Jessica | Ideas & Inspiration Consultation
Melanie came to our place to provide a 2-hour consultation on our dining room. It is a room with numerous limitations and is very awkward. For the 3+ years we've been in this house, we have been trying to figure out how to make it work, and we just knew we were out of our depth.
Having Melanie come over was the smartest thing we've done, and well worth the investment. Melanie was able to see us within about a week and a half, right during her busy season. That wasn't because it was easy, but because she knew how urgently we wanted to see her, and she worked hard to fit us in, keeping in communication with us about the scheduling piece all along. She showed up exactly on time and totally prepared. She had read the info I sent her ahead of time and was really appreciative of the time I had put into preparing us for the visit. I felt really comfortable with Melanie right from our first phone conversation. I am sensitive to really strong personalities and can get withdrawn if I feel nervous about being judged.
Melanie was so positive, friendly, warm and easy to talk to, I never felt afraid to say what I thought. At the same time, she is honest. She just has that gift for being very tactful and sensitive in how she expresses her opinions. And she was also so professional that she was able to keep us really on-task and focused with grace instead of coming off like she didn't care about anything but the job at hand. She was genuinely a fantastic listener and communicator. She picked up immediately on the things that were really important to us — like our kids being able to reach and explore our wall map — and made sure to incorporate all those ideas into the plan.
Basically, we talked and played around with different ideas, and we literally moved and changed the furniture around, even borrowing pieces and plants from the next room, to get the feel for what we wanted. Little by little, we get greater and greater clarity about what was and wasn't working, and how to fix it. Melanie went so far as to get up on a chair and move our very heavy, dusty chandelier, over to the proper location on the ceiling, to let us stand back and visualize the difference it would make. She was super immersed in our challenge — in getting the details right and working together. She also was fantastic at communicating the overarching design concepts in a really accessible way — how we needed to create more balance in the room, how difference pieces add visual weight, etc. She was very clear-headed about what needed to change.
At the same time, the understanding was developing organically through all of us — it's not that she came in and told us what to do. She followed our lead on what we knew we wanted, but brought all the knowledge, experience, and perspective we lacked. She had actually woken up early that morning thinking about the photos I sent her, and it lead her to bring a "prop" — a stylish fruit-holding centerpiece for the table with faux apples inside. I know this sounds a little crazy, but when she put that on the table it actually changed the whole feel of the room. It was the finishing touch that allowed us to see the potential of the space, and have a concrete idea for how to create that look.
Another thing I really liked about Melanie was that she was very grounded in reality and real-life living. For example, at one point, the idea was raised of whether foot traffic into the house could shift to another nearby door instead of going through the dining room. I was entertaining it in my mind, feeling tempted to consider it, and even mentioning to her how a previous owner had probably used that door, because of all the coat hooks near there. But it was an idea that didn't make sense for real life because it was totally unrealistic that we would go the longer way into the house. And she knew that and immediately, gracefully pinpointed why that idea wouldn't fly. She gets that things will follow the path of least resistance, and that your plan for your house has to be grounded in what really works, day-to-day, not what *should* work.
Melanie also really appreciated the kid-related side of our challenges and needs, and that was one thing that made me feel most comfortable with her. She has a child not much older than ours, and she was really able to (a) relate to, and validate, some of the crazy things that need to be done to make a house with small children work and be safe, and (b) also help us to imagine how things will change over the next few years. It is really hard for us to visualize our kids' needs being different two years from now, and she was amazing at helping us keep that in mind and understand what decisions that would affect. We came up with a plan that works for now, with high chairs and very little kids, but also will work once our kids are sitting in their own chairs at the table.
This was my first time meeting an interior design person, and I had a couple misgivings. I thought they might be stuck-up and unable to relate to those of us who don't have an eye for interior design — my husband and I have made some pretty awful decor choices! Melanie never made us feel judged for our design indiscretions, or even for things that WE like, but know that most other people may not. Secondly, I expected there to be issues with conflict of interest. But there absolutely was not!
She never once brought up companies or referrals as if she was trying to send business to friends. And she worked with what we had and the fact that we didn't have tons of money to throw at our dining room, instead of working up an extravagant plan that involved ripping stuff out and changing everything. In the end, I think we'll be spending less money than I imagined on this, and that's because she had lots of great ideas that will make a huge impact without blowing tons of money.
Melanie brought a folder with notepaper for us to use, and as soon as she left, I wrote down what we discussed. Now we have a clear, specific plan (with, for example, names of paint colors, websites to check out, and of course, all the big decisions made), and we are STOKED to get to work! I will definitely be recommending Melanie to friends and family. She went above and beyond and was extremely well-suited to her line of work. If you are feeling overwhelmed or confused about a design issue, you will finish your meeting with her feeling relieved and re-energized to make your house awesome.