At Home With Design

_mg_3486

Perhaps nothing is more representative of  interior designers than their homes and studios.  

Photography by Andrew Wilkinson

In addition to being a personal haven, it acts as  a blank canvas for creativity. For our interior  designer photo series, Princeton Magazine got  the opportunity to peek inside the homes of some of the areas most respected interior designers. Here, they share their design aesthetic, personal mottos, career highlights, and more.

AJ Margulis, Owner/Senior Interior Designer

AJ Margulis Interiors

136 King George Road, Pennington, NJ

609.577.0666 | ajmargulisinteriors.com

“‘Never say never,’ it applies to all  aspects of life,  especially in design. One always has to be ready to switch gears and consider  a new perspective.”  — AJ Margulis

AJ Margulis Interiors is a full service design firm headed by its eponymous owner, AJ Margulis, who recently received two Design Excellence Awards from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Margulis and her team provide space planning, furniture and lighting selection, accessorizing, and more.

Describe your design aesthetic in three words:

Inviting, classic, and current.

What is your favorite room in a home?

I don’t have a favorite room when I am designing.  For me, all rooms are fun to tackle and each can be beautiful and rewarding in their own way.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs—

at least one beautiful piece of art to be complete.

What inspires your designs?

My work is inspired by everything: my life, my kids, my travels, what I read, what I watch. I get ideas from all sorts of things. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is nature; I often keep rocks and leaves and use them as color guides on projects.

What has been your career highlight thus far?

I think the first job I ever did that was really soup-to-nuts is still my highlight.  A large home where I began working with the architect on the floor plan and then moved on to choosing all the finishes, trim, furnishings, and lighting.  Kitchen, bathrooms… the whole enchilada.  Seeing that job through and completing it with an extremely happy client gave me the confidence to take on a 17,000 square foot house, renovate an historical inn, and tackle many other design challenges that were thrown my way.

With a Master’s Degree in interior design under the architecture school at Arizona State University, Margulis understands that architecture and design cannot live separately. This is an integral part of her design process, which she explains below:

Meeting with my client and understanding their design aesthetic and wish list is my priority and comes first.  Once that is established, the second step is to lay out the space correctly.  The best rooms wrap you in an embrace. This can only be created by having the right mix of architecture and design.  The way the spaces flow together is as important as the right mix of textures, colors, furnishings and lighting. The accessories add the finishing touch.

_mg_0907

Deborah Leamann, Principal/Interior Designer 

Deborah Leamann Interior Design, LLC 

250 Main Street, Pennington, NJ

609.737.3330 | deborahleamanninterior.com

“Rooms you love to live in, that’s what I create!” 

  —Deborah Leamann

Deborah Leamann Interior Design is a full service design firm. Projects range from full home conception to single room conception and one time in home consultations are available.

Describe your design aesthetic in three words:

Beautiful, harmonious, and pleasing.

What is your favorite room in a home?

The kitchen.

Finish this sentence: Every room needs 

Art.

What inspires your designs?

My clients inspire my work. Their desires and aspirations keep me moving forward.

What has been your career highlight thus far?

My career highlight was being able to renovate and design a 6,500 square foot, 1920-era Maisonette in Manhattan on the East River. It was more than one year in the planning and then nine months of renovation. I was able to put together our team of an ‘Architectural Digest Top 100’ architect and builder DeBono Construction. The most fabulous part was my client.  It was an unforgettable design journey. We were always on the same page at all times creating beauty along the way.

With over thirty years of design experience working with discerning clients from across the country, Leamann has developed a deep understanding of an entire space. “My favorite design element is starting a project with great architectural bones, then layering all the wonderful interior ingredients to make it home,” she says. Indeed, her thoughtful designs offer contemporary comfort that maintains the familiarity of a home. This is due inpart to her respect for classic design and the tried-and-true rules that go along with it. 

There is one old design rule I learned at the onset of my career: either match the window treatments to the floor covering or to the wall,” Leamann explains. “It’s a rule that gets broken frequently, but sometimes with a tricky space, it is very sage advice.

_mg_3877

Robert Jennings, Owner/Interior Designer & Decorator

Robert Jennings Design, LLC

New Hope, PA | 908.442.9437 robertjenningsdesign.com

http://bit.ly/2cm8pbp

“Form follows function. A space must be functional to suit the homeowner’s way of living.”  – Robert Jennings

Robert Jennings Design is an interior design firm specializing in complete home transformations. Projects range from new build homes and entire house renovations to single room furniture plans.

Describe your design aesthetic in three words: 

Functional, timeless, captivating.

What is your favorite room in a home?

The kitchen. It really is the heart of the home.

Finish this sentence: Every room needs —

To be well-lived-in and enjoyed.

What inspires your design?

The client, architecture, and natural surroundings.

What has been your career highlight thus far?

