House Tour: Melissa and Matt's Design Lab

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Name: Melissa & Matt
Location: Riverwest
Size: 550 sq/ft
Years lived in: 1

Remember this room?

Submitted to our Fall Colors Contest ’06, Melissa and Matt’s high contrast, navy blue and yellow bedroom caught our eye. We were intrigued by the unusual combination of colors so skillfully used - we wanted to see more and we weren't disappointed...

This house tour of the compact home of Melissa, Matt and Jacques proves that the entire space is upbeat, engaging and well composed - it didn't come as a surprise when we found out that Melissa is currently a design student with a day job at a DWR studio.
Photos by Evan Thomas

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The space is challenging; a long and narrow main living area with the bathroom, bedroom and office lined up along one side. Melissa's use of furniture, art and object groupings help to break up the space and makes for bite-sized sections to look at and enjoy one at a time.

Melissa and Matt pull off a mix of high and low with ease. The Eames compact next to the inexpensive side tables works, and the entire space shows that DWR and IKEA are both worthwhile sources for a modern apartment.

The (admirable) lack of clutter and smart use of attractive, open storage pieces make their necessary belongings (books, clothing, etc.) part of the decor in a very successful way.

Melissa calls this apartment her "design laboratory", a good way for all of us who love design to think about our homes - as places to feel free to try ideas, stretch our imaginations and experiment!

Melissa's Survey:

our Style: Our style is really based on what the space will allow. This apartment presents design challenges that other apartments have not. Our style seems to evolve out of those challenges. Some things that never change are the sentimental objects that remind us of friends and family, our travels and good times. Trying to make those things fit into the space we’re living in usually dictates the overall aesthetic. Also, because I’m an interior design student, I use our space as a design laboratory. I like to try a lot of different techniques and experiment in my own home to see how well my ideas translate to the real world.

the Inspiration : Right now I have a piece of artwork that was given to me by a dear friend and it makes me absurdly happy. It’s the perfect combination of shapes and colors. I swear if the place was burning to the ground I’d grab my man, my dog and that painting.

favorite Element: My string bass. I played intensely from the age of ten through 18 and somewhat in college. While it makes me sad to see it spend most of its time leaning in the corner of my apartment, it’s a great reminder to one day pick it up again.

biggest Challenge : Far and away the limitations of the furniture arrangement. No lie, Matt and I like our TV. Because of this, there’s only one way the furniture can be arranged. The main space is also about three times as long as it is wide. I’ve tried to do a lot of things to keep it from feeling like a bowling alley and to give the eye several places to land before hitting the end of the room.

what Friends Say: They usually think it’s pretty nice. I get a lot of comments about the lack of clutter.

biggest Embarassment: By far our sad, sad bathroom. There’s no space, no storage and it’s just a nightmare. We mostly keep that door closed.

proudest DIY: I made all the pillows in the space. A couple of years ago I got really into felt and just started making these scenes and trying to do things differently on the front than on the back – telling little stories and what not. They provide a nice, soft visual that I think works well in our home.

biggest Indulgence: Most recently, my Eames Sofa Compact. I acquired it under very “cosmic” circumstances – i.e. I told someone I wanted one and they said, “oh, I have a friend that’s selling one”. Sight unseen, it was delivered in beautiful condition and in a very livable upholstery. I know I will always have it. It’s the best small apartment sofa on the planet.

best Advice As related to design, probably just to stick with what you really love. A lot of people I encounter feel forced into certain rules, or just don’t have any direction so they get overwhelmed. They start to replicate something they’ve seen and end up with a space that they don’t like, much less one that inspires them. If you start with a feeling or an object that you like, and just keep it simple most people find they’re quite good at pulling it all together.

myDream Source: For “stuff” it’s a toss up between unicahome.com and Rotofugi. I don’t like too many things sitting around, but I absolutely adore my ReMent Japanese miniature refrigerator and my growing collection of politically conscious and downright hilarious plastic figurines. If we’re looking for well-designed and functional wares, we can almost always find it on Unica.

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Resources:

Living Area
Eames Compact sofa: Friend of a friend
Green End Tables: Urban Outfitters
Red Yarn Wrapped Stool: IKEA
Rocker: Tom Rock, DWR
Coatrack: Eames
Pillows: by Melissa!
Entertainment Unit: Magiker, IKEA


Dining Area
Decals: Blik
Stools: Last Minute, DWR


Kitchen
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco (won by Matt in the US Barista Championship)
Stainless steel cart: DWR
Painting: by Karen Combs of Nama Rococo
Storage Unit: Modular pieces from the Cubist line, DWR
Red Branch: Jayson Home and Garden
Wall Color: Winwood Spring by Behr


Office
Workstation: Elfa, Container Store
Task Chair: Herman Miller Caper in Sweet Corn
On the Monitor: Jacques
Wall decor: Blik decal cut and trimmed/used as stencil by Melissa
Paint stripe color: Pewter Rug by Behr
Bean bag: Fatboy
Side table: Cubist, DWR
Rug: Flor tiles


Bedroom
Bed:Pine bed from IKEA painted by Melissa
Headboard Panels: Made by Melissa from MDF panels wrapped with yellow velvet
Custom dress form: Jo-ann Fabrics
Silkscreen Print: Amos Kennedy, JR.
Wardrobe storage: Stolmen system, IKEA
Storage bins: Me Boxes


Bathroom
Medicine Cabinet: IKEA
Octopus Hanger: IKEA
Clock: Unica Home

(Thanks, Melissa, Matt and Evan!)

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Janel Laban is the Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy and has been working here, at the dreamiest of dream jobs, since March 2006.

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