On the Bright Side

Designer Katherine B. Melvin works with both first-time homeowners and seasoned collectors to put a fresh face on traditional style.

Katherine likes to use designer fabrics in small doses. The sofa lumbar showcases a pricey Bennison print on one side. To save money, the back is finished in a simple white linen. Photos by Jean Allsopp

No matter the age of my clients, they all want a fresh look,” says interior designer Katherine Melvin. “My younger clients already have the white sofa and the side tables. They are looking to invest in things that are going to last and can grow with them.” On the other hand, she says established homeowners look at design from the flip side. “They have built their collections and have pretty antiques. For them, it’s a refresh or a lightening up.” But no matter what angle Katherine comes from or what stage of design her client is in, she says it’s imperative to find balance with old and new. “Everything doesn’t have to be fine,” she says. “You want a mix that is inviting and approachable—something with a little patina and something that tells a story.” Three key words guide Katherine’s design decisions: context, function, and aesthetic. “You have to understand your client’s budget, what they have, and how they live,” she says. “It’s not just about making a space beautiful. The home and the design have to work for the client’s lifestyle.”

Katherine B. Melvin

Lightening Up

Katherine says her personal style leans towards a light, nature-inspired palette. “I love working with the colors you would find in an English garden—blues, greens, creams, yellows, and blush.”

• Invest in pieces that will last.
• For longevity and durability, opt for indoor/outdoor fabrics for upholstery.
• Mix in pieces that have a story and patina. “Things can still be fresh without looking too shiny or new,” Katherine says.
• Embrace brown furniture. Whether it’s antique, wicker, or rattan, brown furniture grounds a space and lends a natural feel to a room.

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Katherine says contemporary prints and groupings of vintage illustrations in pretty frames make a grand statement when designing on a budget.

• Complement the dark wood of antiques by painting walls in light hues.
• Simplify your space by getting rid of unused and under-appreciated items.
• Mix in modern accents and pieces with lighter finishes for a balance of styles and periods.
• Lighten up the space with airy linens and soft patterns in drapery and upholstery.

Katherine’s Favorite Local Shops

Circa Interiors & Antiques
Homewood Antiques
The Nest
Tricia’s Treasures
Unique Black Sheep

A little wallpaper, gingham cafe curtains, and new light fixtures go a long way (without a lot of cost) to revive a standard-issue 1950s bath.

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