On many occasions I find myself scrutinizing my modest and haphazardly furnished apartment, unsatisfied with the look of a room, wondering how I could improve it. After a few minutes of silent pondering, I’ll move a lamp over there and a table over here and, hmm... maybe it’s not the furniture but the Pink Floyd poster from college and pile of dirty laundry that are the giving the living room a bad vibe. I may not be a feng shui expert, but I have a good sense of when a space is comfortable and inviting – perhaps a little too comfortable in my case – and when it just needs that “extra something.”
Lee Chartier, owner of Inside Style in Wakefield, shares a similar, more sophisticated philosophy on comfort, which she brings to her eclectic home furnishings and interior design store. Her idea is that home decoration and design should be affordable and enjoyable. “For a lot of people, design is intimidating,” she says, “People expect us to be more expensive, [but] I think design services should be accessible.” At Inside Style, you can find anything for the home whether it’s new, antique or gently used. “I don’t care if it’s two minutes old or two hundred years old, I like timeless pieces,” says Chartier.
In addition to her store, Chartier offers interior design consultations by appointment. During a typical consultation, she will work with a client in the home and give advice on ways to customize and accent a room, or the whole house, moving around furniture (with permission) and offering new ideas. Understanding the cost of home improvement projects, Chartier gives her clients the option to remodel with her assistance or without, if they prefer the D.I.Y. route.
Chartier, a Wakefield native who studied art at Brown University, is also a full time faculty member at CCRI where she teaches marketing. Clearly, she knows a little bit about what she’s doing, which explains Inside Style’s frequent activity on Twitter and Facebook where she posts photos about the especially unique and beautiful pieces she finds. She says, “We get new things in every week,” so using social media makes perfect sense in a business where the inventory is as transient and unique as a thrift store and as alluring and exquisite as an art gallery.
While you wouldn’t find every piece of furniture at Inside Style in Chartier’s own house, she appreciates the beauty of each item. So, how does she describe her own style? “Casual elegance. I’m really about my surroundings; I know that I’m comfortable in a place that’s beautiful.”
155 Main St., Wakefield. 783-7800. Follow Lee on Twitter at @InsideStyleRI.