Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
Interior designer Debbie Batia doesn’t have a particular aesthetic she’s known for.
Despite her expertise, the owner of Biloxi-based D. Batia Interiors isn’t one to impose her will or ideas on clients. Instead, from the start of the relationship, she focuses on putting them at ease and listening to their goals and preferences.
“I really have no trademarks other than quality furnishings and interiors with great bones and beautiful products,” she says. “Every project I take on is styled to be unique to that client and what they are hoping to achieve.”
BUILDING A REPUTATION
Batia learned this customer-focused approach from her parents, who were both interior designers and assumed ownership of Merchiston Hall Galleries in Biloxi in 1957.
“I always was in the store growing up and after school every day until daddy or mother took us home,” she recalls. “When you are exposed to all the great interior designers that worked in the store back then (we had 8-9 professional designers at that time), and you have all of these wonderful experiences going along with your father on design appointments with clients or corporate job appointments, you really learn a lot — as well as develop a love for what he did.”
Batia began working in the store in 1977 after her father died suddenly at age 46, and she has been in the business ever since. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original store, her mother retired, and Batia brought the business to Pass Road, where it remained for more than 11 years. In May of 2017, she relocated to Howard Avenue in the heart of downtown Biloxi — a block from where the original store building had been.
Today, D. Batia has clients from all walks of life throughout the country.
“We have decorated dorm rooms, apartments, and 25-square-foot homes and corporate offices,” she says. “We can do it all.”
Batia’s reputation was a main reason Dawn and Mike Goodwin hired her to redecorate and renovate their home on Schmidt Drive in Ocean Springs. The scope of the work grew over time, Dawn Goodwin says, because the couple added a bathroom and overhauled the home’s exterior.
“Debbie was right there with us through this project,” Goodwin adds. “She was very quick to respond to our requests for help. Debbie always provides answers, information and updates in a timely manner.”
Batia employed her design flair inside and outside the couple’s home, according to Goodwin, and advised which pieces of furniture were worth reupholstering and which they might consider replacing. They curved sofa she suggested for their living room turned out to be perfect for the space, and an antique mirror she chose inspired them to make over their wet bar.
“Debbie has an innate ability for determining our tastes, likes and dislikes,” Goodwin says. “It was exciting to see what options she would come up with.”
“We are a small, family-owned business that has made it through all the roughest periods of time here on the Gulf Coast. We are resilient, determined and happy to still be in business in downtown Biloxi.”
STILL GOING STRONG
To walk into D. Batia Interiors is to be surrounded by infinite possibilities. Flooring, fabric and wallcovering samples abound throughout the store to help interior design clients develop their vision. Customers also can stop in to shop for furnishings, décor, accessories and gifts.
“We carry every major line of furnishings, rugs, accessories, lighting, wallcovering and everything else associated with home or office,” she says. We carry a very wide range of outdoor furnishings and accessories as well.”
As an established business that has operated for decades, D. Batia Interiors carries lines that usually are only found in larger metropolitan areas and not available anywhere else locally, Batia says. The world of interiors and home furnishings is ever-changing, so the business’s stock is refreshed constantly to keep up.
“We have major home furnishings markets several times a year that we try to attend, and we are constantly receiving new fabrics samples from our companies, as well as new catalogues and updates to our window treatments library, new wood finishes and many other updates that we use every single day in this business,” she says.
D. Batia’s team includes a design assistant, a custom window designer and fabricator and an accounting office manager/marketing director, as well as a delivery department and window treatment installation specialist. While the pandemic affected walk-in traffic at her store, Batia says the business has been busier than ever over the last two years as people have taken advantage of low-interest mortgage loans and readily available Small Business Administration loans that enabled them to renovate or buy properties.
Despite the many changes and challenges caused by COVID, she adds, one thing that stayed constant was people dreaming of what their home or office could look like — and needing help to make those visions a reality.
“We are a small, family-owned business that has made it through all the roughest periods of time here on the Gulf Coast,” Batia says. “We are resilient, determined and happy to still be in business in downtown Biloxi.”