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Lisa Shaffer is one half of Lisa & Leroy, a full-service interior design firm co-owned by her husband Daniel Benjamin — and named after one of her dogs! The self-taught powerhouse has a knack for color and loves working on a project from the initial blueprints, all the way to the very last flower in a vase.
How did Lisa & Leroy come to be?
I previously had a very corporate job. Then, about 20 years ago, my husband and I flipped our first house. Over the last 20 years, we continued to do that and he became a general contractor. I decided three and a half years ago that I was going to quit my fancy job and fancy paycheck and open my own design firm.
What type of services do you offer?
We help homeowners with the initial design phases and go all the way to putting the last flower in the vase. We sell furniture as well, including our own line. Clients can come and see fabric samples, rugs, look at kitchen cabinets, basically everything that goes into your house we sell.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
A mix of found and curated elements is really important to me. People will say “I have this antique butcher block I want to use in the my kitchen,” and that’s heaven to me, because it has a story. I like to use antiques in my design if I can and I absolutely love color. I do it in pops, so it’s not flooding the room.
What sets Lisa & Leroy apart from other designer firms?
I’d say my background in construction. I’ve done a lot by myself, like putting my own roof on and putting my windows in. My husband is a contractor, and I’ve been in construction in one way shape or form for 20 years or so. Because I know a lot about building I can help clients with a lot of pitfalls they need to think about.
What is a typical day in the studio for you?
A typical day never looks the same. We’ve got client consults, we’ll stop by job sites to make sure our specifications are right. We sit in an open workspace and we’ll collaborate on designs or talk through sourcing of products. We’ve got my two big hounds in the studio at all times, so a typical day could also be a dog in your face.
What are your favorite type of projects to work on?
Those where there’s a construction element. I love to do bathrooms, and working with new materials takes me out of my comfort zone. The perfect project is one where it’s a whole overhaul: You get to touch everything in someone’s home so you can feel the cohesion.
Where do you find your furniture and decorating pieces?
I love to use local when I can. All of our plants come form Ginkgo Gardens. Any time we can use a local maker or business we love doing that. It’s important for us. We want to be part of community and work with people who also have small businesses.
What do you like about being located in Southeast DC?
My husband and I have been in this area for 18 years. We love it because it feels like a small town. People look out for each other, and there’s a like-mindedness and camaraderie that I haven’t personally felt in other neighborhoods.
How did you find your current workspace?
We were looking to expand, and somebody in the community said, “Hey there’s a really great space that’s a compete shell — no plumbing, no heat,” so we contacted the landlord. It would have been frightening for probably anybody but me.
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