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10 Questions for Cindy Rinfret

Designer and owner of Rinfret Home & Garden

1 Can you tell us about your clients?
They are wonderful people, mostly in the business, finance, fashion and entertainment worlds. I have been designing homes for Tommy Hilfiger and his family for 20 years and am also now working with Regis and Joy Philbin. Many of my clients have young children and pets, and that lifestyle is reflected in my designs.

2 What’s your design style?
I create classic, timeless homes that are designed with comfort and livability in mind. I like to describe my design philosophy like this: “Your home should be like your favorite outfit—comfortable, yet luxurious, like the perfect cashmere sweater with your go-to pair of jeans.” It’s the mix that is exciting. Everything in a home should be comfortable, and every room has to be lived in.

3 How can our readers make their homes more comfortable?
Every room should have a cozy throw, some candles, and flowers. You want to play to the senses of feel, smell and sight. Touch on those and you will make a room inviting and intimate. Fresh flowers, orchids for instance, give a room life; they’re like art. Scented candles draw you in. It’s not just about beautiful furniture but how the room makes you feel.

4 What are some of your favorite paints and fabrics?
I love sage and limestone colors such as Farrow & Ball Green #75 and Match Stick #2013. These colors are relaxed and bring the outside in. I like when there is no separation between the home and the garden when you look out your windows. I also love anything from the English fabric company, Hodsoll McKenzie. Its relaxed faded linens are so easy to live with and so understatedly elegant.

5 What’s your favorite piece of furniture in your Greenwich store?
Right now I love the very tall French bookcase in a distressed gray-green that we have in my shop, Rinfret Home & Garden. I always love books in a house, especially when combined with framed photographs, and piled high on an impressive bookcase. It’s a relaxed look that says a lot about the occupants of the home.

6 What’s something we might not know about you?
I have two children, three dogs, two cats, a very talkative and amusing parrot, 22 koi fish and a turtle. I must have been a gentleman farmer in a previous life. I love the joy they all bring to me on a daily basis. That feeling is inspiring and makes it all worth it!

7 You must be a pro at designing spaces that are stylish yet kid-friendly and pet-proof. What are some of your best tips?
If you’re concerned about dogs jumping on the furniture and kids climbing on with their sippy cups, I recommend outdoor fabrics. You can use them to upholster your family-room furniture. It’s a real stress reliever for moms when they don’t have to worry about kids or pets making a mess. The outdoor furniture and fabric business has become so big. Sunbrella and Kravet offer amazing lines. They make the most beautiful herringbones and other sophisticated outdoor fabrics now; you’d never know in a million years that they were meant for outside.

8 Any advice on living with antiques when you have kids and pets?
My philosophy is that you don’t want to be a slave to your house. Use antiques where you won’t sacrifice comfort for kids and pets. If you have antique dining chairs but you’re afraid to sit in your dining room, what’s the point? Instead, use antique lighting fixtures or consoles in the living room or an entryway. In a family room, you can use less precious pieces like antique pine furniture or garden furniture and iron consoles. I like using outdoor elements inside because they’re meant to stand up to wear and tear and they only get better with age.

9 Since this is our outdoor living issue, are there any outdoor furniture lines you recommend?
For outdoor living, I love Country Casual teak. Restoration Hardware also has amazing new outdoor lines. I dress them up by using special pillows and throws. Choose pieces that are durable. I let my teak furniture sit outside over the winter because I like when it gets its silvery, gray color. I also like stone garden benches and mixing wicker with iron and stone. At my home, I have a limestone mantel with my outdoor fireplace. It’s unexpected to have that level of detail outside.

10 When you’re entertaining at home, what are some ways you make outdoor parties special?
I like to bring some of my best pieces out when I’m having an outdoor dinner party: antique candlesticks, cachepots, even an indoor rug—just for that evening. For instance, use a whole set of blue-and-white pottery on an outdoor table with real linen napkins. Hang lanterns from a pergola or porch with candles. Torches around the space also make things instantly festive. My advice is, Live your life! Use your wedding presents. Every day should be special. It’s not a dress rehearsal—this is it!

Rinfret Home and Garden
354 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830
203-622-0000; rinfretltd.com