Hi Emily Henderson family, it’s Melanie Burstin (aka Mel of course), interior designer and EHD alum happy to be back with you again! What a year it has been. How are you? I hope you’re as okay as one could be with the state of the world, right? Anyway, I want to update you on my life because I need to introduce you to my new home!
I’m so grateful to (fingers crossed) be on the cusp of exiting this pandemic mostly unscathed (social skills TBD) and I’m also so thankful to have had work throughout this last year. Working through it definitely kept me sane, and it also gave me the opportunity to purchase my first piece of real estate! Which is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember.
An important part of growing up though is adjusting one’s expectations. So, though at this point in my life I’ve dreamed of having a gorgeous indoor-outdoor modern house with doors that open to a stunning pool, the reality of California prices means I needed to take some baby steps first. Baby steps that are truly awesome and in reality, the perfect next step for me. I am really grateful for where I am. Anywho, in real estate, there is this relatively new thing called a TIC (I believe Caitlyn’s discussed it in her last house hunting post) and though TICs are really only popular in San Francisco, they’ve started to enter the LA scene as well. And a TIC my friends, is what I bought.
In short, a TIC (Tenants in Common) is kinda similar to a Condo and kinda similar to a Co-op. Right now the TIC’s in LA are pretty much a single property made up of a scattering of bungalows. Everyone owns a percentage of the entire property with the rights to their own unit. It’s a bit confusing, but the point is, you can purchase a slice of LA at a potentially more accessible price point. I viewed a bunch of TICs on the East Side of LA and ended up with one I knew was mine all along. I had seen it, loved it, wasn’t really ready, saw others, took a friend back to see it, she kinda talked me out of it by accident, I decided to put an offer in on another, but then as I was typing up the offer I realized I knew this one was mine. I mean, I had been joking about the fact that it hadn’t sold yet because it really was mine. I had been doing floor plans in my head for months. So um yeah, it was always mine, and now it officially is thanks to a good old-fashioned loan!
My TIC is on a property with three bungalows. The first two are single stories and the third is two stories with my unit being the top floor. What I love about the space is that it feels like a private sunny treehouse. Every single room is drenched in sunlight. A lot of TICs have cute little yards between the units but I decided that privacy and light were paramount to me over a larger outdoor space. I feel I definitely made the right decision. I’ve noticed this for clients, and I definitely noticed it in myself but it’s so funny how our past places really delegate what we look for in our next homes. I needed more privacy- so the second story feels perfect.
Okay, enough real estate backstory right? Let’s start talking about DESIGN and FURNITURE! As you first walk up my charming stairs you land upon a small porch. I’ve decided to put a custom daybed in the corner here for Moose and I to curl up on to read, to listen to birds (there are so many birds over here), and to maybe occasionally have the perfect sunset glass of orange wine. Are you all impressed it took me so long before I mentioned the love of my life my dog Moose? Same. I had my handyman build me out the bench and then had outdoor cushions made as well. There’s been a foam shortage lately so I only had the bench for a bit and panicked that I had made the wrong choice as it felt enormous. But thankfully once the cushions were finished it felt right and cozy. My parents recently came to visit me (hadn’t seen them in over a year, thanks Covid) and so I enlisted my Dad to help me hang some string lights. Next up for out here will be some more accessories and definitely some plants. I’m starting with a blank color pallet out here knowing I’ll jazz it up. For now, though this is the most pulled together area.
Then as you actually enter the space you’ll see one large great room. To one side is my tiny tiny tiny tiny (did I mention tiny?) kitchen and on the other is where I’ve decided to put my living area. Before I even purchased the place I knew I wanted a corner sofa under the windows. That’s truly the only thing I was set on for a long time.
Anyway, let’s talk about the kitchen first. I love it, I mean white appliances and charm are all a girl needs, but, it’s really small. I need some more storage space (my dishes are currently just stacked on the counter) and I’d also love to have somewhere to hide my trash can. I have a thing about being able to see a trash can from your sofa, I wonder if it’s a feng shui thing. I’m pretty sure I’m going to add a small island on wheels here for dishes and a pull-out trash, but so far I haven’t found the perfect solution yet. I’ll most likely go custom but the reason I’m dragging my feet is because I also really want to change the faces of my cabinets. Yes, it is super charming and done well, but, I’m not really a farmhouse girl (as shown above). I definitely skew more modern or scandi. Wanna see a lazy/not great photoshop job of how I want to change them?
