Matt & Mel’s Animated Home in Virginia

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Name: Matt and Mel
Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Size: 816 square feet
Years lived in: 10 mos; Renting

Is it ever the case where you visit the home of designers and find that their space isn’t the coolest one on the block, filled with creative design and a beautiful harmony of eclectic trinkets? Never! And the graphic home of designer and animator Matt and Mel is thankfully no exception. The couple’s warm and bright home greets you at the door with bold color choices and invites you to stay awhile and enjoy all the animated toys along the way.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

The couple’s living room opens up to a wonderful melange of geometric shapes—triangles, circles, ovals—and saturated colors—turquoise, lime green, fuscia, and orange. A bold piece of art showing the tattooed back of a man looking into a lime green void immediately pulls your eye.

In just under a year they turned what could have been an average suburban home into a fun adult space that encouraged comfort and playfulness. Both Matt and Mel have a fondness for anime, cartoon-like characters, and miniature figurines, which dot shelves and tables in the living room, kitchen and office. Their unique mid-century style speaks to their designer’s eye for detail, color, and placement. The smaller space allowed for Matt and Mel to instantly have a cozy feel while still achieving an open space with all of the natural light from windows close by.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: We’re both really into a lot of similar artists, movies, and music. A lot of their visual work plays heavily into our style be it colors, aesthetic, tone, etc. We also like hints of humor hidden here and there.

Favorite Element: For as small as our place is, the floor plan works exceptionally well. The open kitchen and living room layout is great for entertaining.

Biggest Challenge: Probably working with the square footage. It’s our first place together and the combined square footage of our previous apartments were about twice the size of this house. So we both had to downsize quite a bit. But it actually worked out quite nicely because we both ended up picking out and combining our favorite pieces, along with a few new ones.

What Friends Say: The two comments we get the most are, “This place is so you guys!” and, “Come design our place/tell us what colors to paint our house.” Although we’re certain we could only design another place with our specific aesthetic.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably how much Ikea furniture we have. But, hey, we’re not rich and we’ve modified some things like getting custom legs made for the sofas to make them feel a little more unique. Also my TV, it’s way too big. I am sorry.

Proudest DIY: Unlike most rentals, our landlords let us paint, and we spent a week of very lat nights after work painting every wall… because we’re crazy. I built a kegerator for my homebrewing, and Mel’s been nice enough to let me fit it in our tiny space. Mel also repainted a small dresser she’s had since childhood, which we use as a stand for my record player as well as extra living room storage.

Biggest Indulgence: Eames chairs for the dining room. Although, I found them for a bargain on craigslist. Also the various paintings and screenprints we’ve both collected over the years, of which we have plenty more waiting in storage for when we get a bigger place.

Best Advice: Plan your space out if you can before moving in. We saved a lot of hassle by making a floor plan and measuring all our furniture beforehand. Also, don’t be afraid of gray walls if you have a lot of artwork or other accents.

Dream Sources: It would be amazing to one day commission custom furniture from a skilled carpenter.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Resources of Note:


  • Kitchen/Dining Room – Glidden DUO #MSL126 Martha Stewart Living
  • Sunken Pool, and Glidden DUO #MSL125 Martha Stewart Living Lagoon
  • Living Room – Behr Anonymous 780F-5
  • Bedroom – Glidden DUO #MSL118 Martha Stewart Living Aegean Blue
  • Office – Behr Sparrow 780F-4, and Behr Citron 400B-4
  • Sofas – IKEA Karlstad, leather, Grann dark brown with custom legs purchased from UncleBobsWorkshop on Etsy
  • Pillows – Ugly Doll, Urban Outfitters, utilitarianfranchise on Etsy, grey pillow and pink mountains are DIY
  • Shelves – IKEA Expedit with baskets from Target
  • Dresser – DIY of Mel’s childhood dresser, repainted
  • Stereo – Craigslist with eBay components
  • Rug – FLOR tiles, design by Mel
  • White End Table – Crate & BarrelGoodwood
  • Green End Table – Urban Outfitters
  • Round entryway table – eBay
  • Stools – Overstock
  • Bench – Urban Tastes DC
  • Baskets below bench – Vintage, repainted by us
  • Plant stand – vintage
  • Green lamp – Anthropologie
  • Art – Jordan Crane, Kyle Schatz, Celine Loup, Burmese tattoo needle, Guatemalan/Mayan deer masks

  • Dining table – IKEA Bjursta
  • Dining chairs – Eames Molded Plywood
  • Pantry – IKEA Aneboda wardrobe with added shelves
  • Kitchen island – IKEA Stenstorp/li>
  • Bar cart – IKEA RÅSKOG
  • Kegerator – DIY by Matt
  • Art – nateduval on Etsy, Banquet on Etsy

  • Bed – IKEA Malm
  • Dressers – IKEA Malm, and Target
  • Lamps – West Elm
  • Duvet – Anthropologie
  • Quilt – Kindl Correa (Matt’s Sister) kindscorner on Etsy
  • Ottoman – IKEA Karlstad leather, Grann dark brown with custom legs
  • Pouf – Fab
  • Art – Jordan Crane, Sasha Barr

  • Art – Jordan Crane, mcbess, Audrey Kawasai, Baltimore Print Studios, Brainstorm, Mel Todas, Becky Drestadt, Mel’s Great Aunt
  • Desks – IKEA
  • Desklamps – Pablo Pixo
  • Office Chairs – Cobi by Steelcase
  • Work bench – IKEA Stenstorp
  • Storage boxes – Container Store
  • Storage cart – IKEA RÅSKOG
  • Printer cart – IKEA
  • Bookshelves – IKEA Billy
  • White chair – Eames knockoff from eBay
  • Green end table – Urban Outfitters
  • (Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

    Thanks, Matt and Mel!

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