The Hard Finish

AUGUST Interiors owner doesn’t do throw pillows

Dina Gunn is here for you.
Portrait by Clark Hodgin

Architectural interior designer Dina Gunn takes calls at 8pm — “I’m happy to,” says Gunn, founder/owner of AUGUST Interiors in Hendersonville. Well, why not? At night, for fun, “I’m often on the Internet looking up tiles and light fixtures,” she confesses.  

Gunn puts the accent on the second syllable; it’s “august” as in impressive, revered, not a reference to the late-summer month. “August” the adjective has a formal connotation, but Gunn — the in-house interior designer for Shamburger Architectural Group and a collaborator on numerous independent projects — says she can be “a bit silly.” 

And also honest, down-to-earth, and “completely available … my clients often become close friends,” she says. “We’re together for 14-18 months, so a positive relationship is critical. When they welcomes me into their life and space, I’m honored.”

How did you launch AUGUST Interiors?

My twin boys were nearly done with elementary school, and I was itching to engage my brain and be around people again. I knew I loved architectural design after my husband and I acted as contractors when building our own home in Flat Rock. It was really fun, even though we had zero experience — and three-month-old twin boys.

I knew Wayland [principal of Shamburger Architectural Group] socially because our kids went to preschool together, and we’d chat at social events. I so wanted to be in an architectural environment, and told Wayland that if he ever needed anyone, I was game. He took me up on it and it was a weird time, right after the 2008 recession. I started working maybe eight hours a week, and it was just us. 

Was it a trial by fire of sorts? 

I was so jazzed about everything I was learning, it wasn’t stressful. I had great respect for architects and architecture, and Wayland’s and my tastes were pretty symbiotic.

Things picked up and I got the idea to offer concierge packaging of his architectural and my design services, which would set us apart. Wayland was receptive, I think, because I didn’t want to change his business, but complement it.

Who’s your typical client?

Usually they’re 55-plus, from out of state, and building second homes or retirement residences.  

Could you nutshell your approach to design?

I explain from the get-go that I’m not a paint-chip/throw-pillow designer. I don’t push furniture sales. I’m architecturally focused; my eye’s constantly on the bigger picture. I’m all about shapes, hard finishes, the parts and pieces like lighting, hardware, and plumbing fixtures. My other priority is incorporating places for the eye to rest [on] in any space. Good design requires a certain yin-yang; you may choose 50 amazing objects, but they might not be amazing together.  

How do your and Wayland Shamburger’s aesthetics mesh?

We both appreciate the mountain vernacular design that’s unique to here. It’s morphed from a rustic lodge feel to rusticity with a modern twist. A lot of my work now is cleaner, but not austere.  

Some fun things we’re doing now are dark, defined window frames, floating treads and cable rails in place of traditional staircases, and square-edged as opposed to V-groove ceilings.  

How do you finesse it when a homeowner couple disagrees? 

That happens! Everyone should pick their battles. If the husband wants a soaking tub [that] his wife considers an eyesore, we work through it. And if I don’t think a client’s making a good choice, I show them options I think are better, but have the same flavor. 

Has business changed since the pandemic started?

It increased tremendously — possibly because people are also relocating from larger cities.

Describe a team’s impact on a project … 

A project is only as good as the team behind it. I’ve found fantastic vendors and subcontractors over the years, countertop folks, stone suppliers, and cabinetry pros, so lots of headaches are eliminated for the client. I hold [vendors] to a bar that’s as high as the one I set for myself. When my out-of-state clients come to check on their projects, we keep tight itineraries. My subs allow that to happen.  

AUGUST Interiors, 421 Fifth Ave. West, Hendersonville. For more information, call 828-692-2737, 828-243-4910 (cell), e-mail dina@sdsaia.com or visit augustinteriorsnc.com. Also see @augustinteriors on Instagram. For more information about Shamburger Architectural Group, see shamburgerarchitecture.com