Architecture & Design of the West, 2003

Kathleen Thomas Profiles Interior Designers

Bustling with a revived sense of self, Denver unfolds an elegant skyline against a breathtaking Continental Divide backdrop. There's a melding of nature with the achievements of man on a single canvas - a sweep of unusual visual grace.

It comes as no surprise to those who lived in Colorado all their lives - or those who moved here last week, for that matter the Centennial State and its capital city are often ranked among the most desirable places in the United States both to visit and to make one's home.

Showcase homes, as well as remarkable commercial and corporate structures often reflect or even incorporate natural elements in their exterior designs and interior furnishings. Stunning examples are found not only in Denver but along the Front Range and across the central Rocky Mountain's. And it's no coincidence many award winning projects bear the name of Sally Curtis Starr A.S.I.D. Residential and Commercial Interior Designers.

A Colorado design firm with 25 years' service to a wide variety of clients is Sally Curtis Starr, whose portfolio contains both residential and commercial design work throughout the Rocky Mountain region and from Chicago to Hawaii. Starr, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, says her work is primarily residential and her design approach is "straightforward and long-lasting in its visual appeal."

Colorado is definitely home for Starr, who earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and also attended World Campus Afloat. Her interior design internship degree was earned in Denver. While many of the homes she designs are on the Front Range, Starr also has projects in Vail, Aspen, and on the Western Slope. She maintains an unmistakable enthusiasm "I work in different styles and disciplines," she says of SCS."We're not trendy." Styles range from contemporary to European to traditional to Zen. There's also eclectic, which mingles elements of many styles, she adds. "But regardless of the style, it must be done with good design practices."

Most of her interior designs are new constructions, and the firm works on multiple projects simultaneously. "They are all at various stages of activity," she explains.

Starr's relationship with each client is unique and often begins "right from the first interview." She says, "It starts very quickly. I have to be very efficient and certainly creative. To do that, we have to connect."

Interior materials chosen by Starr and her clients are structurally decided "from the floor up" and are meant to "initiate an emotional reaction that reaches the client. After all, it's their dream." She can begin at the living room, and "one area then flows off decision leads to another."

Starr says, "You know when you have the right solution and are ready to go to the next area. The key is artistic variety. My clients are artistically geared, and we introduce the elements they appreciate and enjoy throughout the space."

Good examples are a house in Hawaii and a Rocky Mountain dwelling on which Starr is currently working.

For the island house, with its terrific view of the Pacific, she is using shades of ocean bilge, metallics, and mango. The kitchen has gloss-lacquered cabinets, stainless steel accents, and travertine flooring. Mexican walnut flooring provides wonderful contrast in different parts of the house. Furnishings have a "Pacific Northwest style, with simple linens and natural materials."

Looking out at Colorado's sawblade Continental Divide, the mountain house is richly, warmly hued, with moss-green granite against cherry wood floors and trim. Terra cotta is used as an accent color for more neutral wall tones. Black slate is an accent to the native stone fireplace. Here, the furnishings lean to leather and "heartier fabrics."

Furnishings are largely procured right in the Denver area.

"I'm very loyal to my sources," Starr says. "I've been to several showrooms in the country, and this is the one I primarily use."

The commercial projects represented by SCS are "custom designed workspaces reflective of the purpose, spirit, and direction of the firm." Starr says, "Our creative and appropriate design solutions are clearly documented for ease of specification and/or procurement."

SCS is certified by the National Council for Interior Design and also has American Society of: Interior Design/Professional Member Status. It is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ASID Merit Award for Residential Design; the MAME Silver award for Best Custom Homes: and the Home of the Year Honor Award by Colorado Homes & Lifestyles magazine. The company's website is