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Interior Design: How two local pros transform clients’ dreams into reality

DuBois Interiors

With gay marriage rates at an all-time high, many LGBT couples are looking to take the next big step: designing their dream home. This month, we spoke with two of the leading visionaries in the field of interior design. Integrating a passion for decor with their extensive experience in the field, Mary DuBois of Lewes, DE and Ernesto Santalla of Washington, D.C., offer clients the expertise, trust, and keen eye necessary to create their dream home from the inside out.

Mary DuBois

Mary DuBois of DuBois Interiors

DuBois Interiors
Armed with her poise, professionalism, and passion for design, Mary DuBois is most certainly proving that when it comes to design, it isn’t just a man’s world. From the time she was 14, DuBois knew that she wanted to be an interior designer.

“When I was about 13 years old, I went to a friend’s house from the country club, and I noticed that everything matched. The custom drapes matched the custom pillows and the custom rug,” remarks DuBois. “I stood in awe, wondering to myself, ‘OMG, this can really happen?’ It was amazing and beautiful.”

From that moment forward, DuBois stood in the middle of rooms and redesigned them in her head. Taking her blossoming passion for design to the next level, she attended the International Fine Arts College in Miami, FL, and completed a bachelor’s degree in interior design in just three years. She now owns her own design studio, DuBois Interiors, based in Lewes, DE.

Each of DuBois’ designs can be described as classic modern, with a hint of avant-garde.

“I might have this amazing design and throw something really odd in there. I’ll create a sleek contemporary design, then throw in this console that looks like it’s been on the bottom of the ocean,” she notes.

DuBois InteriorsDuBois spends a vast amount of time with her clients, to learn their tastes, likes, and personalities. For her, the client is the most important factor of the design process.

“When I create a design, I design around the client’s personality and lifestyle,” she explains. Many of her former clients have become close friends because of her meticulous focus on clients’ needs.

“My whole philosophy in design is basically listen to the client, understand them, guide them, and then wow them to the point of tears,” she explains. One of her favorite projects includes a lake house that she designed in New York.

“It was an immaculate transformation,” says DuBois. “We came in, ripped everything out, and spent weeks at a time up there.”

She admits that in the beginning, her client was nervous. For DuBois, the best part was the client’s response when the project ended. “By the time we were done, we could see the sigh of relief on his face.” And, this client thanked her repeatedly, complimented her on the outcome, and agreed that “every detail makes sense.”

The design field isn’t always as glamorous as it’s depicted on Home & Garden Television, better known as HGTV. From discontinued fabrics to warehousing issues, professionals like DuBois spend a lot of time managing budgetary and other constraints that come with the territory.

“Half the time we are running around like maniacs,” she admits. “Yet, in the end, it somehow all comes together.”