Member Spotlight

    Member: Donna Hoffman of Interiors by Donna Hoffman


    When did you realize that you wanted to become an interior designer?

    From the time I was a small child, I began pushing things around in my parents’ home. Basically, it was accessories because that was all I could move, but sometimes I’d hear a stern voice say “Donna! I liked that where it was please.” (ooops….my first unhappy client!).

    But it wasn’t until a few decades later and while on a different career path that my husband Steve looked at something I’d designed and said, “For the millionth time: You should be designing for a living.” He HAD said it million times; but on that one day, it was as if I’d heard it for the first time. SO I took off at 98 mph to back to school to study design (Temple & Parsons), closed down another business and opened IDH. We’ve been busy ever since and are now in our 12th year.


    Who was the first interior designer to make an impression on you?

    Actually, we lived across the street from an antiques dealer and I loved walking past her home and smelling the turpentine and stains. She also designed my childhood bedroom; fabric covered walls, a canopy bed…it was divine. Mrs. Luber also designed our kitchen and a few spaces for some of my aunts. As this was happening, my mother began taking me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art starting when I was about 9. I could not get enough of the furniture wing. I became the only 10-year-old watching The Brady Bunch who didn’t want a bedroom decorated like Marsha Brady: I was all about Louis XV with a side order of 19th century England.

    Some of the designers I love today are Jamie Drake of Drake Anderson (LOVE!). I also admire Mary MacDonald, Juan Montoya, Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Albert Hadley and Sister Parish were pretty phenomenal as well.


    What are some of the things that influence you, aside from furniture and décor?

    My mother instilled in me a love of art museums, so art and travel are big for me. Gardens are big for me too; like art there’s a lot to be taken from them in color and texture. I’m also a furniture and fashion nerd, so I do enjoy browsing vintage shops even in my off time, or reading their history.


    What are your go-to basics?

    I love a good custom rug; I love very well made and well-proportioned drapery panels – no matter how simple the fabric, it’s all about proportion. (And if budget allows, I do like to add sleek dress-maker flourishes – tapes, banding, pleating, etc.). I also LOVE accent chairs. They are like little pieces of art to me that can really add panache to a room; ditto on light fixtures.  


    Are you seeing any particular style requests trending amongst your clients?

    Alas….here in the historic seat of Philadelphia where we are based, our luxury suburban clients are not asking for a lot of modern or a high-bling factor. Our clients tend to rest solidly in transitional design that will either lean a little more modern, or a little more traditional. I’d love a bling couple to stop in, or a modern couple…but that is not what we’re seeing. We are seeing an ever-growing openness to wallpaper, but to be honest, that took a while to see.

    What’s been your career highlight to date? Hmmm, there have been a few highlights: Winning 11 awards in our first 11 years to include not only IDS Design awards (thank you IDS!), but from ASID as well. Getting published is always a thrill too.

    We are also currently working on a stunning 45 room estate design-build with the area’s leading luxury builder. Due to its scale and the amazing players involved, it has been a deeply fulfilling and worthwhile endeavor, creatively and personally.

    And we also have an online brand that’s totally separate from our luxury design division where we empower women who choose to design their own homes. We’re empowering women across the US, and now a bit into Canada, England and Australia - with the online courses and community we’ve built. (it’s called The Interior Design Advocate). It has been a massive initiative but connecting with these wonderful women and design enthusiasts who are not professionals, and who do not plan to hire a professional - but who adore design just the same - is amazing. Seeing that brand “tip” - has been quite something.


    What’s the most treasured item in your own home?

    OK, so this is a “thing” answer you want: not a people answer like the greatest best friend and husband a girl could ask for, or 2 of the greatest kids that are daily blessings in our lives, right? You want a thing-answer? Then in that case I’d have to say the most treasured item in our home for me would be a tossup between the garden Steve gifted me with years ago - or - the art collection Steve and I have been creating through the years. I find the energy and daily-feel-good-factor provided by original art is extraordinary. It doesn’t have to be costly art – but originally made by an artist. THAT beauty is powerful. It affects and lifts you when you look at it or walk past it. It’s probably the same feeling I got as an 9 year old when I saw my first Degas or VanGogh at the Met or that first massive sculpture from ancient Rome.