Seeking Center: The Podcast

The Design Whisperer: Find the Soul of Your Home - Episode 52

February 20, 2023 Robyn Miller Brecker, Karen Loenser, Debra Baum Season 2 Episode 52
The Design Whisperer: Find the Soul of Your Home - Episode 52
Seeking Center: The Podcast
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Seeking Center: The Podcast
The Design Whisperer: Find the Soul of Your Home - Episode 52
Feb 20, 2023 Season 2 Episode 52
Robyn Miller Brecker, Karen Loenser, Debra Baum

We all spend so much time in our homes -- how does yours make you feel? Does it feel like an extension of you? Does it feel soul-infused?

Meet our dear friend Debra Baum who is extraordinarily gifted when it comes to transforming any space into a place with its own distinct soul.

She makes spaces come alive. If it's your home, she'll help it reflect your soul. If it's a public space, it will have a personality all its own. She has spent the last few decades designing and operating retail stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars, boutique hotels, and many private residences, and she knows how to do this with budgets big and small.

Your home should greet you when you walk in the door. Debra knows how to curate and create beautiful spaces that are both functional and welcoming, and she’s sharing secrets and tips galore in this episode.

She works on both commercial and residential projects with her company, Debra Baum Design. Her most important design objective is to make spaces feel “unstaged” and personal – she finds their heartbeat.

We call her the “design whisperer.” If you're looking to find the soul of your home or  any space, she's a wealth of inspiration and design wisdom.

To find out more about working with Debra visit and follow her on Instagram @debrabaumdesign.

Visit for more from Robyn + Karen, plus mega inspo -- and the best wellness + spiritual practitioners, products and experiences on the planet!

You can also follow Seeking Center on Instagram @theseekingcenter

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We all spend so much time in our homes -- how does yours make you feel? Does it feel like an extension of you? Does it feel soul-infused?

Meet our dear friend Debra Baum who is extraordinarily gifted when it comes to transforming any space into a place with its own distinct soul.

She makes spaces come alive. If it's your home, she'll help it reflect your soul. If it's a public space, it will have a personality all its own. She has spent the last few decades designing and operating retail stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars, boutique hotels, and many private residences, and she knows how to do this with budgets big and small.

Your home should greet you when you walk in the door. Debra knows how to curate and create beautiful spaces that are both functional and welcoming, and she’s sharing secrets and tips galore in this episode.

She works on both commercial and residential projects with her company, Debra Baum Design. Her most important design objective is to make spaces feel “unstaged” and personal – she finds their heartbeat.

We call her the “design whisperer.” If you're looking to find the soul of your home or  any space, she's a wealth of inspiration and design wisdom.

To find out more about working with Debra visit and follow her on Instagram @debrabaumdesign.

Visit for more from Robyn + Karen, plus mega inspo -- and the best wellness + spiritual practitioners, products and experiences on the planet!

You can also follow Seeking Center on Instagram @theseekingcenter

Robyn: [00:00:00] I'm Robyn Miller Brecker, 

Karen: and I'm Karen Loenser. Welcome to seeking center. The podcast,

Robyn: join us each week as we have the conversations and weed through the spiritual and holistic clutter for you, we'll boil it down to what you need to know. Now 

Karen: we're all about total wellness, which to us needs building a healthy life on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.

We'll talk to the trailblazers who will introduce you to the practices, products, and experiences. That may be just what you need to hear about to transform your life. 

If you're listening to this, it's no accident. Think of this as your seeking center and your place to seek your center. And for even more mega inspo sign up for seeking center.

The newsletter at seeking center . 

Robyn: We are beyond excited to introduce you to our dear friend Debra Baum, who also happens to be extraordinarily gifted when it comes to transforming any space into a place with its own distinct soul.

She makes spaces come alive. If it's your home, she'll help [00:01:00] it reflect your soul. If it's a public space, it will have a personality all its own. She has spent the last few decades designing and operating retail stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars, boutique hotels, and many private residences, and she knows how to do this.

With budgets big and small, your home should greet you when you walk in the door. Debra knows how to curate and create beautiful spaces that are both functional and welcoming, and she's going to share a few of her secrets in this episode.

 She works on both commercial and residential projects with her company, debra Baum design. Her most important design objective is to make spaces feel and really finds their heartbeat.

 I call her the design whisperer. If you're looking to find the soul of your home or of any space, she's a wealth of inspiration and design wisdom. Let's get talking. Hi, Debra 

Debra: hi. 

Robyn: We are so excited to talk to you.

And I wish people could actually see your background right now, you just moved into a new home and you renovated you made it all your own [00:02:00] and it's so reflective of your style. Debra's in her kitchen right now and it's black and white and cool.

And all things. Debra. And 

Karen: I'm looking at her right now and I would never even know it was a kitchen, which I think says a lot right there. Totally. 

Debra: That's so funny. I guess you're right. I have this espresso machine behind me that I need to hide , but other than that you would not know.

It's my kitchen. Thank you. I love it. We've put a lot of heart and soul into this place. It was a great. Shell great bones. We saw vision. Although a lot of people thought we were insane, we're like, I swear it's easy. It's just cosmetic.

it really turned out to be that. 

