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CasaSugar Interviews Domino Founding Editor in Chief Deborah Needleman

Casa Interview, Part II: Domino Founding Editor Deborah Needleman (and an Awesome Giveaway!)

Deborah Needleman, the founding editor of Domino, is a goldmine of savvy advice on decorating your home, honed from years of experience heading up the style-centric magazine as well as decorating her own home. You can read the first half of my interview with her here. Deborah's tips and thoughts on decorating continue in the second half of this interview.

Our homes are really personal spaces. Considering that most of us are shopping from the same few décor retailers and finding inspiration in the same shelter magazines and blogs, how should we go about personalizing our homes?

Every home definitely needs a few old things and a couple unique things. And when most of what we have is mass-produced, it's more important than ever to have some things made by actual human hands, whether it's pottery, rugs, pictures, whatever. It is essential to find a few things that no one else has, whether you find them in a shop, at a tag sale, bring them back from a trip, collect them from nature, or even make them — like just tacking up drawings or notes from friends. Stuff that is meaningful to us, what we love or collect or find is interesting to our guests. I also do think it's really nice to have one really good piece — whether that's a table, rug, chandelier, whatever. It gives your room some substance, some weight — and also ensures it doesn't look like anyone else's.

To read the rest of the interview,


I love your home, which I saw featured in New York magazine a few years ago. I know that you’re a big fan of neutrals and white, or at least you were when that article was written. Are you still a neutrals gal?
Thanks. It's funny, in New York City which is so chaotic and where I get easily overwhelmed, I need to be a neutral gal. It totally calms me down, and keeps my head clear. But upstate, where I feel more relaxed, I love layering patterns and color — florals, suzanis, chintzes, Indian prints, etc. I'm covering my sofa there in purple linen, my study is painted black, and one room is the craziest color green I've ever seen.

I love how your home is elegant and adult-oriented, yet still kid-accessible. What is your advice on and personal experience with creating gorgeous spaces that are also kid-friendly?
I have never understood dumbing down design for kids. No one had kid-friendly homes when I was growing up — people just had the homes they had and their children lived in them! A family home is for adults and children — why on earth would anyone give over their living room to let it look like a play room?!  I'll probably get hate mail for this, but aside from a gate so children don't tumble down the stairs, and maybe a lock on the cabinet if you have the kind of children that want to eat the Ajax or whatever, children can be taught that table edges are sharp and that food is to be eaten in the kitchen and that open markers can't be left on the rug!


Other than that, if you have a fairly light palette like I do, you have to accept that you won't have the cleanest house in the world. Fortunately I like a bit of a patina on things! I like that the floor is scuffed by skateboards in part because I love a house where children feel free to run wild, have loads of friends over, and make forts out of the sofa cushions, but also where they have a sense of responsibility and respect for things. Oh, and I have cheap rugs, so if they get destroyed, I won't be sad! And I certainly wouldn't choose a linen velvet sofa fabric if I had to do it again! Kids don't rule the roost, they share it.

Your HomeGoods
StyleScope tool helps home decorators find their style. How would you describe your own style?
I think I'm fairly conventional at core — I couldn't have furniture at funny angles or a bed floating in a room or anything too wacky or "fun." I dig symmetry. I like things that are classic in shape and form — not overly embellished, but I appreciate many kinds of design. I think I take this fairly classic base and mess it up a bit. I'm certainly not traditional. I like to layer on personality and quirk with ethnic textiles, cushions, interesting objects, fabrics, and art.  I love stuff from India, Morocco, England. Thus, Bohemian Classic.

And to revive a favorite Domino feature of mine, what are 10 things that make you happy?

Hilarious question! Well, first of all, we never let people say their children or their dogs!!! Too boring and obvious.

  1. Nearly all Santa Maria Novella products (if I could only choose one thing, it'd be their potpourri. But I'm crazy about the milk body cream, the honeysuckle perfume, and the pomegranate soap and bath salts). I am obsessed with scent — on my body and in my home!
  2. My veg garden. (Really, seeing my children eat their way through our veg garden, but at Domino I would've edited that out as too sentimental!)
  3. Making flower arrangements for the house.
  4. My white parsons table (I have two) — and a brilliant new parsons side table in the pitch-perfect green color.
  5. Comfy chairs in kitchens and bathrooms.
  6. Cheap weekly blowouts from walk-in, no-appointment places.
  7. Summer dinner outside with friends.
  8. Staying in a lovely hotel room (never a trendy hotel, I like old-school, old-fashioned hotels). I love that nothing belongs to me and the beds are perfectly made. The Duc du St. Simon in Paris is pretty excellent.
  9. Bobbi Brown makeup. Makes you look sun-kissed, not dolled up.
  10. I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't say this, but having a decorator!! Specifically having the genius Rita Konig as a decorator!

Thank you, Deborah! We have a special giveaway for you CasaSugar readers on the way. One of you lucky readers will win a $500 gift card to HomeGoods! Check back for more details about the giveaway later on today!

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