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Vail’s Design Vanguard

A Q&A with Colorado interior designer Beth Slifer



Photo by Kimberly Gavin

If not for Beth Slifer, Vail Valley wouldn’t look nearly as good as it does.

The Florida native landed in Colorado in the early 1980s, fresh from Chicago, and it didn’t take long for folks to notice her sophisticated style. She’s been leading the way ever since. Slifer Designs, which she founded in 1984, has grown and prospered, with residential and commercial projects from Hawaii to Martha’s Vineyard. Beth and her husband, Rod—another local legend, who came to Vail in 1962, becoming its first-ever realtor and mayor for 11 years—are renowned for their community involvement. They were inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 2013.


Portrait courtesy of Slifer Designs

What was Vail like when you arrived in 1983?

Vail was more like ski camp. People had mostly small condominiums stacked with lots of beds, often bunk beds, and design and furnishings were the lowest possible priority. People didn’t think of it as a home; they thought of it as sleeping quarters.


Photo by Kimberly Gavin

How did your interior design business start, and how do you explain its longevity?

I had moved all my furniture out here from Chicago, and a few people started asking me to help them with their properties. At the time, there was no design aesthetic. The dominant design was orange shag carpet and shoe-polish brown, rough-sawn wood trim. Not very inspiring.

As a Florida native I was used to second homes being retreats and places for family gatherings. I think I was one of the first people in the area to understand that it was important for the second home to be the owner’s favorite home. We really are a varied design firm with more varied styles, but the one consistent trait is resort living.


Photo by Kimberly Gavin

What design elements do you like right now?

I’m particularly fond of indoor-outdoor fabrics indoors. They have become much more sophisticated and luxurious. I have also embraced the return of Lucite tables. They’re sleek; they’re smart; and they don’t seem to occupy a dominant part of the room.

Any predictions?

I predict that florals will be back in the forefront in the next five years. And color is coming back in a very strong way.

What’s next for you?

I’m very excited about working on some hospitality projects. That is energizing me; it’s very invigorating to have a shift in your design work after 30 years.

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