Home & Style

Designer Spotlight: Debbie Wiener

Mess, spills, dirt, and stains. All words that make most homeowners and interior designers cringe. But not Debbie Wiener.

In her debut book, Slob Proof, Wiener—owner of interior design firm Designing Solutions in Silver Spring—offers durable design solutions with a side of style. Juice spills, muddy shoes, and dog hair are not taboo topics for Wiener. “Real-life design isn’t art, it’s smart,” she says. “We’re all too busy for it not to be convenient.”

Wiener hasn’t always had such an enlightened approach. When she was growing up, her mother kept their house immaculate just in case, she says, that “make-believe magazine editor” stopped by to photograph their home. And when Wiener started her first design company, she followed in her mother’s spotless footsteps.

“The two words I didn’t use were ‘comfort’ and ‘convenience,’” Wiener says. Living with her husband, Jim—whom Wiener affectionately describes as a Homer-Simpson-like slob—was a shock to her pristine standards. “It was stressful to live in a house that is designed for the outside world. I couldn’t stand coming home, seeing the mess, having a conniption, fighting with my family, and then cleaning it up.”

Taking time off to have her two children led Wiener to a style revelation. She changed the name of her company from Deborah J. Wiener Design to Designing Solutions and has preached a design philosophy around comfort and convenience ever since.

“People can’t live comfortably in a show house; neither can they live comfortably in a white room,” says Wiener. Slob Proof, which hits bookstores Tuesday, October 7, offers durable (and stylish) flooring, furniture, lighting, and window options for readers who want to make their homes mess-impervious.

“First you have to change your mind set,” says Wiener, “then you have to slowly change your furniture. Invest in pieces that will hold up over time.”

Here are three slob-proof design tips from Debbie:

1. “Put your money into things you sit and stand on, and spend less on everything else. The things you sit and stand on have to be top quality so they last a long time.”

2. “Good lighting makes even modest rooms look great, while bad lighting can make even great rooms look modest.”

3. Buy furniture that will camouflage your stains. “Look at the spots on the beige sofa. If they’re red, get furniture with a lot of red. If they’re blue…”