Sally Gilchrist: A Designing Woman in Westcliffe

Article by Rayna Bailey

Arts – February 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine

FOR SALLY GILCHRIST, looking into a room and seeing how it can be improved is as natural as opening a window and taking a cleansing breath of fresh mountain air.

The environment in a person’s home is the only place he or she can control, Gilchrist says. “The way we live our daily lives at home is a matter of utmost importance. Our surroundings should be serene and uncluttered, peaceful and minimally decorated.”

With her recently opened studio in Westcliffe, Sally Gilchrist Designs, Gilchrist is now available to help people create the perfect living space or enhance the home they have.

“My mission is to help people enhance the quality of their interior spaces,” Gilchrist says. “I believe with a restrained sensibility we can more fully enjoy our productivity, whether it is reading a book, listening to an opera, or working on the computer.”

Her talents as an artist, photographer and designer are innate, she says, passed on to her by her mother and older sister. “My mother is a designer who was way ahead of her time,” says Gilchrist. “My older sister is Barbara Barry. She is a major international designer and is currently designing the interior of the Savoy Hotel in London.”

In addition to family influences, Gilchrist holds a degree in art and language from the University of Wyoming. She also attended the Houston Museum of Fine Arts’ Glassell School in Painting, and studied art history at Kings College in Aberdeen, Scotland.

But her sister provided “the impetus” for her to consider opening a design studio. “I travel and work with Barbara off and on during the year to stay abreast of new ideas,” she says.

Sally Gilchrist in her shop
Sally Gilchrist in her shop

And although Gilchrist only discussed the idea briefly with her husband, Bob, he offered a nudge to help her get the business started. “At a dinner party, Bob told people I was going to open a design business.”

When Gilchrist happened upon the perfect building for rent in downtown Westcliffe, her decision was sealed. Following the addition of soft green paint to the building’s white walls, Gilchrist moved in furniture, artwork, and a collection of sample books and other products, then opened her studio to clients the first weekend in December.

Sally Gilchrist’s personal design style is influenced by Italy. “It’s a Renaissance aesthetic, rich but simple,” she explains, adding that she would like a painting of a gondola hanging on the wall in her studio. “Maybe I’ll paint one,” she says.

Recognizing, however, that most of her clients live here in the Colorado mountains rather than Venice, Gilchrist says her style is not limited to Italian influences. “My aesthetic is inspired by nature’s palette with mixes of soft, warm colors like the ones we see outside of our windows in Colorado summers.”

Clients will find two services at Sally Gilchrist Designs: interior design and product design.

Sally Gilchrist with some wares.
Sally Gilchrist with some wares.

For interior design help, Gilchrist says, “I would be happy to come to your home and discuss ideas and budgets.” She offers several interior design options, including a personal analysis package, complete interior design, and single room designs.

But product design is Gilchrist’s “expertise and passion.” She offers complete stationery packages that include personalized embossers, stamps, inks and fountain pens, and also creates unique business cards and invitations.

Clients will also find a selection of fine art, much of it Gilchrist’s own works, plus desk accessories, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, and books full of samples and ideas.

Sally Gilchrist Designs is open by appointment only. Contact Gilchrist for additional information or an appointment at 719-783-4464 or e-mail her at

Rayna Bailey, a former reporter and school board member, is now freelancing in Westcliffe.