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No-Holds Bold

Fearless luxury furniture designer Verona Martinez is the life of the Dallas design party.

THE ONYX DIVA Verona Martinez inside her new retail showroom in the Dallas Design District, where she displays luxurious carved onyx home accessories, as well as custom upholstered furnishings such as the Carvata chair shown here ($5,100).  

“It’s OK if you want to buy a boring beige sofa—just buy a chair from me and make the room interesting,” Verona Martinez says in an enviable Spanish accent. It’s a statement you would expect from the Puerto Rican-Italian furniture designer, whose personal style hovers between Sofía Vergara and Salma Hayek (she owns some 1,500 pairs of glasses and an equal number of Christian Louboutin, Ferragamo and Christian Dior heels). The San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, native is playful, hard-working, sophisticated and—much like her custom furniture—flashy, in the best of ways. Martinez founded a clothing company at 19, and by 20, she had 15 employees. Once the company had expanded globally—and garnered clients including Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony—she retired and traveled the world. After cruising through India, Fiji, London and other places, she moved to Texas and opened Verona Privé Maison in 2010 in the Dallas World Trade Center, selling handbeaded pillows. She quickly expanded to handmade furnishings and accessories, and opened a second location in the center in 2014. Now, she has unveiled her first public showroom in the Dallas Design District. “I want to be the key that interior designers use to create beauty—a bridge for their talent,” she says. That key lies not only in her ornate luxury furnishings but also in her coveted line of gemstone pieces: She serendipitously purchased a home in Colima, Mexico, adjacent to an active volcano and right in the middle of an onyx quarry, which she now owns and which produces beautifully carved bowls, tables and trays. In her new 10,000-square-foot showroom, vignettes glitter with baroque mirrors, velvety chaises and bold-printed armchairs. “I wouldn’t call my style extravagant, but it’s on the edge of that,” she says with a laugh. 1209 Slocum St., Dallas, 214.404.2214

Splitting a handrubbed rib-eye at The Capital Grille—the best; sinking into a 44-inch-deep, down-feather Venetian velvet sofa—what a feeling; viewing historical architecture (Egypt, Mexico, Peru, Rome) and drawing inspiration while daydreaming about how they used to live

Small flower-print ’90s wallpaper—oh gosh, I hate it; negative people, as I’m always looking for a positive outcome; low-slung furnishings—I like pieces that don’t require an incredible effort or holding on to something in order to stand up