Karen: I've heard a lot of people say that about great bones, but there are many of us that don't know what to do next. So let's just start at the very beginning. Cause I know we have a million questions we wanna ask you, but if you were to meet someone fresh and new, or even just talking to our audience how do you describe your work?

Debra: So somebody would come to me because either they are redoing a home and they have an interior designer, which I don't do that cuz it's not something that I love to [00:03:00] do in a whole house. I love to do the layering and the vibe of the home and making it a home.

So after your designer, if you have a designer they're done with the project. I can either work with the designer or just straight with the client and I will take the beautiful space and I'll fill your bookshelves and fill your coffee table and your kitchen and master bathroom and all the things that make a a home because, you can go on a tour of a million empty, beautiful homes, but they're not a home. I get to know the person 

. Do you have kids? Do you have a family? Are you a powerful businesswoman that just is like on your own, that are, your career is your most important?

Do you travel? And really listen to everything they feel makes them who they are and what's important. And I go with that first. And, 

I pull from what the client is and loves and I layer in with old new and what they already have in their homes that they don't realize are usable, which is my favorite thing to do. So I go shopping in their homes. I make them show me what's in their closets, what's in their dining room drawer, what did you [00:04:00] get from your wedding 20 years ago?

And I'll pull it all out and I'll pa and play with all of those things, plus new things, plus vintage things, which is my passion, and create this very cool personal vibe. 

Robyn: That really is finding the soul of a 

Debra: home. Yeah. Robyn pulled that out of me because I never thought of it like that.

But I've been doing this for 25 plus years, and even further, going back into college, I would do that in my apartments and my homes with my friends. And I would just take all of our stuff and fix up the den and fix, and it looking back, you go through all these careers and all these things and it's weird to think about where it started.

Karen: I'm sitting here in this new house, which is exactly Debra, how you described we spent so much time on the architecture and are we gonna get the right light in the windows?

so many who might not have that luxury of even starting with designing the space I think it's what you're saying, it's those layers that really make it your own, that really bring it to life.

But I think many of us, me included, get overwhelmed because you can look at your stuff and you're like, oh, I've looked at that stuff [00:05:00] for so many years. And you have a fresh way of looking at it and layering it, like you said. Are there any specifics that you could give to somebody listening right now of like where you start?

Are there specific things that you start with in a room? Is it color, is it texture? Is it a combination of those things? How do I start to even think like you and layering in those aspects to give 

Debra: it that energy that you talk about?

I find it's interesting. We all dress like we live. And so I've realized over the years, like I know Robyn wears black and it's her signature color and then if you go to her home, she does the coolest things with the color black. I also do the same thing with me, not on purpose, but you gravitate to what you like love and dress like.

That's where I start. I really get a feel for How they present themselves, Like even Karen, I don't know you, but looking at your glasses and looking at what you're wearing, I feel like I can tap into where you'd go and even the beautiful things behind you.

So I really try again, like the story of a [00:06:00] person and asking them do you gravitate towards wood? Do you gravitate towards metal? Are you modern? Do you like leather? I really ask them a series of questions before I get going so where do you start?

to me you start with materials that you gravitate to, fabrics color, and just the basics of, what textural things do you like? what makes you feel calm or great, or if you are decorating a game room, like each room should have a different feeling and a different vibe to it based on what you want done in that room.

I love that, especially 

Karen: for those of us who feel like they have to go to home goods Yeah. And that in itself is overwhelming and expensive. But even what you just said, I never thought of even starting with me, I always think about starting with, what will 

Debra: look good?

And that's also such an interesting thing. What I do does not have to be expensive cuz sometimes it's to me like almost wearing a designer bag, are you buying the designer bag cuz you love what it looks like or you buying it because it makes you feel a certain way. So to me it's like a vintage item for $25 could make you feel as good [00:07:00] as a thousand dollars new thing from a fancy store.

So I really do love to mix and match and take heirlooms and things that are really thoughtful to put on a shelf other than just making it look like a showroom because. , anybody can copy a picture. And I love looking at pictures, but I feel like that's an inspiration and then we make it personal.

Robyn: that idea of what you said about how you dress and really looking at yourself and how that is reflected in your home. I really think most people listening have not thought about it that way. It's just like when we say, we talk about energy, honestly, it's like you've never really thought about energy.

I don't think most people have thought about the fact that most of the time in their homes if they don't feel that their home is reflecting who they are, it's because it's like you're looking at it from the way in quotes we're supposed to. 

Debra: totally. It really does come from within you and then you bring it out.

And even as I've gotten older, What's cool about getting older is reflecting on what you've learned all of these past years. So now when I'm designing my house or whoever's [00:08:00] house, I pretty much max out at five colors and all of those colors go together no matter what the pattern and what the texture and what the color is.

 They all five colors go together. So it's really a palette and again, like in my closet, it's the same thing. It's bizarre and it's not on purpose. It's interesting when you really think about mixing a pillow with a chair, with a book, with a whatever.

They all go but they don't go. Yeah, 

Robyn: that's so true. I wanna also just to point out I know you. That, people they're designing their own homes in terms of the interiors or they're working with somebody. But do you ever help people when you talk about the palette and things like that, if they're not working with the designer, are you ever advising on 

Debra: that?

