It seems no matter what she did, the world of design kept pulling Wakefield’s Kristen Martone in. After college she lived in Newport while student teaching. “That summer, after a major car accident and the inability to walk for six months, an opportunity was presented to me to get involved with the yachting industry for a summer,” she explains. She leapt at the chance, which turned into five years of working for politicos and celebrities. Kristen’s knack for setting elegant tablescapes, presenting beautifully plated dishes and setting the design tone in the state rooms was continually called upon. Her travels through New England, points down the Eastern seaboard and the Caribbean introduced her to diverse cultures and their interpretations of design. “Being around water and the islands still inspires my use of color,” she says.
After returning to dry land, Kristen met her husband, who owns a construction and painting business, and the two built a spec house that became Kristen’s first major design project. “So it seemed like a perfect fit to go to RISD and get involved in the interior design world and work together as a team,” she says.
Today, as principal of Graceke Design, Kristen often merges traditional style with a contemporary flair, what she calls “transitional design” punctuated by clean lines, soothing colors and comfortable furniture. As a mom to three children, Kristen trades temporary trendy styles for more timeless pieces and furnishings with sentimental value. Her ability to understand busy working families, and the desire to merge want and need, is what sets her apart. “I deal with many clients who have great vision of what they want and how their space functions best,” she says. “The problem is, either in their busy lives of managing a family or working in the corporate world, they just need to know where to find the products, then have the choices narrowed down and presented in a focused environment.”
Kristen specializes in crafting custom window treatments. “I have a multitude of fabric lines in many price points that we carry,” she says. “I work with the customer to design drapes, top treatments, blinds, etcetera. I then have a workroom where talented fabricators and I consult about producing a quality product that is functional, aesthetically pleasing and will wear well over time.” She’s also introducing seasonal and holiday decorating for outdoor spaces, mantles and tablescapes.
As she wants each client to have a unique style, Kristen sources at many local shops. “I love to take a day to shop in small towns for client wish lists,” she says. Other hotspots include Simple Pleasures in Charlestown, Inside Style in Wakefield, McKay’s in North Kingstown, Sherwin-Williams in Narragansett, Dove and Distaff in Wakefield and Fabric Gallery in North Kingstown. “I create rooms that can truly be experienced, so it’s important to take the time to source out and find pieces that are out of the ordinary and will not be seen in anyone else’s home.”