By Christopher A. Pape
In a city of indulgence and excess – where the wealthiest can have anything at any moment and demand it at a moment’s notice, it is a breath of fresh air to meet someone that is both talented and humble. Debbie Lori Travin, of DLT Interiors, is a woman whose skill and devotion shine through; and whose love of interior design and home décor are the passion of her life. Best of all, she’s humble about her talent!
NY Resident sat down with her to find out what makes her tick, find out what her sense of style is and what she’s working on currently. Sitting in her immaculate Upper East Side apartment, with a stunning terrace and excellent light, it became clear that she brings her love of home décor to her home life as well. Read, enjoy and be inspired!
New York Resident (NYR): Tell us how did you get inspired to get into home décor and design?
Debbie Travin (DT): I started off in fashion. I was doing buying for high-end couture men’s clothing and I would travel to Italy quite often. It was a family business but by the time my dad was ready to retire, I was having my children and didn’t want to take it over. Actually, it was a good thing. Michael, my husband and I, moved to Westchester. And we found this house that was a total gut job. We were looking for a great piece of land; and if we were going to move out of the city, it had to have a magnificent backyard.
NYR: Tell us about the house itself?
DT: It had its own unique charm. It was a Georgian Colonial. The front was brick and it had a balcony. We gutted the whole interior, it looked like a movie set – the front was standing but there was basically nothing behind it. We got an architect - we basically started from scratch – new windows, new floors, new electric and new plumbing. It was a huge job. This is about eleven years ago. And my family and friends kept saying that you’re going to need an interior designer to do this – it’s a huge house and a major project. But, I just felt like I could do it – it was a fun project and I ended up completing my house with no problem and without any help. And I realized that this is something that I love doing. Eventually, my architect would take his perspective clients to see my house, as an example and showpiece. They would always ask to get the name of the decorator and that’s how my business was born!
NYR: At first, where was most of your business?
DT: I would do projects in Scarsdale and Westchester - mostly renovations. I’d help with bathrooms, kitchens – whatever they needed help with. I started out there, but now I’ve moved into the city and I’m expanding my business here.
NYR: What are you working on now?
DT: I do a lot of one or two bedrooms. I have a big project for a 4,000 square foot apartment. It’s a redesign project. And I have other projects as well.
NYR: How are you getting business?
DT: Mostly from referrals, however, my new website is launching shortly. I’m very excited!
NYR: What do you like most about decorating and what do you like least?
DT: I love the creativity and I never get tired of it. But the down of it is that sometimes, it’s a slow process. I love to create – I don’t love to wait!
NYR: How is it working with clients, what is the process like?
DT: I take the client’s vision and execute it. Most people know what they like, but they just don’t know how to express it and that’s my job. They also know what they don’t like. You have to edit down for them, do all of the legwork – because it can be overwhelming for them.
NYR: What’s the difference between decorating an apartment versus a suburban or single-family home?
DT: I have to say, doing an apartment is a snap next to doing a home. It’s just that the space issue is so much less.
NYR: What would you say is your favorite style?
DT: You want to decorate for the environment. I always used clean lines and a clean feeling. I like a neutral palate with accents of color. I also like to be eclectic with some antiques. But I think it’s important to stay true to the architecture. The building itself should dictate and guide the interior. Another good barometer is the location. If the house is next to the seaside, a house should reflect that.
NYR: Do you prefer living in Westchester or in the city?
DT: The city, no comparison!
NYR: Could you sum up what a DLT Interiors house would be like?
DT: I don’t want a house to be a design showcase – it looks so decorated. I want it to be your home. A home should show your personality; pictures of your travels, your children – a home should be you. I want that to be your haven, you come and you are home – it’s a place to relax and to reenergize.