Yeah, and also I don't only work with new construction or architects or designers. I love going into somebody's home who's lived there for 20 years and they're just like, I need a refresher. And so I'll come in and I'll again assess the situation and just moving things around from room to room or pulling books that are sitting in your closet or a [00:09:00] serving bowl that you think is done.

That can be a beautiful display in a different way in your house. So I really do try to shop in your home first before I spend any money because it doesn't have to be. A zillion dollars no matter where your budget, we can always make things look beautiful, are there 

Karen: mistakes that people make when they think about designing their houses?

Do you find that people go 

Debra: down one path of feeling like everything does 

Karen: have to be 

Debra: Matchy, or Yes. 

Yeah. Nobody does it wrong. to me there's no rules. It's really like a feeling. So I don't wanna bash it, but you're right. Matchy. And I'm very into uneven numbers because if it's too perfect too perfect to me is not what you're going for.

And sometimes, social media. Whether it's physical, whether it's your home, it's all portraying this perfect life and perfect hair and perfect skin and nothing's perfect. So it's fun to get people out of that head space. And even if they're super modern, you can [00:10:00] change their mind just with a color pop.

 I was just at somebody's house right before this and their whole house is beautiful and it's beiges and grays and blacks and whites. And I was like, you need a little color. Nothing scary. What's your favorite color? And the husband's blue. So I found two beautiful blue lamps, not a bright blue, like a beautiful muted blue to go in this room that's all cold textures and color so there's ways to get them to see.

Past what they think is the norm standard kind of thing. Yeah. And I think what people 

Robyn: don't realize is the joy, something as small and two 

Debra: blue lamps. Oh my God. Yeah. Actually just read an article and I wish I could remember where it was from, but it was just about if your space makes you happy, you crave coming home.

Yes. Like you can be in, Italy at the most fabulous hotel in the whole world and you're like, I come home and I love my house because it's warm and you, and the energy is comfort. So yeah. That's why it's important to style your home in a way that's who you are. . 

Robyn: You touched on this a little [00:11:00] bit in terms of your journey, but when do you think you knew you had this ability?

Debra: Yeah. Truly, Robyn, you and I were talking and you asked me a question that sparked the when, and it freaked me out actually because I went back and I really did start in college not knowing what I was doing.

Just going by feeling. And then when, you graduate college, you move into your first apartment, no one cared but me, not just I don't wanna say The most important thing is how your home looks. Cause that's not true, but it's the feeling of when you walk in what you want your guests to feel.

So I always was the one going to flea markets and going to garage sales and pulling a mirror out that was 20 bucks. Painting it, hanging it above our mantle in Lincoln Park. And n said, when did you That is when I started unknowingly. I was in marketing and other things.

I was doing that for fun. Exactly. So if you come back around, and , not to age myself, but like the late nineties. and now it's [00:12:00] 2023 and this is where I'm landing after doing 10 years of hotel design and curating spaces, bars and coffee shops and all those things. Like I keep going back to what is easy for me and this is it.

Which is really weird. And Robyn I will say, you made me really see that light. 

Robyn: sense. 

Debra: I mean it, 

Robyn: I'm so grateful cause I think it's so obvious and I think those who know you, so as well as I do. It's really a natural gift. It's an intuitive gift.

We talk about intuition on here all the time. That is your superpower, . 

Debra: I didn't know that. I didn't, as a younger person, associate, I didn't even really know what intuitive meant because we don't Exactly. Cuz we don't talk about that. No. Especially then none of us talked about that.

That's right. And if you think it was like woo and now it is so real and so a part of everything I do and think even subconsciously, 

Karen: That's why it's such a good example of something to talk about here, because I think so many of us may be following our bliss, living our [00:13:00] purpose, but don't think that we're really doing anything that's spectacular.

That it's not above and beyond. And yet what you're doing every day, it's bringing you joy, which is the best place to start. But the second thing that you're doing is giving that joy to other people and think about those public spaces that you design, where people are just going through and they're probably, they're picking up on that energy, not even knowing that's what they're picking up on.

And that is the gift that we all wanna give back 

Debra: to the world, really. It's so true. And I always was like, oh, I'm not a doctor. I'm not saving lives, or, oh, I'm not, whatever. But there is joy you're in your home more than anywhere else. You're raising your family or your loved one, or your spouse, or your mom, whatever it is.

You go home every day and you sleep and you live and you do your thing. And it should be full of joy and to 

Robyn: Karen's point, you brought that into public spaces too, which became such and no matter what you were creating, I know having been there, there was always a flock of people who would just wanna be there, even if, it was a hotel and they weren't staying at the hotel, they wanted to be in [00:14:00] the lobby because of the energy that you brought to it by what you created.

And I think that gift also in knowing these vintage items and redoing them and knowing how to bring them back to glory or really just update them in a way that makes them relevant and soulful Now. Deborah and I talk about this all the time.

Yes, I love decorating my home to reflect me that I didn't know I was doing that either , but I really have come to realize that is what I've done with my homes. But I don't have the patience or the talent , to go into a flea market or a garage sale and look at something and say, oh, I know what I could do with that.

