House Tour: Mel’s New Place Makes Us Want to Declutter Immediately
Hi EHD readers, it’s Mel (EHD design alum) here to provide you with a tour of my new digs. Sidebar: My full name is Melanie Burstin and though my friends, my family, Emily, and everyone who knows me through all of these people (that’s you!) call me Mel, I feel like the internet needs proof of my full name. So, hear that internet? Anyway, we’re off topic already. Let’s get back on track.
About nine months ago, everything in my life changed. No, I did not have a baby (just a coincidence with the amount of time it took me to finish my apartment) but, I did change my life in pretty much every other way a woman can. First, I said goodbye to being a designer at Emily Henderson Design and went off on my own. I have my own firm, my own clients, and I have time to work out at 8 am instead of 6 am. I’m running things solo but I’m also an agency designer with Homepolish which means I have a wonderful team (most of them in New York) supporting me in any way I need. I am so lucky that the moment I was about to jump into having my own business, Homepolish was like, “We like you, can we hold your hand while you do this?”
Okay, so I got a new job, but there’s definitely more. My long-term relationship ended, and therefore, I wanted to move/was suddenly living by myself for the first time in my life, and I finallyyyy got the dog I have not stopped talking about wanting for the last eight years. Flash forward these few months and everything has worked out so perfectly! My ex and I are still really close friends, my dog Moose is everything I’ve ever dreamed of, my business is thriving and I’m in an awesome relationship that is making me very happy. Oh, and lastly, my new apartment is super cozy and cute. Want the details? Let’s go…
First off, here are a few befores of the space (living room, dining room, bedroom) before I moved my stuff in:
Since I’m not insane, I have to say I love bright white oak floors and natural light! These two things are what sold me on this apartment. The second I walked in, I knew this was the place. The layout was also similar to my first apartment in Silverlake and that made me feel comfortable which I definitely needed at the time. I was also so excited about the light cabinets in the kitchen—they were practically begging for all my Japanese pottery.
Let’s start with my favorite space in the apartment: the dining room. This window is everything! Unfortunately, though, I’m on the first floor and struggle with privacy a little. So I enlisted a good friend and we added some self-adhering privacy film to the lower section. Now, I’m hidden from the street but the view of my cute little neighborhood and my precious natural light are not obstructed. If you remember my last apartment, you’ll notice from the above photo that I kept quite a few things. I am still painfully in love with my Muuto dining chairs from Finnish Design Shop. So much so that my new dining table is from Finnish Design shop, too! I wanted something round as it’s a pass-through space and I thought it would be fun to continue to play with angled legs since I’m already doing it with the chairs. My life-size Jenga is still front and center (“life-size” as in how “Life Size Barbie” was a really big version of Barbie but not exactly human-scale, just…bigger). And I kept my Noguchi pendant light to boot. One thing I seriously struggle with as a designer is how to refrain from putting a Noguchi light in every room.
Art wise in this nook, I hung a vintage watercolor that happens to be the only thing in the last year and a half I have found at the Rosebowl. I think it’s a really fun juxtaposition with this sculptural tree from Sanso, which is a plant store located in Frogtown, LA’s hippest new neighborhood. They specialize in gorgeously pruned plants and minimal pottery. In this photo, you’ll also see another of my prized possessions: a handmade bowl I use for two of my favorite foods; cherries and olives (it has a little compartment to catch pits). It’s like a motorcycle with a side car if the side car was for pits!
On to my living room and the sofa I designed and custom made with Clad Home about a million years ago. I spend 90% of my time on this sofa. I work on this sofa, I watch TV on this sofa, I smother my dog on this sofa. Ladies and Gentleman, let me formally introduce you to the love of my life, Moose Burstin. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sorry (because all I do is post videos of her now). She’s from the streets of Tijuana and rescuing her was something I really wanted. I knew adopting would be way more challenging than buying a puppy that fit my aesthetic perfectly, but I wanted my love to save something in need rather than perpetuate an industry I may not 100% be okay with (I grew up with a purebred Portuguese Waterdog who was amazing though!). I decided I’d find it difficult to purchase a dog birthed just for me when there are so many that already needed homes, so off to the shelters I went. Though Moose is from the streets, she has a very regal demeanor and beautifully models our throw pillows. I love this mustard velvet one I found on Etsy (have you been reading my Etsy roundups?), it perfectly complements a pillow from one of my favorite brands Blockshop. I love a good ethical brand that gives back to the community it uses to produce it’s goods. It’s also a very cute and comfortable pillow. I was lazy with my draperies and just kept the curtain rod my landlord had installed and used simple IKEA sheers for privacy.
