Changing with the Seasons

South County designer Deborah DeCristofaro on refreshing your home for the spring


When Deborah DeCristofaro worked in her family business, which offered floor coverings and custom window treatments, she discovered her passion for beautiful spaces. She went back to school and earned a certificate in Interior Design from RISD. Now, she owns DeCristo Design, in Narragansett. We sat down to talk seasonal style and local trends.

How do you define South County style?

Coastal South County style is different than inland style. Many South County homeowners want the coastal look, with natural materials, and light and airy palettes. My inland clientele tend to be more New England and modern traditional, using a deeper color palette along with more detailed architectural details. This makes designing in Rhode Island so interesting and varied. Even in such a small state, from one end to the other, the change can be extreme – for instance a historic East Side home compared to a beach cottage in Charlestown. Being able to transition from one client’s style to another is what attracted me to this field. I can relate to the phrase: variety is the spice of life!

Do you have any advice on making coastal décor work year-round, rather than just in the summer?

Have a neutral palette on your furniture. You can quickly change the feeling in the room by popping new toss pillows onto the furniture, or changing accessories, area rugs or art. That can change the decor from summer to winter, which works great for the year-round residences in South County.

The design process seems like such a big undertaking.

It can be overwhelming for people. I always enjoy sharing my expertise to simplify the process and most importantly make it an enjoyable experience. My projects range from selecting a fresh coat of paint and new window treatments, to working with home plans during a build or renovation project, participating in the beginning to end of the planning process. The results of the transformation and having the homeowner be thrilled with the new look is most satisfying to me.

How do you balance a client’s design dreams with your expert opinions?

I believe a good designer will listen to what a client is telling them and then be able to bring that vision to reality for them. The idea is not to transpose what the designer wants, but what the homeowner envisions. A designer is simply one of the many tools people have to get to that end. I consider myself a guide for any project, small or large.

What are some design trends you’re loving right now?
The paint colors for 2017 work beautifully with a nautical theme, whether it be summer or winter. Sherwin Williams Poised Taupe and Benjamin Moore’s Shadow show the sharp contrast of what can be used in today’s home, whether you want drama, serenity or a little of both when paired together.

What’s your stance on matching vs. eclectic décor?
No matching – but eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. Mix your finishes, but don’t let too many materials act as the visual interest. Use two to three various textures at most, smooth to rough, which will achieve variety without the confusion.

March is a tough transition month from winter to spring. Any tips to brighten a home?

Add fresh flowers to get rid of the winter blahs, and tweak your lighting. Add more lamps for a brighter space. And when it comes to redecorating, shop your home first: move the furniture and accessories by repurposing some pieces from another room.

DeCristo Design

91 Pt. Judith Road, #1, Narragansett