You have that and you've done it on really grand scales you have created so much and really a whole business by knowing pieces. that could come back to glory and make someone else happy.

do you see, when you go into these markets, do things just stand out to you? Because again, that's a gift that I don't think you are even realizing you have. Yeah, I

Debra: well two things [00:15:00] with the public spaces. My husband and I worked together with our other partner we did boutique hotels in Chicago and Nashville and in these little hotels, they were very artsy, very creative, 

my husband is was the visionary of these properties. So he'd come up with these crazy ideas and we would build them out and they wouldn't have the layers of warmth in them yet. So they're really cool spaces, but they didn't have, again, what made Robyn just say like the vibe. So I accidentally would be like, this is what this needs.

And I would go with the theme of whatever the project was, which was vintage sports. And I just knew we needed a thousand vintage trophies in the lobby, in the basement but the way we displayed them and the way it all tied together once everything was done was the magic. So I've just learned over the years, I intuitively go to things in flea markets and antique stores, just things I feel are cool or beautiful.

Robyn: I think it's energy. , everyone listening is okay. Crazy. I do [00:16:00] think, that there is a, calling to you. 

Debra: I'm fast. I do it I zip through, I was working on a bar. We need a speakeasy in this hotel. It was this 52 room little hotel in Chicago and River North. The hotel was called Fieldhouse Jones, and the whole theme was around Chicago Fieldhouses and a community and the people that go and hang here.

Wanna be in a just like a communal space that everyone's accepted, no matter your race, your religion, this is a place for everybody to go. And so we just started off shooting within these four walls, different businesses. So we did a coffee shop and we did whatever. So my husband is like I wanna make a speakeasy in the janitor's closet and call it the janitor's closet.

And I was like, you're insane, but this sounds really cool. . So we took this tiny room, it was a 12 seat bar and the most fun was finding the items that weren't so corny and obvious to be a janitor's closet who wants to drink in a janitor's closet? But we, the lights, we got the coolest bartender. The music was on hip hoppy, on point, really [00:17:00] vibey candle lit.

And we created this very cool vibe with super high-end cocktails, which doesn't make sense. The menu was on. a dish but it wasn't corny, it just was cool and I don't know why and I don't know how, but it worked so again, I went to the flea market and I was like, okay, obviously a mop bucket is what you'd think to get for this, but that's too corny.

So we just layered it with things that were beautiful to look at and very design focused. But you knew they were a janitor's closet, so was fun. 

Karen: and you're creating the experience. 

Robyn: Yes, Karen, that's what 

Debra: it's, yes. 

Karen: All dimensional so that you're sitting there and you don't even realize what you're getting.

you don't realize how deep the experience is, but yet you feel it. That's why I love this whole conversation around energy, because that's what all of this is. It is. It's of what you feel being there. It's the nostalgia. I love what you're saying about these old things that you give it new life.

That has an energy in itself. It's bringing that energy from [00:18:00] wherever it's been, and that's palpable to people whether they know it or not. 

Debra: And it's so fun to watch them in this space. When people would come, like Robyn said, when I'd be in this lobby with this coffee shop, and it was full of people and energy 

I felt just so proud that people wanna come, like, why do people wanna come here? But they wanted to come and my energy felt good just from everyone wanting to be in the space. 

Karen: It was funny, my son and I were just talking about yesterday at how it's almost disappointing how many hotels and restaurants now are exactly the same. 

And I get why they do that, but it's not special anymore. 

Debra: And that's the only problem with social media. The copycat thing is a problem. And so we love to travel for inspiration we just went to Mexico City and just walking the streets and seeing things done differently.

That's the thing, everyone looks on Pinterest. So I'm gonna do white subway tile, I'm gonna do green cabinets and I'm gonna do brass ball blights, and that's it. No one is risking taking that inspiration and recreating it. And that's what I think is so much fun about [00:19:00] design. I look at all that stuff and I appreciate it all, but you have to evolve.

It's all about evolving into your own thing It's also 

Karen: Having those feelings about the things that you buy or yes. It's not like a cookie cutter bowl or picture that's coming on the wall. it's stuff that does bring you that nostalgia. It's your grandmother's dishes, it's something that you did buy, like the first thing you bought outta college, cuz you had actually 50 more cents to, rub together.

It's all of those things that, it's a life story. 

Debra: it's such a good way to put it. It's a life story. And whenever you travel, buy something there. Not expensive, but from local shop or something like, I know every single thing in my house.

I know where it's from. I know the story behind it. And by the way, some of it is from Home Goods and I love that. And some of it's from Target and I love that. But then bringing in these other components using my grandmother's silver in my modern kitchen, I serve charcuterie and nuts and candy when I'm having friends over, in silver, which I just, I love it.

It makes me [00:20:00] happy and it looks cool with the super sleek. and most people wouldn't wanna do that. They'd be like, that's for granny's. But I 

Robyn: love it. a hundred percent and just the way that you're talking about that I think hopefully is opening people's eyes up to the mixture of different old, new.

 things that may be more expensive, less expensive. And you and I, Deborah always talk about looking for some good deals. We actually sometimes enjoy things a lot more when we were like, we got that for 

Debra: Oh yeah. And we must the price 

Robyn: we don't go for maybe the easiest place to buy something where, it's gonna cost a little more. , you and I are , we're on the find, we're hunting. We love it. And it's about mixing the old and the new to that point of that feeling.

