With a professional artist for a mother and having recently founded AttikoArt, an exciting new online store for abstract art, it’s no surprise that Melissa Carla is an interior designer and entrepreneur with a keen eye for the aesthetic. Her innate sense of style is elegant and refined. She brings this clear direction to her projects, whilst still allowing room to reflect her client’s needs, influences and lives.
In this interview, we chat to Melissa about her top interior design tips, what home means to her and how she’d spend a perfect Sunday…
Is there a signature Melissa Carla look? If so, how would you describe it?
As a designer I have an undeniable passion for new, ever-evolving decorating trends, but I also adore timeless, classic design. I think my signature look is all about marrying the two together. I would summarise it as “a modern, fresh take on tradition.”
I like to use subtle, clean colour palettes to create relaxing spaces and I’ll often introduce accents of rich wood to create extra warmth. From there on it’s really about mixing styles, patterns and materials to create unique, eclectic finishes that work together. Placing a timeless, upholstered armchair alongside a contemporary wrought iron side table and finishing with a quirky cushion is a very exciting moment for me!
In terms of furniture, what design classics standout for you?
A stately armchair will absolutely do it for me, especially a button back! I love the elegance of the row upon row of covered buttons detail, and when you find the real deal with turned legs and brass castors, you’ve truly landed on a timeless piece. Nothing says “comfort” more than a fabulous armchair and a great one can instantly turn a house into a home.
What would be your top interior design tip for our readers?
That’s easy. My advice is even if you’re not an interior designer, plan like one! I know that sounds like a really boring tip. But seriously, considering your room as a whole and planning your ‘look’ (the optimum furniture layout for creating flow, the colours you want to introduce, the design style you like etc) and creating a mood-board – well, it genuinely is the best way to distil your thoughts and visualise the end result.
It’s easy to get swept up with a decorating project and to dash out shopping straightaway – but don’t do it before you’ve done your mood-board! It will stop you impulse buying and bringing stuff home that doesn’t quite work because it gives you a clear focus, in advance, of what you need.
What does home mean to you?
A home is where you live, so it should feel just that – liveable! It’s your safe place where you come back to relax, unwind and reboot. To me, a home must feel beautiful, but it must also be comfortable and personal to you. You need to be able to look around and feel as though it’s ‘you’, that you are surrounded by things that make you happy. Oh, and lighting – that’s a crucial part of my home too! Lots of natural light in the day and soft lighting for the evening, such as table lamps and candles, make it feel cosy and homely. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable in a starkly-lit room…
What are your three most treasured pieces?
A painting by my mum, Michelle Belak, (she is a professional fine artist, mostly known for her wonderful portraits). This particular painting is of the view over the mountains from our holiday home in Spain. It hangs in my bedroom and carries such happy memories, transporting me back there every morning when I wake up! (And the fact that it was painted by my Mum makes it even more special.)
A little footstool that I made out of a wrought iron plant pot holder a few years ago. I upholstered a seat in rough hessian and stencilled the word “Sit!” on it in a swirly copperplate script. It’s quirky and a bit bonkers – but I love it!
My photo cluster wall. I think that personal photos can be a bit of a design disaster sometimes because, too often, they get wedged unimaginatively in lines on mantlepieces or window sills, with no thought to styling. My solution is to cluster them together on my hall wall – old photos and new juxtaposed together, each one in a unique, and beautiful frame. They give a wonderful gallery feel and the display stops everyone in their tracks. No one can walk by it without passing comment!
A perfect Sunday is…
I like my Sundays to have a different rhythm from the rest of the week and I have to admit that my perfect Sunday isn’t your most imaginative! I love to wake up slowly with lots of cups of tea, and spend the afternoon with friends and family, tucking into some food.
There’s no substitute for the Great Sunday Lunch, but whether it’s an old-fashioned roast, brunch at a cosy café, or even a picnic in the park, I’m happy! And then, if the weather permits, I love a nice walk before heading home and relaxing for the evening. Personally, I don’t think that Sundays are the time for going to the gym, for cleaning the house, or for attempting any strenuous DIY! So I’d probably finish up with an early bubble bath before a good movie and then off to bed…
If you could choose one piece from Layer, what would it be and where would it live?
This vintage buffet sideboard is a gorgeous piece. I would place it in a spacious dining room or entrance hallway to provide some drama with that striking black finish. I’d add a nice tall table lamp to really set the mood, and group a couple of home accessories to style it up. The best part about this piece for me though is that it’s ideal for both storage and display use, so it would keep the room looking sleek and tidy! I just love it when beauty meets practicality…
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