I would have to say my project called Helm in Mantoloking, NJ.  Under my sole direction, I renovated a completely dated house into a warm welcoming getaway where the true potential of the home was realized. I finished the whole house renovation in a record four months to have it ready for a wedding shower. The home was complete for six weeks before Hurricane Sandy hit and flooded the house with five inches of water. I had to do it again! I did everything in the home: the design, furniture, finish selections, landscaping and pool, down to the silverware and dishes. I even had the refrigerator stocked and directed the caterers to set up the party. The client was blown away when they arrived; I was ready for the emergency room.

As is evident in his retelling of the tumultuous design project, Helm, Jennings is relentlessly committed to any endeavor.  Rated a pro-level designer on the community interior design website, Houzz, he has received praise for both his thoughtful nature and his thoughtful designs. After having their 35-year-old Colonial transformed by Jennings, one client wrote on Houzz:

“Robert has incredible vision, wonderful communication skills and is a true design professional…But [his] skills do not stop there…he is incredibly kind and honest.”

In addition to his design-savvy, Jennings has a knack for working with realtors, contractors, and any other intermediary. This, paired with his worldly sensibilities and penchant for renovating outdated homes, makes his designs memorable.

I have had the incredible opportunity to live and travel extensively through Europe, Japan, and India, which has greatly influenced my inspiration in design. I love the experience of creating a customized and personal home through my unique relationships with my clients and contractors.

_mg_3245

Elizabeth Guest, Principal/Owner

Elizabeth Guest Interiors, LLC

908.236.0503 | elizabethguestinteriors.com

“My personal motto is ‘Beautiful living…with fine design.’ My firm’s goal is to make beauty and style a part of everyday living: to give my clients environments that are useful and functional, and infuse them with a luxe-attitude and comfort.” — Elizabeth Guest

Elizabeth Guest Interiors is a high-end interior design firm that provides a customized, individualized approach to each project ranging from hourly consultations to complete project management and implementation.

Describe your design aesthetic in three words:

Classic, eclectic, and global-chic.

What is your favorite room in a home?

The main living area—call it a great room, family room, living room—the space that is most often used by everyone in a family, including pets.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs —

That unique piece that conveys the owner’s individuality and point of view.

What inspires your designs?

I am inspired by so many different visual references—art, nature, gardens, travel to different countries and locations. The act of seeing and absorbing everything around me can be like falling down a rabbit hole—there is an endless stream of things to really LOOK at and absorb that trigger my imagination and will cue me to make a mental ‘file.’

What has been your career highlight thus far?

I was one of the designer’s selected to create a room in the prestigious ‘Mansion in May’ 2014 designer show house that took place at the Blairsden Mansion in Gladstone, NJ. We had over 33,000 visitors in one month and raised over $2,000,000 for the Goryeb Children’s Hospital, Morristown Medical Center.

Guest seeks to create a layered room with depth of design when undertaking a project. Her rooms achieve balance and symmetry while mixing fabrics, textures, and finishes. The resultant space artfully juxtaposes old and new for modern livability. Her late mother-in-law and style icon, C.Z. Guest, largely influences Elizabeth’s hybrid design aesthetic. 

“She had impeccable taste with homes,” says Elizabeth.  “They were the ultimate blend of glamour, chic, and comfort. I absorbed so much of that over the years spent with her, and that same aesthetic has infused my work today.”  C.Z.’s influence continues in the overall brand of Elizabeth’s design firm, which she explains below: 

“Elizabeth Guest Interiors delivers classic luxury and comfort with a modern, global vision. Every project is custom tailored and designed to reflect each unique client’s specific story and wishes. I love seeing a client’s enjoyment and use of a finished space that they may not have visualized for themselves.  As the saying goes, ‘Give them what they don’t know they wanted!’”

_mg_5297

Judy King, Owner

Judy King Interiors LLC

44 Spring Street

Princeton, NJ 08542

609.279.0440

www.judykinginteriors.com

“First impressions are lasting.” — Judy King        

Judy King Interiors offers distinctive custom designs driven by a passion for pattern and an inspired eye for color. With every detail and nuance tailored to express each client’s personal style, King’s work is original, creative, and executed according to the highest standards.

Describe your design aesthetic in three words:

Harmonious, original, personal.

What is your favorite room in a home?

The kitchen—the heart of every home.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs —

Personality.

What inspires your designs?

I get inspired by nature, organic elements, fashion, travel, and art. Two of my favorite artists are Damien Hirst and Jackson Pollock.

What has been your career highlight thus far?

My greatest career highlight thus far has been getting into the Kip’s Bay Designer Show House in New York City. In addition, I am fortunate enough to have really great clients from all over the country that respect my creativity.

Founded by Judy King in 1990, Judy King Interiors design studio and antique shop are located in the center of Princeton. Establishments that have recognized King’s work include the Kip’s Bay Boys and Girls Show House, Junior League of Princeton Show Houses, Cap and Gown Club of Princeton University, Planned Parenthood, the New York Academy of Art, Trenton Children’s Choir, and Trinity Counsel of Princeton. 

Whether she is shopping at a flea market in Paris or visiting The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Judy King has a passion for staying ahead of the trends. Her love of fashion, color, and juxtaposition are reflected in all of her designs.