 We've talked before on here about. Energy of a home. But we talk a lot about too, it's the stuff and the stuff that's sometimes sitting in your basement and if you haven't cleared it out, it's weighing things down. Yeah. I think what I love about this conversation, is utilizing certain stuff to [00:21:00] elevate the home.

and I would love for you to share that one story that was recently, someone was privileged enough, let's just say, to have a big enough closet that they needed some help with organizing and actually making it feel like not just another closet. Can you talk about what you did with that?

Debra: So she already had a beautiful closet. She just moved some of the pieces around and opened the whole thing off. It was literally the size of a bedroom. Ok. So 

Robyn: just point down that not everybody. 

Debra: She knows how lucky she is.

And by the way, you can do this in a little closet or a big closet. She happened to be, yes, thank you. The lucky ones. And she said, I want this to feel like a boutique because I had lived in a very old house, such as Robyn from the twenties, and my closet was this dressing room, cuz in the old days you'd have a little dressing room.

So I had kept, and this is relevant, I kept the wallpaper that came with the house that was original to the house in my closet. And I just had clothing racks all around. And I decked it out, hung jewelry on the walls, hung all these purses on the wall, just made [00:22:00] it feel, instead of building out a new closet, I made it like a boutique.

anyway, so she's I want that feeling. She had a new construction closet and so I said, okay, you organized your clothes and then I'll come in. So she did that, went around her house pulled out old velvet boxes her grandmother's kiddish cup. I pulled out old boxes just from like old bags.

She had bowls from her wedding all around her house. And I went upstairs with everything. And her granny, she's from South Africa and her granny used to hand knit. , these little finger puppets. And she had hundreds and hundreds of these beautiful colored little finger puppets. And her granny was so important to her.

Her children are so important to her travels, and she also loves a little bit of vintage. So I just took everything I felt like energy from Really, Robyn, you pointed this out and what made her heart sing? And so I created just different vignettes with her. One corner was I took a huge glass vase and I filled it with all of her granny's little [00:23:00] finger puppets.

And it just looked beautiful. And she had pictures of her granny and an old necklace and an old candle she had made and all these things. And I took this very modern closet and I was like wallpaper the ceiling. So I sent her some wallpaper, she ordered it and she had a beautiful light that by the way, she bought on Amazon.

So again, the mixing and the matching of the highs and the lows. And I really made everything just feel like a shop. but a meaningful shop. Yes. Yes. And I put purses on silver trays. And I hung a vintage fur. She got for a hundred bucks at a flea market on the wall.

So just made it feel like you just wanna hang out in the closet. 

Robyn: Who 

Karen: would've thought to do something like that? But think about it. If you do have a walkin closet, you're in there a lot. Yeah. So you to feel good. And it's a place where you start end your day.

So Yeah. That's right. I love the taking of the old stuff, the old meaningful things. I'm a big softie from the grandmother, 

Debra: so I love that. And even her kids, had made some ceramics and old artwork. If you take [00:24:00] a kid's scribble , the colors from the picture go with your house.

And again, not matching, but will make a statement, reframe it and it looks like a piece of art. There's so many ways, what are other 

Robyn: ways people can take some things they'd never think about and utilize them in this new way? Is there anything that you suggest 

Debra: yeah, I love, my invitation from my wedding was letter pressed and I asked to keep the metal plates that are like on a wood block.

And so I use those as a paperweight. I'll stack a little pile of books and I just put it on top in my living room and it just looks interesting, and it's meaningful. It's from our wedding invitation. I mean there are so many things. My mom, anything she gives me, I try to repurpose because she didn't have a ton of stuff.

But what she loves, she'd tell me the story behind it and I would take it and put it, somewhere out in my house. And whenever I look at it, I think of her. I'm not a cluttery person.

No, you are not. I'll attest 

Robyn: that. And that's the thing. We're not talking about clutter. we are not [00:25:00] clutter people. 

Debra: No, and it's not hoarding and it's not clutter. It's being thoughtful and curating your space with what has meaning instead of just stuff.

Karen: And you're also creating conversation and meaning for your kids, Because you're saying to them, this is meaningful. And even if you take it out and even holidays or certain times of the year you switch it out. You're actually saying, no, I have this because it's meaningful. Or for my grandmother.

What a great 

Debra: story and 

Karen: keep that alive, and being able to tell your kids the story of why that's important to you, and then you're teaching them the value of things. 

Debra: Yeah. What else do I love? Is whenever I entertain people, how about this energy my mother-in-law and father-in-law were avid antique dealers, . I always collected junky antiques and my mom was very formal, but I was always as a high school and college, like redoing furniture and thrifting and not to the level of them, but I didn't know that.

And then I met them and then I saw what the real world of antiquing is. They've been collectors forever and she gives me beautiful, [00:26:00] candlesticks. And then I started collecting candlesticks. So whenever I have people over, I mix and match all different candlesticks, just down the center of my table.

And they don't match, but they match. And it just creates this beautiful, glowy, warm vibe. And I don't spend any money. They're what I have. And then they become a conversation piece, What are all these? And why do you have 20 candlesticks ? 

