Designer Profile: Debbie Gildersleeve of Renee’s in Mattituck

Designs from Renee’s in Mattituck
Designs from Renee’s in Mattituck

“East End home design often reflects the lifestyle out here. We’re fortunate enough to have beautiful beaches in our backyards, access to a number of vineyards, and local, family-owned businesses, all of which offer the feeling of an easy breezy lifestyle,” says Debbie Gildersleeve—owner of Renee’s in Mattituck—whose unique insights into interior design have made her vision part of that breezy lifestyle in celebrated homes on both forks. “Cozy, coastal décor is a popular home furnishings trend on the East End, and one of the most fun to work with. There are many opportunities to create a beautiful, beachy look in your home.”

What rooms in the home typically get overlooked from an interior design perspective, and what do you recommend people do to address these oversights?
Surprisingly, the kitchen often turns from an inviting space to a functional space only, and is not always considered when redesigning a dwelling. As the heart of the home, your kitchen should be a central area for redesign. It’s amazing how much larger a space can look without all of the unnecessary clutter. In kitchens, especially, many of the items you keep on your counter tops, islands, and tables can be stored away in cabinets and drawers, and taken out only when needed. Add new accessories like ceramic canisters, candles, install a new backsplash, and paint the cabinets to breathe new life into this space. You can bring added warmth here by mixing varying types of lighting to add a glow and atmosphere.

Are there any cardinal rules you follow when approaching a project, or that you recommend homeowners follow before they begin a project?
Every room in your home serves a purpose, and the one thing to remember is that you want your space to be functional. You can create a functional living space that’s also comfortable and representative of your own personal style, making it cozy and beautiful all at the same time. I love working with clients to find out how they want a room to work and make it a reflection of their own vision. It’s a collaborative effort, and the possibilities are endless.

Discuss some of the hottest home furnishing and design trends for 2016, particularly now that summer is in high gear.
The trend I love most is clean, sophisticated lines in home furnishings. People are tending to veer away from the traditional, formal furnishings, and are leaning more towards a casual, non-cluttered look. Mixing materials, like rustic-looking wood with leather or metal accents in items such as coffee and side tables, and using a blend of linen accents and mirrored dressers in living spaces, is a personal favorite. Blending interesting pieces that aren’t necessarily matchy-matchy, but make sense together, is a fun way to decorate a space, and tells the homeowner’s story. My main goal when working in different spaces is to create functional and inviting environments that are also very beautiful.

Kitchen design from Renee’s in Mattituck
Kitchen design from Renee’s in Mattituck

What 5 items—fabric, furniture, accessories, etc.—should every home have?
At Renee’s, many of the items we carry are not run of the mill. We have a wonderful mixture of beachy, industrial, and modern designs, and mixing the many different genres helps to create a unique look. For five items, I would say linen is a popular fabric in the form of a beachy slipcovered sofa; an industrial coffee table that blends metal accents and reclaimed wood; a cozy fur throw; an assortment of pillows, in different fabrics and styles, to create an individualized look; and, most importantly, lighting. I feel 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. It’s an amazing tool one can use to create any mood one wishes to enjoy in their home.

What is your favorite aspect of your own home’s design aesthetic?
We recently renovated our home, so we’ve had the chance to do a lot of redesign lately. Family is the most important thing to us, and having a warm and cozy space for everyone to be together is what I love most. Our home reflects our beachy, laidback lifestyle, and I love coming home after a long day of work to relax on a cozy sectional that I ordered in the softest chenille available. It’s one of our best sellers in the store. The sectional is deep and plush, and the fabrics are yummy. I sit on that and wrap myself in a faux fur throw to end the day and spend time with my family. Your home should be your oasis, and mine certainly is!

Where do you find inspiration for home design projects?
On the East End you can find inspiration everywhere. Thanks to our beach towns, coastal design elements play a large role in a lot of interior design projects. With sea-inspired color schemes, clean, sophisticated lines, and airy, open spaces, we can draw inspiration right from our own backyards. When working with a client, learning about their own design aesthetic and how they want a space to work offers the framework of how the space will be designed. Conversations also offer inspiration, and it’s an exciting opportunity to bring their design visions to life.

What do you love most about North Fork living?
What’s not to love! The North Fork offers a cool, casual lifestyle that’s unlike any other. Having grown up out here when my parents first opened Renee’s, and coming back to take over the family business with my husband Bill as my partner, it’s a wonderful place to live. It’s a very relaxed but sophisticated place at the same time, 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.

Debbie Gildersleeve is an owner of Renee’s, an interior design and fashion store at 10095 Main Road in Mattituck. Call 631-298-4223 of visit

Fabric chairs from Renee’s in Mattituck
Fabric chairs from Renee’s in Mattituck

More from Our Sister Sites