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Designer Debbie Gildersleeve Dishes on Style and Inspiration

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Successful interior designers are experts at bringing a client's vision to life, whether it be a bathroom remodel or designing an entire house. Debbie Gildersleeve, a designer and buyer on the North Fork, works tirelessly with each client to select everything from grout color to furniture pieces, with clients ranging from the East End, across Long Island and in Manhattan. She also owns a fashion and furnishings store in Mattituck called Renee's. We sat down with Debbie and asked her about her design philosophy and inspiration.

What's your design style?
I work with my clients to meet their individual design style, but my personal style is cozy-casual with clean lines. Living and working out here I do love the modern beachy style, paired with an eclectic edge.

What's your philosophy on interior design?
My philosophy is that I am designing for the client, not myself. I get to know each client individually, learn about them, their family, and what will make them happy and meet their needs. Each room in a home has a different function, and I aim to not only bring a client's vision to life, but make the room function positively in the way a client needs.

What's your background in design?
I don't have a technical background in design. I was an English major in college, but worked in retail while I was in school. Design came very naturally to me, so I became a freelance designer and also worked in my parents' fashion and furnishings store, Renee's. My experience has all been hands on, and I feel I learned so much more that way.

Who are you design heroes?
In my life I have been lucky to be around some very creative people. My daughter Morgan is a design student at Parsons in Manhattan, and also is a talented photographer and designer herself. Morgan works with me a lot when going to trade shows, designing rooms, and fashion buying as well. My oldest daughter Taylor is an actress, and inspires me with her passion and dedication. Also, my future son-in-law is a world-renowned artist with some very high profile clients. I could go on and on; I just admire so many artistic people!

How does the East End influence your designs?
The coastal and casual lifestyle of the East End is a major influence in my design style. It's that style that clients are looking for when they come out here. I love soothing colors, casual and easy styles.

Any big mistakes you regret?
I don't look at life with regrets, I feel you can learn from any mistake.

Why did you decide to practice in this area?
I spent a lot of time on the East End, particularly the North Fork, before college. I believe in this area; it has so much potential, I love the lifestyle, and it's my home.

What's your favorite guilty pleasure in the Hamptons?
My life is rarely quiet—I'm always on the move, but I love it! A guilty pleasure in the Hamptons would be to simply sit on the beach during sunset. The ocean beaches are so beautiful, and it is one the best ways to relax.
· Renee's [Official]