Robyn: It's so true. What I'm loving about what we're talking about is just helping people realize that there are so many different ways of infusing this in your home.

infusing the people you love in your home, infusing items that you have had for decades and utilizing them in a different way so that you can enjoy them. I think that's the other thing, wouldn't you say to both 

Debra: of you, right? Yeah. Use 

Robyn: them. Like I think people, somehow we've been told, oh, you only used your nice China on holidays or something like that.

And I do not go by that at all. If those who've been at my house know, I use all my stuff all the time. [00:27:00] I come from a place of knowing that we don't know if tomorrow is promised, so why wouldn't I enjoy everything that I love today. Can either of you talk about that?

Cuz I really think that's for both of you. in terms of how to utilize, there's no rules. I think your candlestick example to me is another example of there are no rules. you don't have to have two batch and candlesticks, 

Debra: totally. And it sounds like I'm just collecting everything that's floral and silver.

I'm pretty modern, which is the irony of it. All right, Robyn? She 

Robyn: is, and I, you know what? Her website will be up so you can take a look and see her vibe, but yeah, you're very modern actually. 

Debra: I That's the funny part. 

Robyn: It's about breaking rules, right? We're told there are these unwritten rules really about how you use things when you have things out, and I just don't think.

like in life for me, I am always like, why are you doing that? There's all different ways this reverberates in my life and this we're talking about home. 

Debra: Yeah. I think our grandparents and our parents', grandparents I think stopping at our parents probably they followed those rules and that's what you did on Christmas, [00:28:00] on the holiday, on all the things you'd bring out your finest everything. And I think, like you said, Robyn, you don't know if you're gonna be here tomorrow.

Put it out. Even if it's like a six person dinner party. Like n has people over, We'll order in, thank God. Cuz who needs to worry about messing up the kitchen? And you come over there and it's like you're in a hotel lobby at like the old Viceroy or the Delano in Miami, she's, again, you're a very mixed bag with a vintage house in modern.

But she puts together this beautiful table and I'm like, I thought we were just eating on paper. No, . It's a vibe and it's an experience I love coming 

Robyn: over. Thank you. And vice versa. And vice versa but it's to what we were saying before, it's an experience, 

That's what really what we're talking about, life is an experience, You're home should rise up to greet you. I think Oprah actually said that, or somebody that , Oprah was talking to on one of our shows, but I'm pretty sure it's Oprah. It's like your home should rise up to greet you.

And that doesn't mean that it's expensive and or huge. It could be the tiniest of. Apartments, but it should feel good. 

Debra: It should [00:29:00] feel welcoming and good and open and you want them to be in your home. That's the thing you want them to feel, you want them there. 

Karen: Oh, that is the best energy of all right.

Going into any kind of experience of wanting to invite people in. I think what was going through my head was, for so many years, the home was a functional place. It wasn't really about, How you felt, right? It was like, okay, we have a bed , we have, maybe we're lucky we have a washer and a dryer, it was really about the function of the home, and yet there was always something about the table and the celebration that always was special, that always brought out the heritage and the tradition, which is so cool that's now coming back again. I think maybe since Covid too, now that people can get back together again and really feel that feeling of oh, I want you here.

I'm so glad you're here. 

Debra: And the function is important because I have always, so I have three kids and since they've been little, I have never, and maybe this is bad, and I'm sorry, judge me now. I never child proofed my home. I [00:30:00] set up my home like I wanted it to feel and look and my kids knew go anywhere, sit on any couch.

I had a white couch and my husband was like, are you crazy? I'm like, So they're not gonna eat chocolate ice cream and go sit on the white couch. But they knew just be respectful. And my houses have always been very functional, but feel, not typically like a children's house where, there's toys, whatever.

I think you can have the best of both. Design can be very functional and you should utilize all the things you have. 

Robyn: so good to hear, and I really think what we're saying is, it's all about energy. And okay, with this conversation, I wanna make sure we talk about Karen's new home. Why don't you talk about, you have a guest room that you were wondering if Deborah could give you some ideas.

Karen: So Deb, I have this teeny tiny little guest room that I wanted to feel really good and warm and welcoming.

. It's, very traditional gray walls, gray carpet, nice white trim, one window. And then it's got my traditional grandmother's 

black armir. which I really [00:31:00] have worked hard to keep with me and wanna use in there. So I just wanna compliment the rest of the 

Debra: room in the right way.

 Do you want me to tell you what I would do? Yes, . I would love to hear, first of all, it's a great canvas. It's a perfect guest room because it's, right now it's just a canvas to do your thing.

How do you want guests to feel when they come into this room? 

Karen: obviously welcome, comfortable, there's not a lot of space, I wanna do something with this window. Something that would be like really pretty here that would give it like a nice so they'd be looking at the sky, not at the neighbors, right next door. And then this is a bathroom right here, . 

Debra: Oh, it's amazing. I love to do hotel feeling rooms and I don't mean sterile, I just mean like you're in another world, like you're in your own sanctuary. And I think guests love they would be surprised to feel that way in a guest room because usually people just leave what you have and they're just like, whatever.

