Michele Chagnon Holbrook Of Casabella Interiors Talks Trends, What Every Room Needs And Creating The Perfect Escape

Michele Chagnon Holbrook of Casabella Interiors knows what it takes to make a house a home. From her design studio on Cape Cod, the principal designer hand selects every piece of furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs, fabrics, drapery and art sourced from vendors around the world.  What makes her business so unique is Holbrook’s eye for combining classic elegance with modern comfort to create layered interiors using subtle textures and muted hues. Whether it’s a whole home renovation or creating a new look for an individual room, the experienced team at Casabella Interiors will create your perfect look.

Casabella InteriorsPhoto Credit: Casabella Interiors

We caught up recently with Michele to discuss trends, what every room needs and creating the perfect escape.

What are some spring design trends we should keep an eye out for?

I just got back from Show and try to go three or four times a year to see trends in the future of the home. There continue to be new neutrals like pale blues and seafoam. Soothing, timeless colors are being brought out of the bedroom to other rooms like the living room and dining room. It’s creating a place to snuggle up to. We are seeing a lot of staining or colored wood. For example, you could have a beautiful turquoise sofa and stained turquoise dresser. We are also seeing textured fronts that are not just smooth, which is so natural to the living element. A lot of our inspiration comes from the high seas with nautical tones and crisp blue and white, which remains classically stylish. The trends with the home are all about family, creating open floor plans that have a more relaxed design with performance fabrics, beautiful chenilles, large kitchens with ample seating, big stoves, home theaters and master bedrooms that are now hotel and spa-like. It’s all about the work/life balance. We are also seeing a lot of changes in furniture with dual pieces, pieces hiding docking stations and even wifi enabled window treatments.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Sophisticated East Coast. I opened the shop in 2011 as a place to inspire people. I was from Boston and loved coming to the Cape before moving here. We  design houses now down here and then people bring us to their homes in New York or Rhode Island. We have branded ourselves for that. We want to create a home space for someone to escape to.

Casabella InteriorsPhoto Credit: Casabella Interiors

What inspires you to come up with new ideas?

When someone tells me it’s a big seller and I don’t love it, I won’t get it. We don’t design around the trends, which is why classic pieces are timeless. My style is more classic, more collected. When someone comes to us, I find out what inspires them. What inspires me could be something I see in a magazine or it could be a medallion on a piece of fabric. I’m a hunter, always looking for the right piece. We can do any style, traditional or transitional, but my love is in the mix of everything. I like taking something ordinary and making it into an extraordinary piece by adding something interesting that makes it yours. Our challenge is recreating colors, but we want each space to look different. You don’t want the same lamp or the same artwork in each room. It’s constant hunting.

Every room needs?

Something whimsy. I showed a fabric once for a kitchen drape of a loosely sketched rooster. When it was pleated, you couldn’t really see it. That’s how we design. Rooms shouldn’t be too serious. For each room, we start with something we love and go from there.

Where should people splurge and where can they be cost conscious?

That’s a good question. Always make sure the quality of pieces is your splurge. For example, in the kitchen, the counter and bar stools are one of the most used pieces. Invest in those pieces of furniture. From there, you can cut back on the pillow fabric or drape fabric, but don’t cut corners on things that never change. I am always amazed when I see people invest $100,000 to $200,000 in a kitchen, but don’t want to invest in lighting. How often do you change the hard lighting in your house? Never. If you are building a mirror into a bathroom, you can cut back on the vanity, but put some fun knobs on it. We are all about the details.

Casabella InteriorsPhoto Credit: Casabella Interiors

What is it about Casbella Interiors that makes you so unique?

I think one of the things that has helped our success is that a lot of small mom and pop shops are going away. We employ local people. We have a staff of five year round and do turnkey services from soup to nuts. We did a house last year and ended up gutting it and they just made one call to us. We did the soft furnishings, stonework and exterior work. We can stock your refrigerator, have the bed made, lamps on, candles lit. We can accessorize your house in a day. We are a collaboration of designers with a 2,500 square foot shop and 4,000 square foot warehouse. We charge one hourly rate and you get a whole team of us. One might do CAD drawings while another is pulling fabrics. Everyone knows what is going on with the project.

What is the key to making a traditional space transform in a beautiful one?

The devil is in the details. We get so many people coming to us who used a designer, but it’s not finished. It’s the layering that turns a house into a home. We want to make it look like you have lived there forever. People need guidance and our job is to cut it down on a smaller level so people don’t get overwhelmed. We have seen so many people spend a lot of money, but don’t end up with the finished product they were looking for.