WHEN PEEKING INTO A HOME THAT’S IN THE PROCESS of being designed by Deborah Wecselman, it’s not unusual to find the designer herself up on a ladder, checking measurements. Or swapping out paint samples, to see how they appear at different times of the day. Or inspecting the seam of a pillow, to make sure it is up to her exacting standards.

That eye for detail and those perfectionist tendencies are part of what make Wecselman and her firm, WECSELMAN DESIGN., so successful.

Founded in 2000, WECSELMAN DESIGN has deliberately remained small in order for Deborah and her team to fully commit their energy and attention to each individual project. “I believe in the final product, and I do not like to veer from it,” says Deborah. “It’s wise to integrate all elements in a space beforehand, but also to never let budget dictate creativity.”

After completing her BFA in environmental design from Parson’s School of Design in New York, Deborah—who was born in Lima, Peru—began her career as a design associate in Ralph Lauren’s store development department. She quickly moved through the renowned fashion brand’s ranks, becoming a senior director of international store design and creating more than 5,000 shops around the globe.

Working with many of the world’s finest designers no doubt informed her own eclectic sense of style, but when partnering with clients Deborah instantly gets in sync with them and uses their requests and preferences as her starting point.

A well-designed space is, after all, the creation of a lifestyle, one that reflects people’s everyday needs and heartfelt passions. Deborah never forgets that the choices she makes for each room are ones that her clients will be interacting with daily for years to come. With that in mind, WECSELMAN DESIGN’s specialty is producing spaces that are classically modern, but with hints of the past that complement contemporary living. And it’s vital, Deborah has found, to begin with a good base.

“It’s ideal to start with a good architectural envelope,” she says, “meaning the floors, walls, and ceilings. From there you can begin to introduce the soft goods: furniture, accessories, and artwork.”

It’s also important to remember that designing any space is a process, one that will almost surely come with surprises and depends heavily on the people who work on it. As a seasoned designer, Deborah knows with whom to work and how to anticipate any twists, and can soothe her clients when such twists arise.

“Though good design never happens without inspiration and imagination, great design celebrates reality as well.

You need to have realistic expectations about budgeting,” she cautions, “as well as understand the timing of all the elements necessary to create a design.” When she’s not wrangling all those elements—and checking on their quality herself—Deborah seeks out inspiration of her own through travel, going antiquing, watching movies, and adding to her impressive magazine collection. “I am obsessed,” she admits.