With the coffee table, I really struggled to find something I loved. Eventually, I gave up and did something that was kind of bad…I had one custom made by a local carpenter that pretty much copied a vintage one I missed out on, and also couldn’t afford. I think this is in bad form but, I did it anyway? I couldn’t stop thinking about the one that got away. For the chairs, I splurged and found an amazing vintage pair and had them shipped from Denmark. I love how minimal and yet curvy they are.
For the rug, I decided to go a little bolder than I normally would (we all know I love a neutral knotted number) and used this rug from Loloi. It adds pattern to an otherwise solid space and it’s really soft. The lamp is from one of my favorite brands named Hem. It’s unfortunately not available in the US just yet but it should be next month! I love Hem because their designs are really simple but surprisingly punchy. Their price points are also manageable and fair.
Now onto one of my favorite design details…art! If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that art is really important to me. It’s how I started my design career after all. The piece over my sofa is by one of my favorite artists, Geoff Mcfetridge. I had wanted a piece by him for so long but I couldn’t find any that were available. That is until Exhibition A did a limited run of prints where each one was hand-embellished. I believe the illustration of the man is a print and then each one of 50 has a unique fauna painted over it. I set an alarm for 5 am release day and was desperately trying to decide which one I wanted while half asleep! The other two prints are by Benjamin Ewing, another artist I’ve been following for a while. I’m so surprised there are still some available!
On the other side of my living room, you’ll notice I kept another of my prized possessions. My custom bookcase from Hedgehouse Furniture. The vibes of my old space and new space are really different so the functionality of this piece had to change. My last apartment had a massive living room with a huge view and we decided to set it up more formally; no TV, just gorgeous accessories and a view of the reservoir. This time, my living room is much smaller (and cozier which I love), so my bookcase needed to be used more functionally. I mounted a TV over it and used the large piece to balance my heavy sofa. I then filled the shelves with pottery so I can be extra stimulated while watching TV.
I also tried to up my ambiance game by getting a vintage record player and these awesome speakers. My boyfriend is a music aficionado so once I mentioned I wanted a record player, he made sure my sound quality was up to snuff. We looked at a bunch of speakers and landed on these because they checked off my aesthetic requirements and his sound requirements (they can be both bluetooth and analogue)! I like that they make my accessories feel a little more masculine.
Here, you’ll see a close up of some of my favorite possessions. Insanely cool candlesticks from my trip to Japan last year and of course, lots and lots of Blake Beaudette Pottery. On the bottom right you’ll see one of my most-loved pieces he ever made me. And then front and center we can see his new work. He’s learned how to use a lathe and now turns wood bases for his pieces. I. Am. Obsessed. Initially, I was supposed to just borrow these for my shoot but of course, the second they were styled, I texted him that they were definitely mine forever now. He’s the best and let me keep everything I wanted. The purse on the closet door is from one of my best friends. I watched her dog when she went to Bali last year so it was a thank you gift.
The layout of my apartment feels very typical of 1960s Echo Park/East LA. You open my door and you’re smack dab in the middle of my living room. Now that I have a dog, I cannot tell you how much I dream of a proper foyer so I can have some personal space when accepting deliveries, etc. Speaking of having a dog, I needed somewhere to hide her paw wipes and leash, so I scoured the internet for months for a vintage cabinet that was narrow enough to work as an entrance piece. I think it would have felt claustrophobic if it came out too far and you’d have to walk around it when entering the space.
On top, you’ll see a lamp by Victoria Morris, one of my favorite lighting designers. I want every single lamp she makes. You’ll also see more pottery from Blake and a bowl I got in Japan. The glaze is so gorgeous in person—come over and see it. The print is from Poster Club and was in my gallery wall at my last apartment. I’m super interested in hearing what you guys think about me reusing so much. Is it interesting to see how I can style the same pieces differently or do you wish I just started with a clean slate?
