Interior Designer Meryl Santopietro Adds To Her Simply Spotless Reputation
Some designer rooms scream "look, but don't touch," leaving homeowners to worry about just how to maintain that perfect appeal. Acclaimed interior designer Meryl Santopietro, of Meryl Santopietro Interiors, not only designs beautiful rooms that are functional, she's also just created Simply Spotless New York, a line of cleaning products to make upkeep a breeze.
Based in Rhode Island and New York, Meryl has clients straight down the coast to Miami and across the Atlantic to London. Her portfolio ranges from classical and traditional to modern and contemporary.
Passionate about her design work and committed to her loyal clients, her educational background reflects her commitment to art—a university fine arts major, advanced studies in art history at the University of California at Berkeley, certificate work at Rhode Island School of Design and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) membership. Meryl was recently honored with the prestigious 2013 ASID Excellence in Design Award from the organization's New England Chapter. Founded as a non-profit organization in 1975, the American Society of Interior Designers is the largest design organization in the world, with 48 chapters throughout the United States and more than 450 international members.
TotalHousehold: How do you describe your design style?
Meryl Santopietro: My own design style is decidedly elegant, refined and very minimalistic. I love luxurious textures, whether they are incredible wood finishes or sumptuous fabrics. But my personal mantra is "less is more," so I hold back and aim for a look that is uncluttered.
One space that is really striking is the living room pictured here. This house is a glass, concrete and steel structure located on the waterfront in Rhode Island. I really love the cool modern aesthetic of the space. The chunky white sofa from B & B Italia sets the tone in the room with its thick, tufted detailing. The soft quality of the sofa meshes perfectly with the Mies van der Rohe chaise. The square block styling of the teak coffee table and the orange ottoman complete the setting. The clients are very serious art collectors, therefore the stark white walls and crisp white sofa are the perfect juxtaposition for the modern art you see in the photograph.
The beautiful sleek spa setting pictured here is another favorite space that I designed. This room is part of the glass, concrete and steel structure and its sole function is to pamper guests of this waterfront property. It houses a massage table in addition to the shower and soaking tub featured in this Zen-like setting. The walls consist of dark gray stria ceramic tile with a symmetry that allows for the shower and tub areas to flow together. The striking quality of the space is its total functionality. A wall niche holds the appropriate toiletries. A simple piece of glass creates the shower. The tub is cast concrete. And the floor is a combination of concrete and beach pebbles set in concrete to define the space with a carpet like pattern.
TH: Tell us about the style of your own home and the touches that make it unique.
MS: One space that's a lot of fun is the lower level of our home. It consists of about 2500 square feet of living space and includes a bedroom and bathroom suite with a walk-in closet, a fabulous bar comprised of a beautiful sycamore wood with an adjoining living room that features an entertainment unit in sycamore. The walls are finished in a gorgeous raspberry grass cloth and floor to ceiling windows overlook the patio and infinity pool. This room features a tournament size pool table in electric blue felt, and Andy Warhol prints give it that cool '70s vibe.
My living room, below, is a bit more restrained with cream walls that are 12' high, floor-to-ceiling windows and lots of sleek furniture, featuring a Christian Liaigre wing chair in pearl grey mohair, a suede tuxedo sofa in off-white with aubergine silk Ikat pillows (I am mad for Ikat fabrics!), alabaster lamps, accents tables in black and gold to create the understated luxurious look that I love and a fabulous graffiti painting in reds, orange and black by a Russian artist from the '70s.
TH: What's your advice for choosing an interior designer and maintaining a good relationship through the project?
MS: My advice is to choose a designer who is a good listener. Clients need to make sure that their voice is being heard throughout the project. Because projects can present unforeseen challenges, it is vitally important to understand the client's vision and to be able to lead them. That can only happen if the designer is listening to the client. The client must feel that they are valued and understood. Those are the secrets to a great client-designer relationship.
