Abby & Her Home
When you imagine the home of a professional editorial stylist, the first words that come to mind are generally things like “immaculate” and “flawless.” Yet, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Rhode Island home of stylist, Abby Capalbo, is both immaculate and comfortable! From the nautical nods toward the house’s seaside location, to the lovable presence of their golden retriever, Otto, we immediately felt right at home in Abby and her husband Andrew’s inviting space.
Abby’s roots were not always grounded so firmly in New England, but it’s where she has found her forever home. From Tennessee to New York, and Boston to California, Abby and Andrew have lived across the country and back again. Even with a continued spirit of wanderlust, their travels always lead them back to their little New England haven. Because Abby’s work is currently based out of her home, it was a top priority of hers to create a space where she could accomplish not only her professional goals, but also build quality memories with family and friends.
In her efforts to design such a multifunctional space, Abby opted for comfort and usability in every area of her home. We certainly can’t deny that she accomplished this task with the kind of elegance and style that any magazine would be proud to show off. Below, we invite you to step inside Abby’s refreshing and inspiring coastal home, plus pick up a few of her styling and entertaining secrets, too!
We’ve got to start with possibly the most important subject—Otto! When did you adopt your sweet pup, and what has he added to your life?
Obviously! He’s definitely the star of the show. I’m such an animal person (which I think is very obvious) and I swear, I’ve always had the most personality-packed animals. But Otto is in a league of his own. He’s such a little character. He was actually a wedding present from my husband, Andrew. I basically started campaigning for a dog the day after we met. True story. So, seven years later, after we got married, I finally got my wish.
Otto is such a member of our family, and because I’ve worked from home his entire life, he really has turned out to be quite the little sidekick. He makes us laugh every day, and definitely keeps us on our toes. I can’t imagine our little house without him.
What’s the key to a perfectly made bed in your opinion?
One that makes you want to jump right back in! I don’t love high-maintenance or super-complicated beds. Just give me some great sheets (I love these from Brooklinen), soft pillows and an amazing mattress, and that’s all that really matters. A fluffy golden retriever always helps to up the cozy level, too.
Why Rhode Island? What made you decide to settle there?
Well, to make a really long story short, we just love it here! It’s so incredibly special. I actually grew up in Tennessee, but my family is originally from New England, so we would escape those brutal southern summers by hitting the beach along the New England coast. A favorite being those in Rhode Island. So, I’ve always had such a nostalgic view of this little state.
After college, I moved to a little beach town in Rhode Island for the summer to act as a launching point as I interviewed for jobs in Boston and New York. That’s actually where I met Andrew. I got my first job in Boston that fall, and he was in law school in Boston, so the stars were aligning right before our eyes.
We lived in Boston for years, and then he got his first job, and my job moved me to California. My time in California made me really realize how much I love the east coast (and that blue-eyed boy named Andrew), so when I moved back, we started to really talk about where we wanted to live. We looked at all the little suburbs of Boston, but nothing made us feel as good as our little Barrington did.
We feel really lucky we get to live here. It doesn’t feel real that we have such amazing access to the ocean while being so close to Providence, Boston and New York (and the mountains), but we’ll take it!
I want people to come over with their dogs and their kids and not be worried about messing things up. I want people to linger longer than they planned because they are so comfy…That was ultimately my goal.
What do you love most about being an editorial stylist? Why did you decide to pursue a career in this area?
I love that I can bring all the crazy things that float around in my head on a daily basis to life. Being able to create something beautiful (at least to me) out of nothing is kind of thrilling. Tying a story to it makes it all the better. It was a natural progression after my time at Style Me Pretty. I loved getting to pour over images day in and day out on that gorgeous site, but I was antsy to create some “pretty” on my own. If you know me at all, you know I don’t sit still well, so getting out from behind the computer has been such a blessing.
What has been really amazing though, is how much my work has evolved since I branched out two years ago. From brand consulting and social media marketing to Instagram content creation and working with hotels, I absolutely love that my job has given me the flexibility to explore all the avenues and opportunities that interest me. It’s funny, my career started in public relations then took a detour in advertising for years before I made the jump over to Style Me Pretty. As long and winding as the path seemed to me at the time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I use skills from each of those steps every single (crazy) day. I wish I knew that was going to be the case during my younger days—I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself!
What’s in your stylist’s emergency kit when you’re on location at a shoot?
What isn’t in my kit is the better question! I’m known to come to shoots with a box (or 20) of tricks. My car is always packed to the brim. I always try to come way over prepared, even when my desired outcome is something simple and clean.
Do you play music at home? Who are your favorite artists?
I’ve always been so incredibly moved by music, and that’s definitely thanks to my family. My dad used to play his guitar and sing us to sleep with songs by The Beatles when we were kids, and our family functions still revolve around an old-fashioned sing-along. That sounds super corny, but trust me, it’s so wonderful. I love folk, bluegrass, country—really anything that has a beautiful melody and heartwarming lyrics wins my sappy heart right over.
A cheese plate is basically a staple in our humble abode because they are messy and casual, yet try to be somewhat sophisticated all at the same time—kind of like us!
“I would gladly drop a pretty penny on !”
Any vacation. Travel is my favorite, and I feel so lucky that I happened to marry my favorite travel buddy in Andrew. It’s like hitting the life jackpot. There is nothing we love better than being in the airport, passports in hand, ready to tackle our next adventure. Being out of my comfort zone in a new culture might just be my favorite feeling in the world. I start to see things in an entirely new way. Even just a trip to another town we’ve never been to makes me forget all my worries and really live in the moment. Travel inspires me (and my work) more than anything else, and I love that my passion for travel has been mixing and mingling with work lately as well.
