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Luxury Living Donna Benedetto delivers on home design and logistics

August 21, 2018

Donna Benedetto’s career began in antiques. She was a matchmaker of sorts, searching for rare, one-of-kind specimens and marketing them to the appreciative buyer. Her eye for composition and her insatiable quest for beauty and balance certainly came in handy as she transitioned into full-service interior design 18 years ago.

Benedetto founded Donna Benedetto Design Studio in Easton, Conn., and today, an estimated 20-percent of her clientele hail from Greenwich, with the balance settled across Connecticut and New York.

In a way, she “runs two businesses.” She has clients who come seeking her interior design expertise and others who seek to engage her as a project manager for larger-scale construction.

In the latter case, Benedetto guides the architectural design, enlists subcontractors, sends out for quotations and then managing all the working parts to make sure the job stays on time and on budget.

“I have a really great crew of subcontractors who I work with, so it’s very seamless for the homeowner,” Benedetto said. She painstakingly matches subcontractors to a project depending on a number of factors — project fit, availability and timeline, and even personality.

“Certain clients just fit better with certain contractors, and I’ve been doing this long enough that I feel it’s important to pay attention to nuances like that,” she explained.

Benedetto’s “design perspective” is summed up on her website, donnabenedetto.com, as “classic design with a modern twist,” and that may perfectly describe the contemporary “Greenwich style,” as well. There is an expectation of quality and character afforded by vintage architecture and furnishings, but Greenwich homes today must also live up to the lifestyle expectations and demands of today’s homebuyers.

The designer is fond of the adjectives, “elegant” and “timeless,” and these qualities are reflected in her work. She also believes that good design isn’t just about visual impact; it should compel a feeling, cause an emotive reaction, too.

“Most of my client base is still looking for pretty classic foundational pieces, and then there are clients that want those classic foundations but are a little more adventurous in terms of art and accessories,” Benedetto said.

Some of the design direction stems from the architecture.

“I’m a little bit of a purist, in that if a house is of a particular style, it’s strange to design interiors that are out of context,” she explained. “It can feel confusing, disjointed, odd.”

Benedetto said that she draws creative inspiration from “everywhere.”

“Fashion, for me, is a big inspiration in design,” Benedetto revealed. “So many trends start on the runway and trickle down into design.”

She’s also an avid traveler, fine art aficionado and perpetual Internet and Instagram surfer.

“The Internet, of course, has a million sources of inspiration. Or it might come from a new fabric collection or a swatch of wallpaper. Those can be tipping points that can start a while project,” she noted. “Yesterday, I saw a fabric line and immediately thought of different directions I could take it in a future project — just based on that single fabric selection.

When asked if she relishes the opportunity to design particular interior spaces, Benedetto thought for a moment and said, “Believe it or not, powder rooms! These are the spaces that you can take ‘over the top,’ like little jewel boxes. They’re great spaces to get a little adventurous. They’re tiny spaces, but I love designing them because you can get very detail-oriented, and for my clients, it’s usually a space where they’re willing to take a few risks.”

Benedetto also said that from a design perspective, a pool house can be a challenging and fun. Often, these outbuildings are multitasking spaces, with guest accommodations, kitchens, creative space and even home offices. Here, the design can be in homage to the main house’s interiors and yet still explore bolder furnishings and color schemes.

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