Interior Designer Spotlight with Debbie Lori Travin
Owner of DLT Interiors, New York, NY
Debbie has been immersed in design and fashion all her life. Growing up in a family in haute couture, Debbie always had an innate sense of style and a keen eye for color. Frequently she would accompany her family on business trips to Italy where she bought high end men’s couture. Later while remodeling her home in New York, Debbie noticed that when her architect did house showings, people always wanted to know who the designer was. When her three kids got older, Debbie decided to study interior design at the New York School of Interior Design. Now she runs a successful interior design firm in the city.
Join me as Debbie shares her excitement in being an interior designer in New York.
What is it Like to be an Interior Designer in New York City?
“I think it’s phenomenal! I’m in the best city in the world for interior design. I can’t think of a better place. It’s packed with people who need interior designers. There is new construction, gut jobs, as well as pre-war buildings which usually require complete renovation and redesign. I love the architectural details of pre-war buildings. Then there are duplexes,and brand new buildings with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows. It runs the gamut which makes it always challenging and exciting. And I love the people!”
What Did You Learn at Interior Design School?
“When I went to school I was more experienced than my peers. I ended up helping a lot of my classmates. I learned a lot about the history of interior design and the different stylistic periods. I felt I could already do the real hands-on design work. This gave me confidence that I could go out and do this on my own. I learned a lot about spatial planning which is key. Plus, I learned how to mix different materials to create a balanced aesthetic. Studying at NYSID really expanded my knowledge.”
Do You Have a Favorite Design Style?
“I hate to pinpoint my style because I work with them all. I don’t want to be narrowly categorized as a designer who just does this or that type of design. Everyone has their own design style and I really want to cater to my client’s look. For my own personal design style, I’m more transitional. I don’t care for sleek, ultra modern decor which feels cold and uninviting to me. I want my interiors to feel warm and welcoming, where you feel you never want to leave. On the other hand, I don’t like it to be heavily traditional either. I prefer clean lines and a fresh aesthetic.”
Which is Your Favorite Interior Design Magazine?
“Architectural Digest. AD features a lot of celebrity homes. I’m curious to see how they live and am always very surprised that it’s not always so fabulous. It seems like a lot of celebrity homes are really not up-to-date. I mean, some I love, but then others are just not that amazing.”
How Would You Design a Celebrity’s Home?
“I would design a celebrity home just as I would my clients home which is to bring out their lifestyle and personality. If they had a special interest such as a big record collection, I would showcase it. That’s what a home is supposed to be. It’s about the person who lives there. You can really tell a lot about someone and who they are by the interior design of their home.”
You Said You Have the Best Contractors in the City – What Sets them Apart?
“I definitely believe that I do! When my clients hire their own contractors, there are always some problems and they take forever! When I tell my contractor I need it done in X amount of time, they make sure it gets done. They don’t take on other projects at the same time which means they are there full-time. They get the project finished on time and with really high quality. I don’t see that in other contractors.”
Why Is it Important to Create Timeless Spaces?
“I think it’s very important to create timeless spaces. Designing an interior is a costly endeavor which is why I try to make sure it is going to last 10 to 15 years. That’s when everything seems to change. I create a neutral palette without anything too trendy in the main furniture pieces and then I accessorize with accent pieces that have color or some trendy pieces that can be changed easily.”
Where Do You Do Your Sourcing?
“I use the trade resources in New York City. The New York Design Center and the Decoration & Design Building which have every fabric, wallpaper, lighting, and furnishings resources imaginable to the trade. I live on the upper east side so I go there just about everyday. Everything I do is custom and unique to my clients. I am also always looking online for new sources. It could honestly take hours to find the perfect lamp.”
Are Designers Changing the Way They Charge for Their Work?
“Interior designers in the past used to have an hourly billing rate. I never did that, and never thought it was fair. If I put myself in my client’s shoes, I wouldn’t want to be paying continually for hours spent. What I do, and I’m finding is true for most designers now, is to charge a flat fee. I’ve been doing this since day one and it has worked like a charm. I can tell a client this is the price from start to finish. It’s not going to change and it will be a complete project at the end. Also, they can call me and I am available to them 24/7. I want them to have a very enjoyable, positive experience.”
What Are the Dangers if You Don’t Have a Designer?
“There are several dangers. Most people can’t make good decisions, or they can’t edit it down, or they freeze half way into the design and the project never gets finished. They could make spacial and scaling errors and end up buying something that is too big or is of the wrong size so the room doesn’t flow well. There are a crazy number of things you need to get right; the selection process is quite overwhelming. You have to be able to edit things down and be able to put it together so it all flows.“
What Do You Look for When Your Clients Need an Oversized Rug?
“I look for durability. I work with a lot of young families and they are always asking to make sure it is something they can have with the kids and with their dogs. So that’s why I can’t go too crazy with something too lavish. I need to make the home family-friendly and have the design look great. A good option is a tightly woven 100% wool rug. Starting with a rug is a great place to begin. When you start with a fabulous rug you have a great foundation on which to build the entire room.”
For more on Debbie Lori Travin visit: http://www.dltinteriordesigns.com