Nesting Instincts

An interior designer downsizes to a College Hill charmer without sacrificing any style


When Michelle Cortizo of Cortizo Interiors LLC, and her husband Jorge, became empty nesters, they decided to downsize from their Canton, Massachusetts, home to swap acreage for less maintenance. While Boston seemed “busy and expensive,” Providence and an historic house on College Hill felt like just the right size. The pair fell for an 1850s clapboard home with features like two brick fireplaces, nine-and-a-half foot ceilings, wide plank floors, and an eat-in kitchen.

“Manageability and walkability played a key role in our choice,” says Michelle. This change of scenery also sparked some liberation in Michelle’s personal design scheme. “Two things I thought I’d never have: a mural, An expansive wallpaper mural based on Dutch Masters artwork creates a stunning backdrop in the living room and so many flowers in a room,” she begins. “For some reason, at this point of my life and our history, feminism is speaking loud and clear in my home.” The mural to which she’s referring is an expansive Dutch Masters rendering of flowers, purchased from JF Fabrics in Canada; there is also a ticket from the Women’s March proudly displayed on her desk. “I believe a home should have a sense of history but should also function and reflect the world you live in. Your home should tell your story.”

Michelle describes her style as Traditional Chic, offering that she likes a mix of relaxed and elegant, old and new, with no clutter. “Editing has always been a part of how I curate my home. I believe you should only live with what you love and need. Everything should speak to you visually and if it doesn’t, then it should be edited.” She also notes that every home she has ever lived in has been very different, and setting informs her choices. “Each has been a reflection of the architecture of the home, of course, but also where I am in my life and how I see things.”

Constants in Michelle’s designs are the use of color, fabrics, and lighting. “Lighting is the mother of enhancers: No matter what house I’m in or the style I’m emphasizing, every light is on a dimmer. From living spaces to bookcase interiors and bathrooms – dimmers!” says Michelle, who also notes that she indulges in filling her home with flowers, music, and the daily burning of candles. “I don’t wait for special occasions because you can never be sure if there will be another one. Every day is special so why not celebrate daily?”