Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

DREAM TEAM: Deborah Leamann Interiors can make your interior design dreams come true. “Our specialty is residential, and our main goal is to make the house look like the client, to reflect their life-style, taste, and personality.” Shown left to right are designers Margaret Sproul, Deborah Leamann (seated), and AJ Margulis.

Design Expertise and Help for Homeowners Are Specialty of Deborah Leamann Interiors

Your house should be your haven. Once you step inside, ideally, you should be relieved of the rush and tension of our high tech society, and find order, harmony, and ease.

Not every home may achieve this sought-after tranquility, but it’s surely worth a try. Deborah Leamann Interiors offers experience and expertise to help put the pieces together.

“In a stressful world, creating a nice space is important,” says owner Deborah Leamann, Allied A.S.I.D. (American Society of Interior Designers), “and in any design, it is vital to emphasize the client’s ideas. We’re not here to dictate. We want to bring out the taste and style of the homeowner. It’s not about us; it’s about them.

“Having a strong connection to my client is what inspires my work,” she adds. “Whether we are working on a complete renovation or simply a new color scheme, helping people transform their lives through quality design is my primary objective.”

Final Completion

A graduate of the New York School of Interior Design, Ms. Leamann worked with several interior design firms before opening her own business in 1989. “I wanted to go out on my own,” she reports. “It was always a goal, and it also fit in very nicely with being a parent since I had more control over my hours.”

Ms. Leamannn and her associates, interior designers AJ Margulis Allied A.S.I.D. and Margaret Sproul, enjoy working on a variety of projects and sharing their ideas. “We do any size job from a simple consultation advising on color or arranging, to redoing the whole house, including kitchen and bath,” says Ms. Leamann. “We can take a job from paper, working off blueprints, to final completion.

“We pay complete attention to detail, whether it’s a knob on a cabinet, artwork, or antiques,” she continues, “And we have tremendous design capabilities. If something doesn’t exist, we can custom-design it.”

Classic design is Leamann Interiors’ expertise, and as she points out, “there is a timelessness to our design. We specialize in a client’s unique life-style, not today’s trends. I feel proud to go back and look at projects from 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t change anything.”

Indeed, the clients’ life-style and taste are crucial to any design, she adds, and determining their style — if they are uncertain — is an important starting point. She encourages clients to come to her attractive design studio at 250 South Main Street in Pennington for a first visit. Fabric samples and a portfolio of the designers’ work are available.

“It’s important to meet the client and find a commonality and comfort level,” she explains. “We’ll share ideas and conversation. I ask them to bring magazine pictures of things they like — or don’t like. It’s a fact-finding mission, what they have in mind for the project, and we get an idea of their life-style.”

Major Issue

Of course, budget is a major issue, and as Ms. Leamann points out, “We try to work within a client’s budget. For example, natural tile can be costly; sometimes, we select a man-made tile, but insert a natural tile for detail. Whatever the size of the project, we believe in quality.

“Regarding payment, we tailor every agreement to the job. It might be a one-time consultation, such as rearranging the furniture or suggesting a new coat of paint; other times it can be a long-term project with a retainer arrangement.

“Also,” she adds, “we’re very business-like. If someone sends an email, we get right back to them. We make sure calls are returned in 24 hours. The line of communication is really critical. I had a client tell me that they had reached out to four design firms, and I was the one who called back. I got the job.”

Once a project is underway, “We try to understand how the space is being used,” explains Ms. Leamann. “Sometimes the simplest thing can make all the difference in the world. For instance, in the kitchen, we can change the location of an island, creating a different type of dining area. We could include the owner’s special antiques to personalize the room. Something like a hinge or knob or light fixture can make a great difference.”

“Today’s life-style is less formal than in the past,” adds Margaret Sproul. “The dining room and living room are often either scaled down or eliminated today. Family rooms are popular, and people can use areas off the kitchen in place of a dining room.”

And points out AJ Margulis: “The kitchen is simply one of the most important rooms in today’s living. It’s the heart of the home.”

More Versatility

There is more versatility to a room today, continues Ms. Leamann. A room can be used for different purposes. “People will often say, ‘I never use that room. It’s about reassigning space: using living rooms as game rooms with billiard tables, etc. Let’s take the dining room and turn it into a library or home office. Home offices and study areas for children are top requests now.

“And, proportions of the room are important. Clients may have furniture or other items that have been passed down. They may want to keep these, but we can move them into another room. Or they could temporarily put them in storage. If there is just too much clutter, it may be time for things to go to the consignment shop.”

More people are seeking the services of interior designers than in the past, believes Ms. Leamann. “They may do so because they are afraid of making costly mistakes and want the expertise of a professional. Also, I think there is so much more exposure. Just think of all the TV programs dedicated to interiors and home improvement. People are more aware.”

Ms. Leamann’s clients are from all over the Princeton area, as well as Manhattan, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Cape Cod, Key Largo, and even as far away as Utah.

Great Colleagues

Often these are second homes, she adds, and notes that she is currently working on such diverse projects as design and renovation of an 1810 farm in Pennsylvania and design of a New York City Central Park West apartment.

Ms. Leamann enjoys conferring with associates Ms. Sproul and Ms. Margulis on many of the projects. “What’s fun is working with Margaret and AJ. It’s special to be able to work with such great colleagues. We collaborate as a team, and it’s always good to have other opinions and compare ideas. Also, with our experience and collective knowledge, we can help provide a learning experience for the client.”

The award-winning design team works both on existing houses and new construction and enjoys both challenges. Restoration is a special pleasure for Ms. Leamann. “Bringing a wonderful new look to the house is a great opportunity and enormously satisfying.”

She is also very grateful for her successful career, which has included participating in seven Junior League of Greater Princeton Showhouses, which have been featured in national and regional publications. Ms. Leamann looks forward to continuing to help clients’ design dreams come true.

“I love the creativity of this work, the opportunity to breathe life into a space,” she says, with a smile. “I feel I am helping to make people’s lives nicer. They aren’t always sure just what they want or what direction to go in, whether they are young married people just starting out, single professional women, or empty nesters, whose kids have gone off to college. Whatever the situation, when they come home, they want to be comfortable and happy. I am so pleased I can help them achieve that.”

Deborah Leamann Interiors can be reached at (609) 737-3330. Website:

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