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Jacobs chose soft, textural, family-friendly furnishings for a modern living room. Ralph Lauren brown velvet covers the sectional sofa, and Ralph Lauren’s cream leather ‘Colorado’ chair is accented with nailhead trim. The custom draperies are washed linen, and the buddha figure is from strange imports of Glenwood Springs.

Collector’s Notebook: Responsive Design

With an instinctive knack for knowing just what her clients will want, need and love, Slifer Designs’ Yvonne Jacobs creates comfortable, personal and richly layered interiors

Written by Eliza Cross  

Eliza Cross

Other Contributions

On the Ranch Perfect Accord New Classic Style Wide Open Spaces Hillside Haven Denver Botanical Gardens Unveils New Science Pyramid Meeting in the Middle Designing the West: Peaceful Retreats Designing the West: Fresh Western Designing the West: Holistic Design Wanderings: Boulder, Colorado Designing the West: Success in Simplification Designing the West: Harmonious Trio Designing the West: Multi-Discipline Design Designing the West: Comfort and Joy Rendering: Inspired Placemakers Western Landmark: The Broadmoor Designing the West: Balancing Form and Function Collector’s Eye: Rose Fredrick Designing the West: Simply Divine Designing the West: Reimagined and Repurposed Rendering: Architecture From the Ground Up Rendering: Design Innovator Designing the West: Vibrant Spirits Designing the West: Livable Luxury Designing the West: Curatorial Vision Wanderings: Denver, Colorado Collector’s Notebook: Responsive Design Designing the West: Conceptual Design Designing the West: Rustic Comfort Designing the West: Personality and Panache Illuminations: Ones to Watch Rendering: Denver Architect Ron Faleide Designing the West: Natural Sanctuaries Designing the West: Modern Mixmaster Collector’s Notebook: The Art of Illumination Designing the West: Illuminated Design Designing the West: Precision Planner Designing the West: Adding Dimension Illuminations: Ones to Watch Designing the West: Artistic Genesis Designing the West: Intuitive Interiors Designing the West: Modern, Classic and Conscientious Designing the West: Rustic Meets Modern Designing the West: Cultivated by Nature Collector’s Notebook: Careful Conservation
October | November 2014


“I love to make spaces look beautiful, but I don’t like everything to be too perfect or overdone,” says Yvonne Jacobs, president of Slifer Designs in Edwards, Colorado — a design firm known for its high-profile work in mountain resorts. “To mix things up I might add a funky lamp or a sculpture; I love using things made by hand.”

The arts have always been a prominent part of Jacobs’ life. She grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, and fondly remembers spending time with her great-grandmother, Georgina, who was part Navajo. “She was an artist, painter and sculptor,” says Jacobs. “Going to her home and being in her realm with her garden and weavings and art pieces, I really caught the creative bug.”

After getting an interior design degree from Colorado State University, Jacobs headed to Manhattan and landed a job with Clarence House at the New York Design Center. “It was a wonderful opportunity, because I got to know and work with all the designers who came in for textiles,” Jacobs says.

She felt a special affinity with Elissa Cullman — co-founder of the renowned firm Cullman and Kravis — where Jacobs landed her next job as design assistant. “Elissa has such an artful eye and she was known then for her imaginary integration of folk art. She’d put rustic, handcrafted items in a $10-million-dollar house, and that appealed to me. Elissa taught me about working with antiques and how to source things.”

When Jacobs and her husband-to-be decided to leave the city and head west, they eventually landed in Colorado. During her work on a living room for the Junior Symphony Guild Designer Show House, Jacobs met Slifer Designs’ owner and founder, Beth Slifer. 

“We just hit it off,” says Jacobs, who moved to Vail to work for the company. The year was 1997 and Slifer Designs was poised for growth just as the area exploded with a building boom. “We hired a lot of good designers and architects, and we just went for it. We were doing a lot of million-dollar residential jobs and commercial projects for hotels like the Ritz.”

Beth Slifer, who still owns the company, retired from the day-to-day operations and handed over the reins to Jacobs in 2008. “Beth and I have always shared a common vision for the company, for the people who work here, and for what we want to do for the community,” says Jacobs.