Above and below, a Meryl Santopietro interior on Nantucket.
TH: Do you design differently for a family with children?
MS: Good design is livable design and as such it should be available to every homeowner. Adults can be as messy as children.
TH: What's the secret for creating kid-friendly (and easy-to-care-for) designed spaces? In other words, how can you design for great style, but with easy to clean fabrics and non-breakables?
MS: My approach for easy-to-care-for living spaces is to pick a color palette that allows for diversity. That said, today's neutral palettes in a soft warm gray or taupe can provide a very forgiving foundation for an active interior. Combine those tones with today's stress-free indoor/outdoor fabrics that are easy to clean and can stand up to an active household, and you have a winner. Accessories for active households can and should be large-scale pieces. Less is more!! Art and accessories thoughtfully selected on a larger scale introduce color and design in a more meaningful way.
TH: What made you develop the new Simply Spotless line?
MS: My inspiration to create this line of cleaning products was driven by my clients' needs. Clients have been asking me for years to help them maintain their beautiful furnishings by directing them to the right products. From my own testing, I knew the products currently on the commercial market were too harsh and abrasive. Our Simply Spotless products transform the cleaning process into a lifestyle choice with highly effective, yet gentle solutions that are safe enough for your delicate fabrics and finishes. Simply Spotless products have been awarded the highest rating from the EPA, have outperformed the leading competitors in national testing and are made in New York City. Launching this month, the product line, which presently includes a hand cleaner, wood cleaner, fabric cleaner, and glass surface cleaner, is available as the "Essential Cleaning Kit" or individually.
Our fabric cleaner eliminates stains, but does so without destroying the inherent qualities of the fabrics. And it leaves no residue and can be used repeatedly to lift stubborn stains.
Our glass surface cleaner is a product that cleans glass and mirror without streaking and it has the same capabilities for stainless appliances. Allowing for the easy, streak-free cleaning of stainless is a miracle for today's kitchen. Stone and tile are also easily cleaned by this product.
Our wood cleaner works at restoring the luster to fine wood finishes. It is not a polish, so there is no concern about a filmy buildup that results from the over-use of polish.
And our hand cleaner is just the perfect complement to our other products . Simply Spotless reflects our desire and dedication to create a home care product line that is environmentally conscious, uniquely packaged, pleasing to the senses and designed to be openly displayed on your countertops. Simply Spotless NY products are just starting to hit stores in NYC and Boston areas and are available online.
TH: Tell us about the family aspect of your business. What is it like to work with your daughters, Alessandra, a designer, and Joy, the director of business affairs?
MS: Working together with my daughters has been an incredible experience on so many levels—their talents, their dedication to our business, their vision and their ability to work with their mom is amazing!! I truly couldn't manage our projects without their assistance.
I am most fortunate because my daughters are so highly qualified for their positions. I tell everyone that I didn't hire them because they were my daughters—I hired them because of their qualifications. We have a lot of responsibility to handle with our clients, providing turnkey residences for our mostly international client base. This is where working my daughters is so valuable. Since we are a service business we need to be available to our clients on their schedule. My daughters get that and have made themselves available for clients on nights and weekends as needed.
Alessandra, left, and Joy, center, with Meryl.
TH: How might you and Alessandra approach different parts of the same project?
MS: Alessandra approaches a design project in a very detail oriented way, whereas I view the project as a whole and work to create the client's vision. Once we develop the overall design scheme, Alessandra then details that vision with a carefully curated mix of styles. The most notable aspect of her interpretation is seen in the selection of fabrics and wall coverings. Those pieces really offer a reflection into the parallel world of fashion design.
TH: How did it feel to be honored with a prestigious ASID award?
MS: My award was a complete surprise. I had never given much thought to winning awards—I have always focused on making our clients happy. I must say it was a truly wonderful experience—being honored by your peers is pretty great!
To find out more about Meryl, go to www.merylsantopietro.com, call 401-258-9798 or email email@example.com