Move over spring cleaning. If you’ve been tinkering with the idea of revamping your humble abode, now’s the time. We caught up with Debra Gildersleeve of Renee’s, a third-generation fashion and furnishings store in Mattituck that she owns with her husband William, who shared budget friendly ways to transform your home, new trends, simple seasonal updates and more.
How did your family get started in the industry?
DG: My parents first opened Renee’s in 1978 as a small boutique selling women’s clothing and accessories, and later expanded to include men’s and children’s clothing. When I took over the family business, we kind of fell into the furniture business by accident. We used different pieces to display jewelry and clothing, and customers began asking if they could buy the displays. The home furnishings department now makes up around 85 percent of our business.
What made you want to follow in their footsteps?
DG: I spent a lot of time in the store growing up. After high school, I went to Boston College and majored in English. I have always loved fashion, and I worked in several retail stores throughout college. After school, I secured a position as a buyer for Lord & Taylor in New York, specializing in women’s designer dresses. I loved my home on the North Fork, and moved back with my husband William to take over Renee’s.
For those unfamiliar with Renee’s, what can people expect when they visit?
DG: We have so much to offer in our store that there is literally something for everyone. Renee’s has a huge selection of clothing for men, women, and children for all occasions. We also have two furniture showrooms and an interior design center. Much of what we carry is not run of the mill; we have a great mix of beachy, industrial, and modern designs, many of which can be ordered in different colors, fabrics, and finishes.
What are some of the top interior design trends you’re noticing?
DG: A trend I have been noticing for a while now is that people are leaning away from more traditional furnishings, and going for a more casual, non-cluttered look. An eclectic yet tasteful mixture of industrial pieces like a rustic wood coffee table with metal accents pair beautifully with a neutral, beachy slipcover sofa. Blending different pieces that aren’t necessarily matchy-matchy but make sense together is a great and fun way to tell your own story. I think there is a lot more opportunity to customize your space with this trend, and make it a true reflection of your own style.
What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked on and why?
DG: Redesigning my own home is the most memorable project I have worked on so far because it’s so personal. I strive to create beautiful and functional spaces for my clients that are also very cozy. Getting to do this for myself and my family was a unique experience because my husband William and I got to be very selective and had free range over the design. We live with it every day, and it’s truly our family’s haven.
What are a few easy ways to update your home for fall?
DG: As the temperatures, the desire for that cozy and comfy atmosphere grows. Adding faux-fur and knit throws and a few extra pillows to your sofa help to create that warm space. Candles, of course, are another wonderful way to add a sense of coziness and glow. One thing to not overlook in the fall is preparing your outdoor furniture for cold weather storage. Always remove pillows and padding to store in a cool, dry place, and be sure to cover large pieces to keep them safe from the elements.
What are a few budget friendly ways to transform your home if you’re looking for a major change but don’t want to spend big bucks?
DG: Clearing the clutter is an amazing first step to transform your home. Utilize storage to create an open looking space, and add subtle accents such as candles or ceramic canisters, which can also serve as storage. Repainting walls or cabinets in kitchens offer a fresh take on a room as well. Because Renee’s has a great relationship with many of the different brands we carry, we are able to pass on our discounts to the customers. We also offer free interior design consultations, and work with you to create beautiful, functional spaces that meet your needs.
Besides Renee’s, what are some of your favorite local stores to source from?
DG: There are so many great stores on the North Fork! We partner with other local businesses to offer special window treatments, flooring, and lighting – such as Custom Window Treatments by Nora, Custom Lighting of Suffolk, and Seacoast Tile. We carry many of these items in our showrooms, but can work with these other wonderful businesses to create a customized look.
For those that can’t afford an interior designer and are intimated to start a makeover, could you please share a few tips?
DG: The most important thing to remember is that your living space is a reflection of your own personality. Choosing a neutral color like light shades of beige and gray as your backdrop are a great way to start, and allow you to easily incorporate pieces of different styles and finishes into the space without clashing. You can also find inspiration from us from spaces we have designed on our Houzz page at reneesmattituck.houzz.com.