9 Questions with Debbie Gildersleeve of RENEE’S

Nestled into Mattituck on the North Fork, RENEE’S is a must-visit for home décor. Whether you need to completely makeover a room or simply need the perfect vase to add a pop of color, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for in the store’s selection of beachy, modern and industrial décor items. Owner Debbie Gildersleeve is the buyer behind those styles and also works with clients to create the space of their dreams. With the busy entertaining season drawing near Pulse chatted with Gildersleeve about the hot trends in home furnishings, getting your home ready for guests and the one item everyone should have in their home.

Long Island Pulse: Tell us a bit about your background. 
Debbie Gildersleeve: RENEE’S was established by my parents in 1978. It began as a small boutique selling women’s clothing. I worked in the store throughout high school, and then left to study English at Boston College. After graduation, I worked as a buyer at Lord & Taylor specializing in women’s designer dresses. Later, my husband Bill and I came back to the North Fork to takeover the family business. We kind of fell into the furniture business by accident—we used different pieces of furniture to display jewelry and clothing, and customers began asking if they could buy the displays. Soon we expanded the store to include home furnishings and accessories. Inspired by the layout of RENEE’S, clients began asking me to design their living spaces, jobs ranging from one room to whole homes. It took on a life of it’s own, and has been a great ride ever since!

Pulse: Tell me about RENEE’S furniture and fabrics? Can you highlight a few pieces?
Gildersleeve: Much of what we carry is not run of the mill. We have a mixture of beachy, modern, and industrial designs, and I like to mix many of the different genres to create unique looks. Linen, leather, suede and canvas are the popular fabrics, and a lot of what you see in our showroom is available in different fabrics and finishes, so we’re able to meet clients’ different needs and bring their design visions to life.

Pulse: What’s the hottest trend in home furnishings right now? What are you loving?
Gildersleeve: Clean, sophisticated lines in home furnishings are a hot trend these days and I’m loving it! People are veering away from traditional, formal furnishings, and leaning more towards a casual, non-cluttered look.

I like choosing an interesting mix of pieces that aren’t matchy-matchy, but make sense together. Like rustic-looking wood with metal or leather accents in the form of coffee and side tables in living rooms, and using a blend of linen accents and mirrored dressers in bedrooms. I’m not afraid of mixing a crystal chandelier with a rustic farm table. My main goal is to create functional and inviting environments that are also very beautiful.

Pulse: How can Pulse readers capitalize on those trends?
Gildersleeve: Start with a neutral base. Walls painted in shades of beige or gray allow you to recreate spaces easily, especially if you like to do seasonal updates. The mixed materials can be easily incorporated into different spaces with this neutral sort of backdrop. The possibilities really are endless. Many of my clients tend to get bored and like to change pillows, area rugs and some accessories after a few years. If you keep your sofas and your walls fairly neutral, you can add pops of color in the form of pillows or a piece of artwork.

Pulse: What’s one item everyone should have in their home and how do you go about selecting the right one?
Gildersleeve: Lighting is one of the most crucial aspects in every room of every home, and is often overlooked. You can mix different types of lighting such as lamps, chandeliers, high hats, and more to create varying degrees of warmth and glow. You have to make the selection based upon the needs of your room and your personal style. A chandelier in a low-ceilinged room would only work above something else such as a dining room table for example. Pairing different types of lighting allows for a range of depth and versatility for how much light you may want in a space at any given time. It’s an amazing tool one can use to create any mood one wishes to enjoy in their home.

Pulse: What was the last purchase you made for your home?
Gildersleeve: We recently renovated our home, so there have been a lot of purchases recently! My favorite however is my cozy sectional that I ordered in the softest chenille available. It is one of our best sellers in the store. The sectional is deep and plush, and the fabrics are yummy. After a long day of work I sit on that and wrap myself in a faux fur throw to relax. With a glass of wine in my hand, I’m a happy girl!

Pulse: Do you have any RENEE’S exclusives? Any special events planned?
Gildersleeve: We are currently renovating part of the store to include a design center where our clients can learn about all of the different products and services available, and chat with our design staff about what they envision for their homes. We’re very excited for this new space in our showroom! We are also planning an in-store event once the renovation is complete for realtors to come and learn about our store and interior design services for their own clients as well.

Pulse: How do you get your home ready for the busy summer entertaining season?
Gildersleeve: Last summer we started getting into outdoor furniture, which is key for summer entertaining on Long Island. You and your guests will be spending more time outdoors, especially if you live on the water. Creating a friendly and inviting space with outdoor furnishings and décor is the perfect way to prepare for summer entertaining, and something you will generally set up once a season.

Pulse: What’s one thing homeowners should pay more attention to when selecting home furnishing?
Gildersleeve: You want your space to be functional. Whether it is your living room, dining room, kitchen, etc., it serves a purpose. You can create a functional living space that also is comfortable and representative of your own personal style. It can be comfortable and beautiful all at the same time. It’s one thing I love about working with clients; finding out how they want a room to work and make it a reflection of themselves.

Visit RENEE’S located in Mattituck on the beautiful North Fork and let their interior designers help you select the perfect items to create a space that you can’t wait to come home to everyday.