featured interior designer
Donna Guerra // DG+A Interiors
by Leah Shafer

“As natural as possible” is the design philosophy of Donna Guerra, owner of DG+A Interiors,
as she works in Dallas and Aspen on residential and commercial properties.  

“I love the outdoors and our design here is always reflecting that, a way for the inside to
capture a bit of the outside so that you don’t mind being inside,” she said. “Especially in
Texas with summer, you want to enjoy your home because it’s so hot and you’re probably
in there most of the time.”
That philosophy is particularly noticeable in her Aspen work, most of which are second
homes. But some of it even made it into the Ballpark at Arlington, where she worked with
Robert Tabak and Chris Savage in a partnership to create the food facilities on the upper
level, the Diamond Club, and 40 individual boxes for clients from Justin Boots to the city
of Arlington to the owner’s box.

Guerra started DG+A Interiors in 1988 after living in St. Louis and said part of the reason
she’s stayed in Dallas is that the city is always moving forward.  
“Just look at our building boom all the attention to architecture and attention to the
cultural arts and fashion,” she said. “It has really created itself in the last decade
and while our design center is not as great a New York, it’s getting close.”

Her claim to fame is that DGA was the first one to introduce Mountain Modern to
Aspen, a popular style of interior design since that time.

What makes Mountain Modern? It’s a mix of some rustic materials with modern,
simple lines. An excellent example is her work with the Glen Garry house in Aspen,
a single family new construction built for spec in 2006. This geothermal house had
to adhere to “green points,” which Guerra made part of the Mountain Modern.
“The client that started it pretty much gave us free reign, but we had to hit a certain
number of points for energy efficiency, so we used reclaimed oak floors, wool carpet,
plaster, granite, and all of those things were either natural materials or recycled,”
she said.

The living room has a soaring wall of Hope windows and a fireplace with the
mantel indoors and the chimney out.

“I knew [the windows] needed to keep that structural steel look, that architectural
look, without a lot of framing around them,” she said. “The first time we pushed
the fireplaces outside the house to gain square footage in the living room, but
it created an interesting effect. At night there’s a light between the glass and
the stone.”
That “clean” element is offset by “rough” ones in the room, like the wood beams, a
decorative, not structural, element.   

But you have to know what works with Mountain Modern, where to put the “rough”
and where to put the modern.

“The floor and recycled oak had a lot of character and it caused you to want
less on the walls and less in the textures of the fabrics,” she said. “Where you want
more, you want to use less to compliment it.

Another example is the use of an old railroad timber for the mantel near the wood
paneling, which was 100-year-old French oak 12 inch planks that were French
hand waxed to be ultra smooth.  

But one thing Mountain Modern is not?
“I have not placed the antler chandeliers with the modern,” said Guerra, laughing.

Nor has she placed any in her Dallas work, where she and her office— Katherine Bukovitz,
Tara Cooper and Terri Jackson—have ongoing projects.  

“There are some beautiful sites here and my design is more eclectic than in Aspen,”
she said, noting the difference between working with a person’s primary home in
Dallas and a second home in Aspen. “You’re dealing with houses that have had
furniture before and not every one of our clients are modern. But we try to take
even the traditional people and make it a little more streamlined, less cluttered.”

Another trick is mixing antiques with modern.
“If they have wood pieces that are the antiques, you want to make the upholstery more
modern, cleaner lines and simple fabrics like velvet, linen and mohair. Something flat
but luxurious,” she said, noting that it’s also natural.

In most Dallas homes, Guerra said she is working to bring rooms more up to date with
color and materials, working with the more open floor plans of recent homes to let
the outdoors in and keep the flow free.
“I just always try to make your interiors a place you can’t wait to come back to,
where it’s comfortable day or night with one person or ten people in the room,”
she said. “I don’t want the rooms to be stagnant in houses I work with; I want
them to be flexible enough to change.”

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