From Greenwich to the World

Interior designer Cindy Rinfret shares tips and tricks for elegant yet comfortable designs

Cindy Rinfret, the award-winning interior designer and owner of Rinfret, Ltd. and Rinfret Home & Garden, is back with a new book: Greenwich Style: Inspired Family Homes. Using her signature “young traditional” style, Rinfret showcases stunning interiors while teaching readers how to create the timeless classic look of Greenwich for themselves.

How does your first book, Classic Greenwich Style, differ from Greenwich Style:
Inspired Family Homes?
Six years has passed and although both books are about “classic design,” this book has more transitional design. In all of the years I have worked in Greenwich, all of my work has been designed around “family living.” My clients have children, dogs and, generally, lots of extended family. So as beautiful as all these rooms are to look at, they are designed around real life of active families.

What is most important to consider when designing a family home?
Adult and children and even the dogs lifestyle! A successfully designed home ensures everyone in the house will be comfortable in EVERY room. No room is off limits, and all are designed to be enjoyed and lived in to their fullest.

Is a family home different from a traditional home? In what ways?
I think traditional homes were our parent’s generation. Today, people are more global and more casual. My belief is that in a family home, every room should be inclusive and enjoyed by the entire family and a behaved pet!

Who or what has been your greatest influence?
Travel has been my greatest influence. I am continually inspired by new places I see and the history of the past. The great architects of our time have influenced me, I am also a great admirer of David Easton, John Rosselli and Valentino!

What is your most memorable design project?
The design and building of my own home. Personally, I think it was the perfect blend of elegant and casual. It is a great “party” house and a place with lots of memories. The material, limestone, oak, leather, sisal, linens only just get better with age. (Wish I did!) I was honored to host CTC&G’s anniversary party in my home. A home is to be shared with family and friends and a place to create great memories that always feels comfortable.

What did you learn from designing your own home, Laurel Hill?
That the interiors and exterior landscape are both rooms to consider as one. I love the fact that every room in my home has a view out the window to a courtyard or fountain. The inside and outside are just extensions of themselves, creating a house that has a seamless existence between indoor and outdoor living.

How has your style changed over the years?
I think I have become more casual and really have become more concerned with comfort and lifestyle rather than just appearance. Sounds like life in general. I will always like classic design with a bit of a surprise that truly reflects a person’s lifestyle.

What makes Greenwich style unique?
I am fortunate to live and work in an area with fantastic architecture, sophisticated residences and a beautiful town. My clients are well educated, well traveled and their interiors reflect that “well lived” life. The interiors are beautiful and confident without being overstated.  

What was the criteria for the homes you included in your new book?
I wanted to show different styles of living. We have traditional, transitional, classic and contemporary. There is not one client or one style. The homes are all classic in their own right and reflect different individuals and different styles of architecture. Plus, they are all some of my personal favorite projects!

What is the secret to blending antiques and transitional pieces?
Scale is most important, plus confidence and a good decorator!

What drew you to Greenwich and to open your design business and store?
I am a Connecticut girl. I moved to Paris and NYC in the early part of my career, but knew I always wanted to raise my family back in Connecticut.

How do you achieve functional luxury?
First, do not be afraid to live your life. Use all the beautiful things you own and enjoy NOW and every day. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Design a home that makes you happy, not your mother, your friends, but you and your family’s lifestyle. There are no set rules but that of loving the place where you live.

Who or what inspired you to become an interior designer?
I eat, breath and sleep design. It is a curse and a blessing I think I was born with. I have loved what I do from day one. I think Rhode Island School of Design and my mother, who was a very creative lady, inspired my love of anything to do with design and the creative process.

What room is your favorite in a family home and why?
I have two, my outdoor living room with the fireplace going and the sound of the water in my Koi pond. And my bathroom. I am a tub person, and every night I take a bath in my oasis of a bathroom! I just love it because it is peaceful and gorgeous. It is the perfect way to end a busy day.

Greenwich Style: Inspired Family Homes can be bought through Rizzoli New York, at various bookstores or at Rinfret Home & Garden in Greenwich.

headshot: Michael Partenio; book cover:Rizzoli New York.