The decor that I’m willing to pay for is limited to what I accidentally knock over and break (and even then, I might not replace it). But my grandmother, a much more graceful woman than I, kept a stunning home: lively, bright colors and bold prints in her custard-yellow kitchen; light blues and silver bowls in the dining room to accent the palette of a ten-foot-long Japanese tapestry hanging behind her mahogany dinner table; a centuries-old mandolin, violin and viola, passed down from generation to generation, mounted together over her baby grand in the living room. Her house was fantastic, and arranged in such a way that there was a sense of welcome and rightful place for any guest who came through her deep green double doors. And she was always entertaining.
But my grandmother lived in a suburb of San Francisco; unlike residents of Saratoga Springs, homeowners in the East Bay aren’t necessarily faced with the task of balancing their personal decor with architecture that dates back to the Victorian Age.
Luckily for Saratogians, that’s where Leah Margolis comes in. Margolis is a Skidmore-educated interior designer with more than a decade of experience in the field. Her specialty? Designing contemporary interiors to complement Saratoga’s timeless exteriors. “I like boldness, I love color, I like a clean, contemporary style,” Margolis says, excitedly. “We all need to have a little fun in our lives, you know?”
Margolis’ light but distinct aesthetic touch and her unmistakable sense of youthful, sophisticated glamour has caught the eye of major “shelter” magazines—House Beautiful, O At Home, House & Garden—and her work, locally, has earned her The Saratogian’s “Readers’ Choice Award for Best Décor” honor four years in a row.
“I like being able to introduce new styles to the area,” she says. “I like to push limits and boundaries; to add a little piece of whimsy to a room, a little unexpected element such as a bold print or an interesting piece of furniture that you wouldn’t think would be there.”
For all her personal style points, Margolis is ultimately dedicated to bringing her clients’ own design aesthetic to life. “Honestly, I think it would be quite boring for me if everyone just gravitated towards what I like to do. I like to be the one that shows people what’s available, and then they can decide if they want to use it. They have to love it because it’s their home.”
Originally, I assumed that the majority of Margolis’ clients—particularly the longtime Saratoga residents—used her services to preserve the classic feel of their homes’ interiors. But it turns out that her more distinguished clients tend to be her most adventurous: “As they get older, people want to get rid of their old stuff and start fresh. They appreciate more contemporary, clean lines, fun bold prints; and they’re not as scared of taking risks.”
That said, Margolis believes Saratoga Springs will always have that certain Norman Rockwell charm. “I don’t think classic will ever totally be out, especially when it comes to traditional homes and everything traditionally Saratoga. But I do think that there are a lot of people moving up here from metropolitan areas, and with that comes what’s on trend.”
I think my grandmother would have liked Leah Margolis. I really do.