Debra Gildersleeve is the designer and owner of Renee’s, an interior design, furniture and clothing store that opened its doors in Mattituck 40 years ago. Through its comprehensive design services, Gilderlseeve’s reach spans across the East End into western Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and even Florida. With a company motto of “everything is beautiful for you and your home,” Renee’s paints a lifestyle picture.
How did you merge fashion and furnishing?
When my parents first opened Renee’s in 1978, it was a small boutique offering women’s clothing and accessories. When my husband William and I took over the store, we sort of fell into the furniture business by accident. We were using different pieces to displays jewelry and clothing, and people began asking if they could buy the display. We expanded the store over time to include furniture and accessories, and now have two showrooms and a design center.
Do you have a background in design?
My background is in fashion and I was a buyer for Lord & Taylor, specializing in women’s dresses, after college. The concept for fashion design and interior design is the same to me. You have to take into consideration balance, color, and personal style. Every job is a problem solver — the goal is to make a room not only beautiful and functional, but to meet the client’s design needs as well.
What is it about the North Fork specifically that captivates you?
For me, the North Fork is just such a peaceful place. It offers a cool, casual lifestyle that is unlike any other. The lifestyle out here is very relaxed but sophisticated, and who wouldn’t love living on the beach? We love the local community and everything it has to offer, and we’re incredibly lucky to have so much of our own family around. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
How would you best describe your interior design style?
My interior design style is a modern beach aesthetic with clean lines. I like to create spaces that are warm and inviting, yet also functional. I mix and match materials often, like metal and wood accents paired with a cozy sectional, a farmhouse style table with elegant lighting, and tasteful coastal décor reflective of the East End lifestyle. As an interior designer however, it is most important to listen and learn what the client is looking for and bring those visions to life.
Your color palette seems to be white/off whites. Why?
This color palette serves as an excellent base for interior design. It allows for the opportunity to add color in accessories such as rugs, pillows, and artwork, and creates an open and airy feel. People are leaning away from traditional décor and opting for clean, modern spaces. This color palette serves that trend well.
What are some of your favorite brands to work with?
There are almost too many to list. The brands we carry are not run of the mill, and we’re fortunate that many offer their products in multiple materials and colors. Some of my favorites are Bramble, Bernheart, Rowe, Robin Bruce, Four Hands, Loloi, Classic Home, Uttermost, Crystorama, Mercana, Regina Andrew, and Craftmaster. There are countless others we carry in our showrooms. We carry everything from furniture and accessories to rugs and lighting, and everything in-between. The possibilities are endless.
Do you have a signature touch?
One thing I love that I want all of my clients to enjoy in their homes is a cozy space where you can truly unwind. Something I always like to add are cozy elements like faux fur throws and soft pillows. It may seem like a small touch, but at the end of the day, it is something that ties a room together and create a relaxing place we can all look forward to spending time in.
What about a home inspires you?
I would say this goes back to the local community and the landscape of our home. On the East End, we have access to things many others don’t, like the numerous beaches, rolling farms, and vineyards.
What would be your ideal spring living room?
First, I would take into consideration the layout of the space and create a neutral background. For spring, open and airy will shift well into the summer months. A slipcover sectional in linen or chenille paired with different throw pillows in coastal shades of blue and green are representative of spring and the North Fork. A faux fur throw is beautiful for every season.
Lighting is also a crucial element, and I love an elegant chandelier over a driftwood table with ceramic canisters and floral-scented candles. I would pair this with other lighting as well on different levels. A rug can really tie the space together. Something super soft, or an oriental style rug in shades of blue, would be beautiful in this space. It should be a place you will want to relax in with the windows open.
For more information, visit www.reneesmattituck.com, call 631-298-4223, or follow @reneesmattituck.