PlumbTalk interviews Debra J. Stein, nationally renowned interior decorator, CEO, and Principal of Debra J Interiors. We discuss her blog, her book, and how we can bring romance into a personal oasis – the home! We think her spirit and talent bring something special to PlumbTalk Women .

Home is where we center ourselves and prepare to take on the world. It is where we go to rest our weary heads and spend time with the ones we love. We live, love, and work at home, gladly! It is a sanctuary.

PlumbTalk Women often brings up the theme of “home as sanctuary” because we know that it is a source of power. Our homes are extensions of ourselves and spaces that we share with family and friends. Home is where we, as women, like to nest. We care for and create sanctuaries by designing them to fulfill our wants and needs.

Debra J. Stein on Designing for Love and Life

Nationally renowned interior designer, CEO, and Principal at Debra J Interiors, Debra J. Stein, spoke with PlumbTalk Women recently about the concept of “home as sanctuary.”

Her high-end residential designs have graced the cover of the New York Times Home Magazine, and she has hosted a weekly segment for the First National PBS Design Series, “Décor with Dina Merrill”. Originally from New York where she trained at the New York School of Interior Design, Debra has found her permanent home in South Florida. At one time, she was Director of Interior Design for Bloomingdale’s in Boca Raton. Since founding Debra J Interiors, she has shifted her focus to luxury residential interior design.

This self-made entrepreneur and artist took us on a tour of the senses as we discussed her blog, her book, why women are drawn to interior design, and how to add romance to our homes.

Designing for the Person, Not the Home

Debra has a wealth of talent and passion that effervesces from her as she talks about design. Quality interior design, she says, has nothing to do with recreating a “rubber stamp” to be used on different projects.

Instead, she finds that a large portion of her time with clients is spent discovering who they really are and what makes them feel special. She considers her clients’ lifestyles to ensure their designs are practical. Then, she creates a plan by leveraging their loves, passions, and comforts. This is how Debra J. turns homes into personalized sanctuaries.

“Who are you? What makes you feel special? What is happening in your life that is unique to you? These are the questions that inform my design process, not which lamp we should get.”

© Debra J Interiors

© Debra J Interiors

After years of designing for unique individuals and families, Debra has learned to gather the details of her clients’ lifestyles. It is a technique that comes from experience, not from schooling. Interior design is about creating a home that delights the senses and comforts the soul.

Romance and Design Differ for Women & Men

Women build nests. We do this by carefully choosing items to go into our homes. We tend to be especially drawn to layout. We often play with colors and texture. Debra sees this clearly when she designs for couples. She says, “Women are nesters. They are more emotionally invested in the process.”

It seems like women understand that good design choices evoke emotions and create a sense of comfort and beauty. Some men understand this, she says, but most don’t – not at first. Many of them are just doing it for the woman’s sake. It’s when they start seeing the design come together that they begin to “get” it. They realize what their money is buying; and, more importantly, they realize they should feel good when they walk through the doors of their homes.

Beyond the couple, it is worthwhile for all individuals to transform their homes into sanctuaries.

“Adding romance to your home is not just important for couples. It’s also especially important for single ladies because it reminds you that you are special.”

~Debra J. Stein

Debra describes how adding romance to our homes is about captivating the senses. The elements of design must enchant you and your visitors through touch, sight, smell, and sound.

Creating Romance Room by Room

The Entryway

The entryway is an important part of the home because it is the beginning of the fairy tale. It introduces what you’re about to see and experience. Debra says, “I prefer something simple in the entry, like a beautiful bouquet. Just make sure your flowers are in abundance and that it smells wonderful!” The trick is not to clutter the entryway. A single-color bouquet of fragrant flowers is a great way to be enfolded into the romance of the home.

The Kitchen and Dining Room

Romance in the kitchen is olfactory. Debra suggests putting fresh herbs on the counter – lavender or rosemary can scent the kitchen beautifully – and keep a simmering cinnamon on low for a warm feel throughout the home.

“Romance is about making yourself and the people in your life feel special.”

© Debra J Interiors

© Debra J Interiors

The dining room, Debra says, is a great room to create romance. Start with flowers and candles; but don’t confine yourself to a vase. Rose petals can be sprinkled around the candles so that the texture and beauty can be fanned out across the table, not just in an arrangement.

Let yourself enjoy your best china! A crisp, white tablecloth with an elegant lace trim is always romantic. Transform your lighting by adding sparkle to your chandelier; try using crystals, which can be found in home décor shops and online.

The Bathroom

In the bathroom, Debra tells us not to underestimate the power of candles:

“You can install a chandelier made of candles above the tub. Not electrical, of course, because that would be against [building] code, but a hanging fixture that you can decorate with flowers as well as candles. You don’t even have to light them!”

© Debra J Interiors

© Debra J Interiors

Also, having luxurious towels waiting for you is a great way to pamper yourself, she adds.

The Bedroom and Beyond

In the bedroom, comforters and blankets should be thick and luxurious. Crisp, soft, and inviting sheets are also a must. Debra shares another little trick: keep a nice-smelling cream near the bed and smooth some on before bed. The scent will linger for hours.

“Romance is as much about expectation as it is about action.”

~Debra J. Stein

The bedroom is an especially important room for good ambience. Lighting should be chosen to create mood and beauty.

A little well-placed sparkle, like gold, silver, and crystal adds dimension and romance to a home. “As long as you don’t go overboard,” Debra explains, “even lace can fit into a contemporary home without it feeling like you’re at Grandma’s.”

“Moments in Design”

Of course, creating romance isn’t all about the bedroom. The way the light hits a chandelier, the pleasing way that pillows are arranged on a sofa or bed, even the gentle way fabric drapes over a piece of furniture… these are all things that make us feel emotions in a subtle but deep way. Debra calls this “moments in design,” which is also the title of her book.

The special moments are in the details, she claims. Interior design as a whole is about skillfully constructing these special moments in the home. Each moment encapsulates an emotion that can be conveyed through design. She shares these moments visually in her book, Moments in Design.

Also, her blog, which can be found on her website at, is full of beautiful pictures and design ideas which can be used to enhance your own personal oasis.

PlumbTalk Women Connects with Entrepreneurs, Artists, and Everyday Women Who Make a Difference

Every woman needs a sanctuary. Interior design is just one of the ways women heighten their senses of home, beauty, and belonging. Every moment is worth it!

We are thrilled that women like Debra J. Stein remind us to not take these moments for granted. She is part of a community of women – which includes you! – who are determined to make this world a little more beautiful.



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