Meet Denver Design Contest Winner Shelley Sims

During The Design Contest from C.A.I. Designs Denver, four amazing designers created a vignette in the Denver showroom. Each designer teamed up with a preselected student of Interior Design, had one hour to select pieces from existing inventory, and one hour to create their most inspired design using their selections. At the end of the time limit, we photographed each design and gave other designers a chance to vote on their favorite. The winning designer was Shelley Sims of Thrive Design. We took a few minutes to find out more about Shelley and her student Design Assistant for the contest, Miriam Griffin.

Q. Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?

A. I have a client in Keystone that has a family house that I’ve been able to work for over the years. I’ve been able to do something in each of the rooms including completely remodeling the kitchen and the master bath along with the other five bathrooms. To me, it’s the most fun and exciting project. We were able to preserve some of the parent’s design aspects while bringing the house current. The end result was a beautiful place for people who come to Colorado to enjoy the outdoors. Plus the client has been so fun to work with because they have ideas of their own that we incorporate into the home. I also get the opportunity to offer all of my great ideas so the end result is even better than any of us could imagine. I’m very grateful for them. See more of Shelley’s work here.

Q. Which interior design course was the most difficult for you and why?

A. Oddly enough I didn’t actually go to design school. I went to fashion merchandising and marketing school. That’s where I realized my love for textiles, color and design. I was trying to become a buyer or a department manager for one of the big stores like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s, but right after I finished school I realized I was way more creative than I thought I was. So when I left New York City to come back to Colorado, I started doing visual merchandising at the Denver Merchandise Mart. Not only was I doing window displays, I very quickly worked my way into working on rooms and remodeling pool show rooms. A few years later I got an opportunity to do a remodel on a home. It was then that I realized that I love Interior Design and that I had design skills that I didn’t even know existed.

Q. Who is your biggest design influence?

A. Kelly Wearstler

Q. Where did you draw your inspiration from for your vignette?

A. Based on a couple of comments that the student Miriam had mentioned, I just made up in my mind that she was going to be the client. So I asked her to go around and pick things that she loved. We made up a scenario that she had just traveled around the world and that she had returned with treasures from her trip. She was then hosting a party where she was inviting all her friends to come over and learn about her travels. It was a really great example for her to be able to be the client as well as the designer at the same time. It made it really fun.

Q. If you could give future designers one piece of advice, what would it be? 

A. Based on that experience I would suggest they go spend a day with a couple of different designers. By doing this, they can be inspired by how each of us work so very differently. There’s not one “right” way. Each one of us bring our variety of experiences, teachings, trainings, learnings and personalities into the projects. So every room is a one-of-a-kind custom art piece.

Q. Which school do you attend?

A. Pike Peak Community College

Q. What is your favorite design class?

A. It is a tie between Accessorizing and Space Planning.

Q. Who is your biggest design influence?

A. If I am being honest I don’t have a design influence. I don’t know much about the design world seeing as I jumped into interior design head first with no clue what to expect. I’m learning as I go and meeting great people. The people that I have met along the way, who have helped me and taught me, have been my biggest influencers, I cannot wait to either work with them in the future or be like them.

Q. What are your career plans after graduation?

A. I haven’t figured that out yet but I’m excited to. I’m hoping to go into commercial design and that’s all I know right now.

Q. What was the number one thing you learned while taking part in The Design Contest? And Why?

A. Being able to work with all four designers made me realize that they all think and work differently. Every vignette was beautiful but the path we took to get to the finished product was different for each designer. It was crazy to see how each performed and it helped me see which methods were more proficient.

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