Builder of Dreams: Vanessa Deleon’s Wide World of Luxury Design
Forty-story New York City apartment buildings, exquisite villas in St. Maarten and luxurious residential homes in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, have kept Vanessa Deleon—famed interior designer and recent contestant on NBC’s American Dream Builders—busy taking on anything and everything in the high-end residential and commercial hospitality arena and applying her trademark 1920-meets-2020 flair.
Whether she’s adding that distinctive Deleon touch to a restaurant, building lobby, or even her own Hudson River duplex in Edgewater, her spaces evoke a sense of happiness and leave her clients feeling her design services were worth every penny. Besides collaborating with other strong-willed designers on American Dream Builders, Deleon is also designing her NYC June wedding, all while chasing her “work smarter, not harder” New Year’s resolution. For a powerful force like Deleon, that means taking on the design world on her terms. Look out!
What influences and motivates you?
Obviously, design is function and form, but as far as aesthetic is concerned, I love to travel the world and see and experience other places: restaurants, hotels, even the way people live. I’m influenced by my travels and incorporate that into my everyday designs.
Where have you traveled recently?
I recently came back from Amsterdam and St. Maarten. We are actually working on a villa in St. Maarten, and the villas there are interesting because you have to sort of work with your surroundings. Our floor plans are different than a home I would do in Alpine or Franklin Lakes. Working with a plan that’s true indoor/outdoor—I know a lot of people say they have a home that’s indoor/outdoor, but they just have a bank of windows. In these villas, it’s true indoor/outdoor living: The dining room is in a courtyard outside, overlooking the beach. In Amsterdam, the homes have an old French Parisian style but at the same time are minimal. It’s black and white. It’s fun to see. It’s like eye candy for me.
What does your home look like?
My style is very all over the place. I personally like a mix of classic-meets- modern-meets-traditional, French meets very modern and minimal. It sounds confusing, but it sort of works. I typically like a sense of clean and hotel lofty living, and that’s sort of how I live. I have a duplex in Edgewater, and it’s all glass rails and a floating staircase. I have oversized slate tiles throughout. I play a lot with wallpaper; I love wallpaper. And then my pride and joy is my closet. I have a full bedroom that I converted into a walk-in closet, which is very funky: It’s black, with wallpaper on the ceiling.
What’s it like working with other designers on American Dream Builders?
Because we are all type A personalities and all seasoned in our careers, this is not like designers trying to make it, like a Top Chef show. Everyone here has already made it, so what makes it most challenging and difficult is that we have to compete with egos. Everyone believes their design is best, because it’s what they do every day.
Your wedding is coming up. How did you incorporate your design aesthetic?
The wedding is all my design vision. It’s all black and white; I like to keep it timeless. Everything is a roman-numeral theme. We’re getting married at Cipriani on 42nd street. Across the street is Grand Central Station, and you’ll notice the clock on top has roman numerals. My fiancé’s initial is X, and mine is V. My favorite number is 15, so X and V is fifteen, and we’re getting married June 15. The gifts include a bottle of Greek wine, and cigar rollers because I’m Cuban.
What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury means the finer things in life, having everything you can dream of and attaining comfort and beauty.
-And for Vanessa Deleon, it starts and ends with a well-designed space.
- Check out these images of Vaness Deleon’s home in Edgewater below and visit her website for a look at her design portfolio.