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Conscious Coupling

With a vast pool of top-notch design professionals at her beck and call, Donna Paul is the matchmaker to call on for homeowners seeking serious aesthetic love.

Donna Paul, who recently expanded her Designer Previews services to South Florida, specializes in connecting homeowners with the right design professionals.

Perhaps the best description for Donna Paul is that she is a walking, talking design casamentero who makes house calls. Paul’s company, Designer Previews, helps clients in New York, Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Boston and, as of this winter, Miami find an architect or designer to redo a room, gut renovate a new condo or, say, design a pool house. Her services are especially useful in Miami, which she calls “a suburb of New York,” because so many buyers here are from outside the country, and the luxury market is so well-established (Coldwell Banker’s last survey of luxury residences places Miami second to New York in $1 million-plus sales, with Miami Beach third).

“Someone says, ‘Use my decorator,’ but with a decorator it’s so personal, almost like a marriage,” says Heather Alpert, a New York client who also has a home in Palm Beach. “You’re together a long time, and you have to make a lot of decisions. So you need to like their aesthetic, and you need to like them. Donna makes it easy.”

Paul’s experience as a former photographer, journalist and stylist for top national design magazines allowed her to cultivate a pool of national and international talents. In Miami, she represents, among many others, Carlos Prio-Touzet and Jacqueline Gonzalez Touzet of Studio Touzet, Luis Pons and Amy Lau, all prominent names in contemporary design. She also reps more classic styles. Equipped with an iPad loaded with images, she helps clients narrow things down. “I let them have the iPad,” she says. “They’re in control.” She is on the spot to help define a budget, explain how a designer bills and help them articulate what they want. She then provides three or four designers’ portfolios and sets up one-on-one interviews. Paul charges $250 for the consultation and gets an additional fee from the designers for what can involve months of work.

“There are almost too many choices,” she says. “These people need and expect service. And that’s what I provide: a supercustomized service and a lot of hand-holding.” 212.777.2966