Since then, Jacobs says high-country design has evolved to a more clean, modern aesthetic. “We tend to work in a more relaxed style because living in the mountains is so often about being with people we love and having family experiences. We don’t view the house as a showcase; the living room should be lived in, and you should be able to eat in the dining room. It’s about being together. We carefully consider the architecture, finishes, art and the client’s lifestyle before we ever begin furnishing the home. I like rooms that are easygoing, with a little whimsy, and I’m big on texture. I could have a whole room in the same color palette, but with varying textures.”

Jacobs favors jeans and cowboy boots for her personal style and says comfort is key. “I’d describe my fashion sensibility as Western-casual, but I do like to dress up and tend toward polished, tailored pieces — and I love handmade jewelry,” she says. “I have a deep appreciation for handcrafted things, and I enjoy working with local artisans. Fortunately, we have a lot of extremely talented artists and craftspeople living and working in these mountain towns.”

Among the boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants of the Riverwalk in Edwards, Slifer Designs’ headquarters occupies three floors. “Our top level is a design studio and library that’s filled to the hilt with fabrics, furniture and samples,” Jacobs says. “We can have a full-on design meeting with our clients without having to drive anywhere.” 

Offices are housed on the second floor and a spacious main level retail store opens onto the street with furnishings creatively arranged in ever-changing vignettes: a fully furnished living room complete with a stone fireplace, a dining room, bedrooms, walls painted in different colors such as lime green, lavender and charcoal, and a variety of accessories.

“We change the vignettes out every Wednesday, and we actually have design ‘groupies’ waiting at the door to see what we’re going to do every week,” Jacobs says with a laugh. For Slifer Designs’ most ardent fans, one thing is certain: What they see will be fresh, interesting and beautiful, but not too perfect. 

Designer Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs

Artist Thomas Swanston created the fanciful diptych that inspired the hues in this La Quinta, California, sitting area. Jacobs describes the wall color, Benjamin Moore’s Putnam Ivory, as “the color of moonlight — it has a soft glow.”

The open-concept kitchen in this snowmass home is outfitted with professional appliances and illuminated by a quartet of clear glass pendants from Amico. Jacobs specified chalkboard insets in the upper cabinets, and the curved, industrial-style faucet is by Kohler. An open fireplace warms the adjacent family room, and the oversized, round white chair is from Mitchell Gold.

Jacobs specified the natural birch picket fence stair railing to visually lighten the entry space. Cowhide- covered benches from Arteriors are convenient for removing boots and shoes, and the resin ottoman is by Phillips Collection. Lights are hand-blown glass from Bocci, and the "Three Amigos" photograph is by Mike Crabtree.

Reclaimed wood covers the bathroom walls, contrasting with a bathtub from Wetstyle’s Cube Collection. Jacobs designed the custom, stone-topped vanity, which was crafted by genesis. A sheepskin rug provides a soft landing underfoot.

With a spectacular view of the aspens from the windows, Jacobs created a cozy master bedroom sanctuary by hanging sheer linen drapes around a Mitchell gold upholstered bed. Custom pillows are heavy washed linen, and the cashmere throw is perfect when temperatures drop at night. The nightstand is Ralph Lauren, and the homeowners purchased the gold-framed print during a trip to Indonesia.

The homeowners use the inviting courtyard as an extension of their home’s living area. Custom copper wall panels are fitted with lights to illuminate the space at night, and the weatherproof outdoor furniture is from Janus et Cie. Heat-loving tropical plants and cactus fill a trio of tall metal planters, and Jacobs designed the striking red double doors.

A living area designed for casual gatherings, Jacobs specified a round table for cocktails and playing cards and surrounded it with A. Rudin barrel chairs; the chairs have wheels for added flexibility. The fireplace wall is clad in sand-hued limestone, and the watercolor on the mantle is by Sarah Hinckley. The lamp is from Porta Romana, and the chest is by Nancy Corzine.

Custom drapes of great Plains fleur "de lis fabric" in soft blues set the palette for a traditional, European chalet-style living room in this Vail home. The sofas are from Hickory Chair with accent pillows of blue and orange. The coffee table was created from an antique door that the homeowners found in Santa Fe, and Materials Marketing crafted the limestone fireplace hearth.