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A New Beginning

Carleen DeSisto turned her passion for design into a new career

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Although Carleen M. DeSisto always had a passion for interior design, she earned a B.S. in business administration and management from Bryant University. “I started as a legal secretary and got totally bored with that, so I decided to go into the financial services field,” the West Greenwich resident explains. Although her successful career path provided a good salary and comfortable living, she decided it was finally time to pursue her dream. As she worked her day job, she completed the Interior Design Certificate Program at RISD in 1998. Carleen gained experience with part-time design projects while maintaining her full-time position until a unique opportunity presented itself, and she became a franchisee of Décor & You, a national decorating organization. “It’s my own small business. I look at the franchise as being a really important factor because I have a back office,” she explains. Marketing support, online education, seminars and a supportive team are just some of the benefits. “I just started my fourth year and I’m loving what I do. This is my passion, and I love helping people.”

Client needs range from accessory and window treatment assistance to complete floor-to-ceiling redesigns. “I work with a lot of people who just don’t know how to plan their space,” she says. “I help them visualize.” Carleen recently worked with a client who bought a new condo with an open floor plan. Because of the vast space, the client had no idea how to define areas for sitting, entertainment and a small office. Another element the client hadn’t considered was the natural traffic pattern and what the best size furniture would be for the space. “I did everything from furniture to window treatments to accessories,” says Carleen, who works with vendors via the Décor & You network. “They vet out all the vendors to make sure they are selling quality products and have great customer service.” The business of interior design is really about listening, says Carleen. Listening to the needs of the homeowner, what works for their lifestyle and what their budget allows. “It’s not about my style; it’s about their style. I want it to be beautiful but functional,” she says. Whether designing your new home or redesigning a tired space, Carleen says to take a deep breath and start by mapping out priority areas and finding focal points — and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. “I act as project manager a lot of times,” she says. “My tag line is I help people save time, save money and reduce stress and frustration.” 

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