Seeing through decades-old, clumsy design allowed one couple to open up their downtown Aspen, top-floor condo to its real potential.
Guerra sanded a black finish off the ceiling's beams for a more natural wood.
Many designers come into projects after a client already has the property, but Dallas-based Donna Guerra, of DG&A Interiors Inc., started helping a Chicago couple long before that. “I looked at condos all over with them, and they were either too funky or too expensive,” she says. “We landed on this one because of the view, the penthouselike style and the location.”
The just-under-1,000-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is in Aspen’s east end, just blocks from the downtown core. Though compact, the couple and Guerra saw its potential—even through “cheesy” moldings, clunky elements and plumbing challenges.
“I thought it had been last done in the ’80s,” says Guerra. (It was built in 1969 and renovated in the 2013.)
After purchasing the property in 2017, the family gave Guerra a conservative budget and a timeline of a couple months. She nailed both, completing the project last summer just in time for the couple to spend fall weekends in Aspen via the direct flight from Chicago O’Hare.
Given the space constraints, the first thing Guerra did was open up the condo where possible. That meant knocking down a cumbersome closet next to the entry and replacing it with a custom wood bench for putting on shoes and ski boots alongside cabinets to store equipment and cold-weather clothes.
To expand the living room, she moved a corner fireplace that faced the room diagonally and tucked it laterally into the wall. She shifted the stacked laundry machines that were in a hallway bathroom to the end of the hall, opening the bathroom from shiplike quarters into a full vanity.
Next came implementing design tricks to make the smaller space live larger. The first? It involved bringing the height of the doorways up to 8 feet and raising the ceiling in the hallway to 9 feet. Because the condo is on the top floor of its building, exposed beams reach an apex in the middle of it, and the peaked roof adds to the space’s bigger feel.