Onto the bedroom! Every guest of my home that sees my bedroom (often snooping on their way to the bathroom) says it inspires them to want to get rid of all of their stuff. I mean…okay! Not my intention but I’m not mad at it. I really wanted my bedroom to feel like a retreat. I can easily succumb to stress and anxiety so I needed this room to be really relaxing. For me, that means a less is more approach.
The bed is from my favorite team at Hedgehouse again. They are truly the nicest humans ever, and they make insanely good furniture. We started by looking at a few of the beds they already make and then tweaked them. I, of course, wanted the bed to feel Japanese so we decided on this very low to the ground number. I love the look of the white oak with a tucked-in duvet. My bedding—vintage linen in greige from Matteo—is pretty old. It was the first nice thing I ever bought for my home (aka a shared apartment I had with my best friends quite a few years back). I love that the linens are simple but add some warmth by being an off-white tone.
In this room, I really paid attention to my draperies because I’m a sensitive sleeper. I went for the West Elm Double Rod so I can have sheers for privacy and then blackout for bedtime. My bedroom is elevated off the ground so I have more privacy from the street which is nice. The blackout drapes are from Pottery Barn, and I had my tailor take them up a little.
I switched out my ceiling light again and this time went for the Dusk Lamp from Hem. I had been on the hunt for something incredible and vintage for months but couldn’t find anything just right. Then the week before my shoot, I went to a Hem pop up, fell in love and couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this light before!
On one side of my bed, I’ve opted for a super cute low table as a nightstand. I do miss having storage but for the piece to feel low enough for my bed, I felt I had to ditch the drawer. I paired it with a vintage sconce from Amsterdam Modern that I put on a dimmer because I love mood lighting before bed.
I’m not really a fan of mixing nightstands so I decided to only have one to make room for plant life. This tree again is from Sanso. It feels like a piece of art the way they added that stick of bamboo. The pot is from Hawkings New York who has a beautiful store at Row DTLA.
Across from my bed, we have Moose’s bed. It’s from The Wolf Nest and is handmade from locally sourced deadstock fabric in Los Angeles. My favorite thing about this bed—and really all their products—is that the materials they use are so gorgeous that everything just looks like a chic floor cushion rather than a pet accessory. Above Moose’s bed, I’ve hung some art. The bottom piece is by an amazing Australian artist named Hugh Caughey. I actually have quite a few pieces by him (including the two next to my bed!). My favorite works in his collection are line drawings in neutral tones on soft papers. The piece on the top right of my gallery wall below is also his.
On the back of my bedroom door, I have a mirror from Target (that’s no longer available, unfortunately) so I can inspect my amazing fashion choices before going to meetings and dinners. I then added a stool from Japan and a gallery wall so if I ever feel so inspired to post a mirror selfie, I’ll have cute art in the background. The pieces on the top and bottom left are by Patrice Dworkin. She’s an incredible artist who’s use of texture and thin lines really inspire me. The top piece is an offshoot of her current series about the bluffs along the PCH. The piece to the center of it is by The Fourth Artist, a collaboration between Patrice and Jackie Leishman, and is a print from their Calabasas project. “Utilizing cut and torn paper, fabric and collage, painting and drawing, they create abstract imagery focused on women’s issues and the lives of women artists.” They are seriously cool. The largest piece in this gallery is a solo work by Jackie. I love her use of color! Lastly, we have an intaglio print of a shell by an old friend of mine, Amy Elizabeth Harper. Her process is fascinating if you want to learn more about intaglio printmaking.
And lastly, here’s a little vignette from my kitchen. The bowl is vintage, the vase that holds my spoons is by Blake Baudette and my vintage T-Shirt is my favorite thing I’ve ever found at a flea market. Do you remember when Emily took the whole team to the Round Top flea market in Texas? That’s where this dog piece is from. Emily was sifting through a stack of these (that I previously ignored) and she decided they were cool enough to purchase a few. I fell in love with them after that and asked her if it was okay to copy her!
Thanks so much everyone for checking out my home tour! All photos are by the awesome Tessa Neustadt because she’s my friend and I really like her photography. I hope you enjoyed it and like all my cute little details. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this year pans out. xx Mel and Moose
***Hey designers! Got a project in the LA area that you’re really proud of, hasn’t been previously published, and you think our readers would love? Send us some scouting shots and a little detail about the project to firstname.lastname@example.org.