I don't care. So I think somewhere to put a suitcase. So a bench, maybe at the end of the bed. I don't know if there's room. A bigger side table. Yeah. I always love to put a [00:32:00] water 

 Water People they're always thirsty in the middle of the night. Drapes, , I would go to Target, I would go to Pottery Barn. I would go Home Goods, if you can find two match ones. Hang from the, almost at the bottom of the ceiling. So that feels like super high.


 I would keep the bed. I think it's great. I would add, is that a duvet? Is there anything on it or? I mean it's a white bedspread basically. Got it. I would if go to Bed Bath or go to Home Goods or go to Target and get like a set that feels like good, they have beautiful looking linen ish, sets now and add some decorative pillows in there.

Maybe with a pattern and some color. I would maybe get a a side table. Like an end table. But I think this is a great room. Really I would do a bench at the end, a bigger side table, some drapes. And do you have a color that you would go with Tell me some colors in your home. Grays, blacks. 

Karen: Very traditional farmhouse. We have done it's a blue, but it's not a really bright blue. It's more of a grayish 

Debra: kind of a blue. What about a pattern?

Like a pattern drape could look really beautiful and I would [00:33:00] do layering of a throw and add another duvet. You can buy, like from Ikea or from HomeGoods, the duvet, the insert, because it makes it look like a showroom bed. When you like put two duvet inserts inside of a duvet cover, fold it over the top.

It brings, the bed will completely transform in looking fluffy and like you just wanna jump in it and then have a throw blanket on top of that. . That's 

Karen: smart. Tell me what you think of this idea I've seen people do two side tables and then I've seen 

Debra: them do mirrors above.

Love that. I would definitely center the bed in the middle of the wall. I didn't know if you had that space on both sides, but yes. And the headboard's great. And by the way, black side tables also would be beautiful.

there's, can't go wrong, but I would do two mirrors over the tables. Bigger lamps. Yeah. And then 

Karen: what do you think 

Debra: art wise? If you have two mirrors, I wouldn't do anything above the bed. It's kinda one or the other. But again, if you go to a vintage store and you find two different mirrors that are similar sizes, that's giving it some interest.

Robyn: I think that could 

Debra: be cool. Very. also, another idea I had, by the [00:34:00] way, is you can open up the armir.

and you can stage it and it'll take up a little more room on that wall and even write them like a little welcome note so glad you're here, whatever. But keep it open so they can see how beautiful it is in the inside as well, would be very cool. And it's also then a piece of art. I love that. That's a really good idea. 

Karen: Okay. So this is how I wanna tell everybody that this is where Deb is intuitive.

Okay. Oh. Cause my grandmother, she always left it like that. And I have little knickknacks that have been sitting in my storage that I have not put in that would be perfect there. So that was her little way of giving you that inspiration for you. Wow. 

Debra: I love that. I don't even know what the inside looks like. It could have been a wreck. It's crazy. No, you have to keep it open then. I love it. And Just think about, how you function when you're away. And putting little, like toothpaste, a toothbrush I don't know, I always forget those things.

So I always have extras on hand and if I have guests do you need any of these items?


Karen: I know a lot of people that I know are [00:35:00] utilizing that wallpaper that you can actually stick 

Debra: up on the wall.

Love it. You do that. Okay. Yeah. I'm obsessed with wallpaper, it's my favorite thing and I have been forever, not just cuz it's trendy and I think it literally brings life to a room. So it's not cheap, but the decals are amazingly cost effective and you just need a handyman. Or if you're handy you can do an accent wall, you can just do the ceiling, you could do the whole room.

And it is, some of them you can't even tell are decals. Love it. Yeah. 

Robyn: Yeah. You could just do that back wall. 

Debra: I love that. And if you said you like modern farmhouse kind of thing, a beautiful stripe with that armoire with the Asian texture and so beautiful.

, I'm obsessed with all things stripe and it works other patterns. Yeah. 

Karen: And it makes it elegant without it being 

Debra: over. Exactly. And if you want it elegant, you can go skinnier. And if you want it bolder, like there's so many different versions of it.


Karen: We need a virtual 

Robyn: Deborah. We do. 

Debra: I'll be over next week. I was gonna say, 

Karen: Please come down. You can stay in the room 

Debra: when you're done. That's fine. I'll stay in it. I'll [00:36:00] feel it and then I'll decorate it. 

Robyn: I was gonna ask if there is something you think everybody should have in their home? 

Like a go-to that you have in your own home and then when you're helping others, you always go to this one thing that, brings out the feeling, it doesn't matter the personality 

Debra: necessarily, it's just , you're gonna laugh.

I To me, and this might drive people crazy, but like it's music and it's scent , I always have music playing from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed and it changes all the time. It's all based on my mood, whether it's classical, jazz, hip hop, like hits, like whatever it is.

And if it's not on and we're at the dinner table, my kids are like, it's weird in here. I can't be in silence. even if I'm listening to a podcast or a book, I have to have something in the background. And then I'm really into this thing called, Pura, P u r A.

It's so cool. It plugs into your wall and you buy different oils that go into. , this little circle, it's a diffuser basically, but it plugs in and it dispenses [00:37:00] essential oils and you set it on your app when it releases scent, and it can be like lavenders and you pick you can plug it in all different rooms and that's what I have in my entry.