Stripes or polka dots?
Stripes all the way.
What were your goals when designing and decorating your office?
Keep it simple and manage the clutter. Clutter is my creative enemy. I work so much better when things are streamlined and simple. Mainly because, at any given time, I have a million ideas and thoughts floating around in this crazy brain of mine. Being able to keep things simple and organized at home allows me the freedom to let my brain run wild. Cool, calm colors and little nods to the ocean (like in this print from One Kings Lane) in my office allow me to breathe a bit when it seems like my to-do list is pages and pages long (because I’m old-school, and still write everything down).
What are your strategies for maintaining all of your pretty white furniture and textiles with such a large dog running around?
Slipcovers totally save the day. And white is actually so much easier to really clean thanks to bleach. But we also knew we didn’t want Otto on the couches (the bed? that’s another story) in case any of our guests didn’t like dogs (unthinkable, I know). So, we trained him not to jump up on the furniture when he was a puppy. And he’s pretty lazy during the day, so maintaining all that white is actually easier than it looks.
I also have a rule that things should never be too precious in my house. I want our house to be lived in. Everything can be washed or replaced. Most of my rugs are indoor/outdoor for that very reason. Nothing is too fancy not to use. I want people to come over with their dogs and their kids and not be worried about messing things up. I want people to linger longer than they planned because they are so comfy. I want them to have an extra glass of wine by the fire because they just can’t peel themselves away. That was ultimately my goal when designing every room—comfort and usability.
What TV shows are you obsessing over right now?
“The Crown.” Oh my, we just finished watching it, and I am already having withdrawals! We recently spent some time in London and the Cotswolds, and watching that show makes me want to pack up my wellies and jump right back on a plane to that fabulous country. I just love all the history.
What are your (and Otto’s!) favorite spots to visit around Rhode Island when you just need to get out of the house?
We love the Watch Hill and Weekapaug areas of Rhode Island. They are in the southern portion of the state, and off the beaten path a bit. Both are far less touristy than say Newport (which we also love). It’s also where Andrew and my love story started, so I suppose we are a little bit biased. But it’s simply gorgeous any time of year.
We also love Little Compton, Rhode Island. It has the funniest name because it’s actually the most quaint place in the world. Think: miles and miles of stone walls bordering acres of farmland leading into the ocean. It’s just heaven. Honestly, there are so many places in Rhode Island begging to be explored. We pinch ourselves on the daily that we actually get to live here.
Tell us everything we need for the perfect cheese plate!
My love for a delicious cheese plate knows no bounds. A cheese plate is basically a staple in our humble abode because they are messy and casual, yet try to be somewhat sophisticated all at the same time—kind of like us!
A great cheese plate obviously starts with great cheese, and a visit to our local cheese monger is kind of like my own version of Disneyland. It’s like a wild dairy-infused roller coaster for the senses. I always walk in with an open mind, and always walk out with a few new delicious cheeses to introduce to folks (or to devour on the ride home).
I like to layer in a few varieties of cheese from goat to sheep to cow (but La Tur is always a must-have for me), sprinkle in some savory and some sweet treats (nuts, pickles, prosciutto, fig jam, honey) and make sure there is plenty of yummy bread and crackers to complete the taste trifecta. Labeling the cheese and adding little descriptions is my next step so people know what they are digging into. That seems to help people be a bit more adventurous in what they are willing to try. And wine always helps with that, too!
Speaking of, what’s the best wine you’ve ever had?
Now, that’s a hard one! I’m actually not a huge wine snob. Most of the time, it’s really all about the experience. For instance, the same glass of bubbly tastes way better on the beach verses at my desk. A glass of red by the fire after skiing trumps one in the kitchen on a Tuesday. I fell in love with a certain Grüner Veltliner during our trip to Austria, and sometimes I’ll have it just to relive that amazing trip. I’m all about the nostalgia factor.
But in the summer, I always reach for a crisp sauvignon blanc (Cloudy Bay is a favorite) or a delicious rosé (I basically always have Whispering Angel or Miraval on hand). In the fall and winter, I love a good red (Stag’s Leap is one of my very favorites for a special occasion) and bubbly is great all year long and at any time, obviously. I’ll never turn down a glass of Veuve.
Being able to keep things simple and organized at home allows me the freedom to let my brain run wild. Cool, calm colors and little nods to the ocean…allow me to breathe a bit.
Imagine it’s your Sweet Sixteen. What’s the one piece of advice you wish that someone would impart to you?
Don’t be afraid to take big leaps. They will end up being your favorite steps. Trust your gut.
OFFICE: Beach Print // Desk // Wishbone Chair // Watercolor Prints // Gold Floor Lamp // Floral Pillows // Couch // Braid Painting // Bookcase // FAMILY ROOM: Pillows // Coffee Table // Chandelier // Paint Color // Jute Rug // LIVING ROOM: Dining Chairs // Wingback Chairs // Rug // Gold Tray // Couch // Hemingway Print // KITCHEN: Bar Stools // Glass Cake Stand // Marble Cheese Dome // MASTER BEDROOM: Chandelier // Bed // Chest of Drawers // Gold Curtain Rod // Custom Curtains // White Throw Pillows // Navy & Pink Throw Pillows // Paint Color // Gold Frames
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