Is there anything more inspirational than having a peek through the home of a celebrated interior designer? Working to their own brief and personal style, it’s often the quickest way to dissect whether their aesthetic is on par with what you want for your own home. When it comes to Melissa Marshall, we can all undoubtedly agree that her classically-styled home is a reflection of her talent in more ways than one…
As a mother to two girls (with twins on the way!), her beautiful home is a lesson in both style and practicality. Tufted ottomans and textured stools are as useful for jumping as they are for sitting, while the perfectly made beds complete with coordinating linen are an invitation for play-time rumbles and family cuddles as well as a good night’s sleep. “A home that can truly be lived in is a well-designed home. Keeping everything minimal and everything having a place is how you keep a home organised and functioning well… You can lie on the sofas and the kids all lie on the ottomans, while having 10 adults at the dining table for dinner. All the doors open and kids running in and out of the pool, a home needs to have a relaxed vibe, you don’t want people to feel they can’t sit on the sofas.” It’s this relaxed yet considered approach to interiors that make her growing family’s home so appealing. We caught up with Melissa recently to talk homes, style and how less is more when it comes to all aspects of interior design – yes – even kids’ rooms… Photography by Grace Kyo.
Describe the aesthetics of your new home?
This house was originally owned and built by the church almost 100 years ago. We have great old photos of the house with its long driveway and grass tennis court. It’s since been sub-divided however the house had some historical elements that I wanted to keep and the architecture of a home is very important to me. As with every new project I try to take from the architecture of the house and bring it into the interior space. It has high ceilings and a lot of sandstone so I embraced those elements and in keeping with used natural finishes such as limestone, tumbled marbles and wide timber floorboards and kept with a fairly neutral palette when it came to the furniture. I would say it’s a classic and comfortable aesthetic.
Do you find your interior style changing over the years or has it been consistent?
My style is fairly timeless, with every new project I want it to be unique and different as is every client and I try to bring out something new with each collaboration with the client. I wouldn’t say my style changes though , I would definitely say it is always evolving. I’m not into “trends” and I wouldn’t want to feel I was designing to a particular time or era as such.
What are some of your favourite pieces of furniture in your home.
My Italian Murano chandelier I bought in New York, I knew exactly what I wanted for the foyer and it took me a little while to find the exact one that was the right size and colour. Also the pedestal table that was custom designed to be under the chandelier. It’s solid limestone and a one off piece by a sculpture in Melbourne called Den Holm. Another favourite is an antique dining table I use as a desk, I work from it in our living room, it was my husband’s dining table he grew up eating around as a child.
As an interior designer is it hard to stop changing and adding things in your home, how do you know when to stop?
I don’t. I’m always moving things around. When you’re sourcing new pieces all the time, sometimes I can’t help have them end up in my own home. It’s my absolute passion, if I stopped doing it myself I would worry I was over it!
Tell us about your girls room, how do you come up with a space that encompasses your taste and style and inevitable whimsy childhood space?
My daughter Romy was very into a book on the amazon jungle at the time so she wanted a jungle themed room, I found a parrot lamp and I love leopard print, it’s such a fantastic neutral, so when I found the pale blue leopard linen I just went from there. I think it’s important to keep children’s rooms simple, not too many colours, they acquire so many things that the simpler the better…and it always looks tidier!
What are pieces you always splurge on, or save on?
Investing in good seating is always a good idea. Sofas, dining chairs, armchairs.
Where do you find inspiration?
What is the last item you bought for you home?
My dining chairs which arrived in January were my latest purchase, currently here though it was the oval custom ottoman I upholstered in sheep’s wool for my foyer. It’s so textured the girls sit and read and play on it.
Where are some of your favourite places to source furniture and homewares from?
I usually buy the majority of furniture in LA, London and Paris. I love Anna Charlsworth lighting and The Vault in Sydney is full of interesting pieces.
How do you deal with the mess and clutter kids bring to living spaces?
I’m all about the less is more philosophy, I’m always going through the girls clothes and toys and culling. Also having large wicker baskets in living rooms and in the girls room with lids helps. And always tidying up before bed, I like to wake up to a clean house, it’s something I’ve always done and helps when you need to be organised or I have meetings at home the next day.
Texture and colour are having a moment in homes and design, what are the best ways to incorporate them into existing spaces?
When it comes to colour, I love collecting art and sculptures and items that can be moved around. I’m not a huge fan of bright colours for large staple items such as sofas as I feel they can date quickly. I do love different textures though even if everything is neutral with not a lot of colour, texture is everything. I also just painted my dining room a soft subtle green, everything else in the room is very neutral it has really enhanced the existing pieces of furniture. Also ceramics and vases are easy ones for quick results with colour. And of course fresh blooms!
Over-styled homes can often lack warmth, how do you achieve the fine balance of a beautiful but lived-in space?
A home that can truly be lived in is a well designed home. Keeping everything minimal and everything having a place is how you keep a home organised and functioning well. Such as having a well designed and organised kitchen is paramount to easy entertaining. My house is always full of people, I am constantly entertaining friends and family and my house is completely designed around that. You can lie on the sofas and the kids all lie on the ottomans, while having 10 adults at the dining table for dinner. All the doors open and kids running in and out of the pool, a home needs to have a relaxed vibe, you don’t want people to feel they can’t sit on the sofas.