When you come in, it's like a very lavender, yummy, relaxing smell. That's, I want people to feel relaxed and chill in here. You 

Robyn: do 

Karen: see layer. I feel that the layer and sound and smell, 

Debra: lighting is also huge. Lighting.

Lighting, lamps and not bright. You want warm light. You don't want icy, bright, blinding, bad light. It's so important. 

 And candles, love candles. Robyn always has a candle in her bathroom. You want the experience to be hospitable.

 I've learned so much from hotels and I have always weirdly done intuitively certain things in my homes, and now I've evolved and do more. Again, not expensive, just thoughtful. 

Robyn: So true. Even when you're talking about the smells the and the sound.

 From the moment we get up in the morning, we have music playing and it's so weird. And it helps us get going, get like a certain zone and [00:38:00] a move. It 

Debra: Relaxes me. I don't know. 

Robyn: Me too feels essential to me. truly. 

Karen: Yeah. It's funny, you go back I remember and this is what the real estate agents used to do all the time. Which is put the cookies, oven, and put music on. And when you do it, , you know how good it feels. But if nobody tells you, 

Debra: you don't think you should do that for 

Robyn: yourself. And that's to your point of working in hotels and all of that for so long. You're right. you do it for a hotel, but yet we don't do it for our own homes. 

Debra: When I was in college, I would visit a friend and their mom would literally put chocolate on our pillows before we'd go to bed.

And I was like, who is this woman? And this is the best thing in the world. She's just like a cute mom that was like, I'm gonna put a chocolate on her friend's pillow. 

Robyn: That's so awesome. 

Karen: One last question I would like to know when you do this work and you're standing there with the person that you've done that work for, how does that make 

Debra: you feel?

I just think after the big reveal and even during the process, the joy of somebody, it makes them feel so [00:39:00] happy. and to watch the, oh my God.

It's so silly. It's almost like those shows , the design shows on tv, but people have a visceral reaction. They are so excited to live in that space or those spaces because it feels so good. So it just brings me total joy and I just feel lucky to, after all these years, even though I've been doing it literally my whole life, I've learned that you have to pull on what is easy for you.

You try so hard to come up with the right career and the right this and the right that. And this has always been easy for me, but I didn't think it was like important enough to do for a living, even though I've been doing it for a living my whole life. So now I'm just doing it It feels good, and it brings people joy, so it makes me 

Karen: happy. I love that. I think that's such an important message to give to people because we're all looking for our purpose and we're always feeling like it. It's always out of reach or it's always something I have to achieve or strive for or get perfect and what you're doing.

Everything that you've given us today is a reminder that it's not about [00:40:00] perfect. It's about how you're making people feel, and the gift that you give people isn't just for a moment. They're living in that day in and day out in that energy that you've been able to help them find. So that's a huge gift 

Robyn: It really is. Oh my God, Karen, I'm so glad you. ask that. And you pointed that out because it's true, Deb what Karen said. it's not for a moment. It can last decades. 

 You really are creating new energy. You bring that soul out in the home.

The home is energy. But then you get to bring that soul out of that home for that family and for all the people that are coming in to that space. And so whether that is a home or that is a public space, that's what you're doing. 

Debra: I hope, and when you walk in someone's door, you should know and feel what they are and what's important to them.

And it's a reflection of you. You think it's gonna cost a lot of money, cuz it's a designer and all the things it doesn't have to, it doesn't. I've 

Robyn: never used a designer I understand why some people need it, but it's more than [00:41:00] that.

 Think about. . Not only is it that soul of that home, but it's that energy that then inspires so much within the home, yeah. I feel like there's so much, it's there to comfort, it's there to celebrate. It's there, and that is tremendous. 

Debra: What about that 

Karen: woman of that her grandmother is with her 

Debra: in the Yes. she was couldn't even believe. And then she had all these beautiful pictures, old pictures of her as a kid and she bought this beautiful full length mirror, and I'm like, stick the pictures in there.

So you see all these people that you love, whether it's your children from when they're little or you growing up. How cool. So another great tip for 

Robyn: people who are listening right now, you can take a mirror and you can stick pictures on the sides. Is that what you're saying? Like in those little 

Debra: spots and she's getting dressed every day and that's what is most important to her.

And it's a modern version of old school. it looks beautiful. It's a brand new mirror and it's got this old beautiful photo collect. 

Karen: [00:42:00] We have to get 

Debra: some pictures of these and Yeah, for sure. 

Robyn: And Karen, when you get that guest room done, we'll have to do a reveal with Debra 

So tell us, how do people work with you? How can they find you? 

Debra: So you can go to debra baum So d e b r a B A U m D E S I G And then my website will be launching in a few weeks but there's a little contact me button and it'll just go directly to my email. And they'll be pictures and references and.

if you're looking for somebody to give your house some soul. I'm here. 

Robyn: She is. 

. Oh my goodness.

Thank you for sharing. Thank you guys. 

Debra: This is so fun. Really? Yeah. 

Robyn: I have a feeling people will have questions for you. I definitely think people are gonna be finding debrabaum 

Debra: Thank you for even wanting to chat with me. It's so amazing. It's been just talking to friends. So what's better than that? 

The Design Whisperer: Find the Soul of Your Home