Steamboat designer favors “a simple elegance” in giving rooms a sense of harmony
When it comes to iconic design elements, Steamboat interior designer David Chase looks broadly rather than narrowly.
“I trend toward a simple elegance,” said Chase. “The entire room should work together harmoniously. I make sure things blend, support and coordinate with one another. I don’t often work with a standout piece, moreso an overall aesthetic.”
Chase, the longtime owner of David Chase Furniture & Design in Steamboat Springs, said a critical approach to design is to listen very closely to the client and the architecture.
“I ask a lot of questions,” Chase said. “I’m often told I ask more questions than the architect did when the house was built.
“The furnishings in a room should be designed around how the people plan to live in that space. Entertaining is different than a quiet place for a family to enjoy each others’ company. … I typically present two or three options I believe fit what they described to me, all of which would be perfect, then we go from there. I don’t ever tell the client what to do. I offer suggestions — maybe we can make an improvement or this piece does not enhance this other piece – but I see what happens when you tell people what to do and pieces don’t fit together. That’s not how you keep clients happy.”
Chase said he often hears from clients who learn the hard way that the furniture they fell in love with in the showroom doesn’t fit well once it’s in their home.
“I tend to work with a more modest-size furniture plan that doesn’t overwhelm the space with a lot of large, bulky furnishings,” Chase said. “People will come in with grand ideas, then start measuring things out and we see that they don’t fit. A classic example is someone will say, “I need a sectional,” but more people can fit in a sofa and loveseat than a sectional, and they’re less expensive than a sectional. If you like to take naps and lie in a particular direction, then, sure, we’ll order a sectional. You just need a realistic perspective of what will fit in the space.”
Has Chase seen a shift in what’s iconic and timeless over the years?
“We don’t see a lot of cabin-style architecture and furniture. That trend does not seem to be in demand any more. We’re seeing more of what I would call a clean transitional look – some call that mountain contemporary. Whether it’s Fort Collins, Boulder or Steamboat, it’s more clean and transitional.”
Chase explains that transitional is a design term that melds traditional and contemporary. “Transitional is the bridge between the two: comfortable, modest, proportional, doesn’t lean one way or another. There’s no big rolled, overstuffed arms and not something ultra contemporary.”
Trends come and go, but Chase is seeing a resurgence in Mid-century Modern. “I can’t say it’s caught on everywhere in mountain communities – it’s not exactly the look everyone wants – but that’s a trend that is occurring on a national level. We see it being sprinkled in some elements in a room – an accent chair, something like that. … I try not to do anything overboard that overshadows anything else, but if you’re going to use a pop of color, an accent chair is a good way to do that.”
The mention of color gets Chase excited. After a long period of “greige” — gray and beige — Chase is thrilled to see a willingness to “bring some life into a space, some energy.”
“Gray will never go away — it’s the new brown,” Chase said. “That trend will be around well after I retire. It’s just what you do around it and with it so that there’s some differentiating elements that all work together. The color of the year is Classic Blue. I love working with blue. … Finally people are starting to use it more here in Steamboat. Three quarters of the planet is either the sky or water so we have a lot of blue in our life. But for some reason we block it out when it comes to design.”
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