a fireplace in the great room, so Slifer Designs suggests leaving that space empty for a bit if homeowners aren’t sure what they want; that way, they can search for that special piece that tells a story of their travels, passions or pursuit of art.

Traditional wildlife inspires these mixed media wall hangings.
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And, of course, lighting acts as jewelry in the home, not only illuminating individual pieces, but also standing as a piece of art in its own right. In a recent project, Slifer Designs used alabaster as a theme throughout the lamps, sconces and a chandelier.

“Decorative lighting is one way to make a real impact,” she said. “It’s like little stones that help elevate the design.”

Lighting is an important part of any room.
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