When I moved to Denver from the south side of Indianapolis almost seven years ago, the city was, of course, very different from the sleepy cow town that I’ve heard so many natives reminisce about. But compared to what our cityscape looks like now, there may as well have been tumbleweeds rolling across the streets back then. In less than a decade, empty city blocks and neglected neighborhoods have been transformed by the addition of posh hotels reviewed by the New York Times, sprawling food-and-retail halls, hip boutiques, and award-winning restaurants.

Mikhail Dantes, a longtime local interior designer and co-owner of the new MOD Design furniture showroom, summed up the shift nicely during our recent phone conversation: “With the influx of people moving to Denver, you can see by the restaurant scene, by the museums popping up, by the overall culture, that the taste level is elevated.”

That refined palate is evident in the pages of this Top Denver Design issue, starting with this year’s standouts: eight smart, stylish, statement-making projects, as well as two full homes—one a French-manor-inspired residence filled with art, antiques, and plenty of joie de vivre, and the other a designer’s own study in glamorous maximalism.

Another byproduct of rapid growth? New ideas and innovation. In this issue, you’ll meet a Colorado maker who is putting a (literal) artistic twist on furniture staples, an online company that’s rethinking the way we live with art, and six people who are using design ideas to solve problems affecting Denver and beyond.

Kudos to all of the design experts and forward-thinkers who continue to elevate our city’s aesthetic! I wonder: What new heights will we reach in the next seven years?