On top of being an amazing Interior Designer, Lisa Newman is the brain behind Homestyle. If you’ve ever explored this home decor haven, you already know how much personality is packed in there. With a massive selection of decor, gifts, and other odds and ends for the home, Homestyle has really become an original…maybe even a work of art. Once you step foot into Homestyle, you can’t help but fall in love with everything you see.
1) What was your inspiration to open up your own shop?
I was inspired to open Homestyle because when I moved to Rhode Island in 2001 I was impressed with the cool aesthetic that so many people in Rhode Island appreciate and surprised that there was no retail venue where someone could find that kind of product at a medium price point. As a decorator I found that I either had to take clients to Boston or Connecticut for things that I wasn’t able to source through the Design Center. There were low-end big box furniture stores and super high-end designer oriented stores but nothing where, for example, someone could find a collection of sofas where they also had lots of fabric options for under $2000 or for $300-500 they could find a really unique, “conversation piece” table. From my 20 years as a decorator I knew those products were out there at that price and so I opened Homestyle. I just had to wait until I found the right location and when Westminster Street started coming to life my husband and I agreed it was the perfect spot. In the six years that I’ve been open Homestyle has morphed into its current form, which is part that original vision of furniture and home decor but an equal part design-inspired gift emporium, which allows us to reach a broader audience.
2) List your three favorite things about Homestyle.
My three favorite things about Homestyle are: 1) the way we have been able to blend a cool urban feel with a warm, inclusive, upbeat vibe, 2) the constantly changing assortment of unexpected treasures our customers find when they pop in to say hi or to purchase a gift, and further that when they look at price tags they are pleasantly surprised by how affordable our products are. I take a lot of pride in making sure people feel like they are getting a good value. 3) I’m also very proud of our extraordinarily unique and lovely custom gift wrap which we offer as a complimentary service to our customers. We really try to be all about service but in a low-key way meaning that everyone is greeted when they come in but then we hang back and let them experience the store the way that they want to. We are available to help but do not push or engage with customers who simply want to browse and enjoy the experience in their own quiet way.
3) You were most recently featured on “This Old House”, tell us a little bit about that experience?
This Old House was an amazing experience. It’s actually the second project I’ve done with them but the first one was a collaboration with several designers. This time the producers came directly to me based on the experience they had working with me on that first project and asked if I would take on the whole house myself. It was a unique challenge in that I was working with the homeowners to give them an interior space that they would love but I also needed to satisfy the producers and director so that it made for a good t.v. I had to be able to articulate in front of a camera what I was doing in a way that would be both educational and engaging for their audience. I was very fortunate that they decided to film a segment right in the store and got to show off both Homestyle and the Downcity neighborhood. I’m very proud of the work I did on that project and during the process I became friendly not only with the homeowners but with the builder and his crew, the producers, the director, and the host, Kevin.
4) Why did you decide to become an Interior Designer?
I decided to become a designer when I was in my early 20′s. I had a fine art and fashion background and wanted to start my own business in a creative field. I had friends who encouraged me to consider it based on work I had done in my own home and for family and friends. I am totally self-taught and give a lot of credit to the subcontractors I have worked with over the years to help me understand the mechanics of how things are built, installed, etc. I had the vision but not the technical knowledge and they were my teachers in the beginning. Now I like to try to give back by mentoring others who are interested in establishing their own businesses.
5) If you had to pick a pattern that most resembled your personality, which would it be and why?
I love this question about if I had to pick a pattern what would I be. My instinct is to say I think I’m a paisley. A lot of energy that seems to be moving in different directions and using different colors but overall it comes together in a way that works. Paisleys are not rigid or predictable and they are in constant motion. That’s totally how I live my life and run my business.