Express Yourself

Natalie Weinstein, president of St. James, Long Island-based Natalie Weinstein Design Associates, is more than an interior designer. She’s a lecturer, author, educator, columnist and radio talk show host. But even more than all that, she sees herself as a friend to her many clients, always guiding, supporting, encouraging and nurturing them on their journey for a better life through good design. With her belief that personal space is an extension of oneself, Weinstein’s personal mission is to develop each of her client’s growth and fulfillment via design. She’s been designing both residential and commercial interiors since 1973 and has no plans of slowing down.

Long Island Pulse: You’ve been an interior designer for 30+ years. How did you get started?
Natalie Weinstein:
Actually, my earliest memories are from my childhood, helping my young aunt select furniture for her first apartment. After being a public school teacher for many years, my husband, a builder, asked me to decorate his models and reminded me I had been decorating for friends and family my whole life. I had always been told I have “an eye for design,” so I decided to pursue formal training…became a professional designer, as well as master teacher and executive director.

LIP: What is your design philosophy?
It’s not just my philosophy, but my life and my mission: To help other people understand the value of home. It empowers you or diminishes you. It’s up to you to decide which one. This does not have to do with money or how big or small your home is. It’s about how your home makes you feel.

LIP: Is this why you developed the Home Decorating Club?
Yes, I’m still committed to education, but this time about good design as it relates to lifestyle improvement. We should all be on a learning journey to a beautiful home. When folks know the whats, whys and hows of design, it helps them to have the confidence to do more on their own as well as appreciate what they already have. They’re more invested in the process and results. We have more than 15,000 members, have seminars monthly, and just celebrated our 10th anniversary.

LIP: Is there one thing you incorporate into every design? A signature style?
People call my decorating style “classic,” whether traditional or contemporary, meaning you can’t tell what year it was designed. I am also known for starting from the floor up, using patterned area rugs and carpets to build the color scheme. But the one element I always want to include for myself and my clients is fun. I want us to have the fun of discovery and envisioning.

LIP: In a challenging economy, are more people bargain shopping?
The first question should be “what’s a bargain”? Something cheap isn’t always a bargain. To me, a bargain is an item that costs more which you buy for less but looks like a million dollars. Isn’t it fun to tell everyone how you picked up an item on sale that looks fabulous?

LIP: What about trends?
I think people are looking for timeless classics. It’s too expensive to redecorate and while the future is so tenuous, the past holds a certain security. People are nervous about the economy. When you look at something that has intrinsic value, it helps you feel as if we’re going to be around to enjoy it and our lives in the future.

Design Tip: There’s elegance and comfort in seeing a beautiful porcelain vase, a crystal chandelier or timeless piece of furniture from another era mixed with contemporary styles of today. Don’t be afraid to express yourself in your home because it is truly an extension of you.