The Atlantan
The Atlantan
September-October 2011
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Chic Peak!

An art curator-turned-interior designer creates a stunning Breckenridge ski home for an Atlanta couple.

By Wendy Bowman-Littler

For most of her professional life, Donna Grace McAlear managed building projects and exhibitions for art museums from Canada to Louisiana. In 2003, friends familiar with her curatorial design work bought a home in Baton Rouge and asked her to repaint and completely refurnish it. “It reminded me of the work I did in museums,” says McAlear, who acquired a business license to be compensated, juggled both museum work and interior design for the next six years, before founding New Mood Design in Atlanta in 2009.
She did more design work on her Baton Rouge clients’ new home in Denver. Then the same family hired her again in late 2009 when they decided to build a contemporary ski getaway in the mountain town of Breckenridge, Colo. For a year, McAlear chose the home’s harmonious design.
Working with Breckenridge architect Michael F. Gallagher, McAlear completed the three-story, 6,000-square-foot home—nicknamed “Peak 8 Penthouse,” for its position near the base area of one of the resort area’s four mountains—in December 2010. 7 to 14—wanted a minimal design that was functional and easy to maintain (because the home would mainly be used just for weekend ski trips), yet elegant (for large dinners, gatherings and entertaining).
Maximizing the surrounding natural landscape also was paramount. “A designer’s job is to hear what the client has to say and understand their dream,” says McAlear, who took inspiration from the home’s stone veneer, blue sky and mountain ranges to create a warm, earthy color palette of brown, gray, ochre, bronze and black.
In keeping with the minimalism theme, modular hidden storage spots range from large walk-in bedroom hide accent table with a removable lid and space inside for a blanket. In lieu of abundant accessories, McAlear added “life and playfulness” through edgy, sculptural lighting artwork,” she says. For the museum curator-turned-interior designer, it’s all about creating the visitor’s interaction.
“Whether you’re designing an exhibition or a home, you have a vision of the whole experience,” says McAlear.