So then the issue is how to do that. My regular cabinet maker that I hire for client projects gave me a quote that was out of my budget. I mean, this is not a necessary change, this is just a designer wanting to change something for themselves that won’t really affect any type of resale value so I need to be smart about the costs of it. So now, this is where I am going to crowdsource… I am typically more of a buyer than a DIY-er but I think I’m going to have to get my hands dirty a bit. Any ideas? Comment below if you’ve refaced your own kitchen cabinets! When I first bought the place I was hoping the kitchen was Ikea since there are a bunch of companies that have fronts for their boxes, but alas, it’s not. I’m excited to show you my eventual solution in my reveal post in a few months, but also I’m more excited for one of your amazing readers to share this solution ha.
Another predicament for this space is that there’s no real area for a dining table. The front door is pretty close to the kitchen and then the hallway and door to the second bedroom mean there is no real nook or corner to throw a table into. For the first month I lived here I decided I was just going to skip having a table because I didn’t love how the floating table the stagers used felt, but now that I’m figuring out more of the space, I think I’m going to go off of some scandi inspo and just put a small table against the wall between my front door and sofa. Next step will be for me to memo a table from a local store and see if I like how it feels. This is definitely the most up in the air decision I have so maybe you’ll all be blown away in my reveal post when I have a dining table on a pulley system that comes down from the ceiling. I am definitely not going to do that but I also don’t really know what I am going to do. Now if this was a client’s house I would have decided a month ago and been 100% confident. But it’s definitely more challenging to be doing this for myself. Thankfully I’ve already left the ‘I need this to be done perfectly’ stage of this adventure and am now onto the ‘make it as me and happy and liveable as possible’ stage. We’re all lucky I’m writing this now and not then!
The Living Room
Okay, let’s talk about my living area and most importantly that I bought this place because of these windows. It is bright in here all day folks and they also provide an incredible cross-breeze situation. As I mentioned, I’m going to do a corner sofa under the windows, the exact design of which is almost decided but again, I am my pickiest client apparently. The one thing I know is that I’ll be making my sofa with Clad Home. Rosa Beltran, the owner, was one of my first mentors and I love that I have a place in LA where I can make any upholstery piece I dream up. I am very excited to share this final design with you. I’m guessing a lot of you will be running to get one for yourself! I’ve also designed a custom media cabinet that I am in love with that my carpenter should be installing in two weeks meaning I will finally start to see some progress soon! I haven’t settled on a coffee table yet and I cannot wait to place my art and pottery as the bigger pieces arrive.
The Main Bedroom
Next, let’s talk about my bedroom. Again, tons of light, it’s tiny and I love it! I have designed a custom bed frame (should also arrive in two weeks yay!) and found an awesome vintage dresser on Etsy. I must say I’m doing my usual of mixing vintage, new, and custom and it’s going to be great. I’m having a rug made from an Etsy shop in Turkey and got vintage lamps off Instagram. I am loving the influx of smaller Instagram vintage accounts; are you guys deep-diving there too? I’m going to keep all these exact design bits secret for a little bit so you can be surprised by my reveal but I’m shocked this room has come together so easily/quickly.
For my nightstands, I have found this dream pair by Domenic Fiorello Studio who’s based in Ohio. The nightstands are dare I say perfect? They must be inspired by vintage and yet they’re also streamlined and updatedly modern. If you recall in my last place I opted to pass on standard nightstands and though I loved it, I’m pretty excited to be able to keep my kindle in a drawer! (wow I live an exciting life). Okay back to Domenic Fiorello, they have so much stuff I love. I wish I had room for the coat rack (again perfectly modern and perfectly minimal), their dining table, what? They have so much good stuff. I highly recommend checking them out. After seeing the nightstands in person, let me tell you, they are beautiful and very high quality. I love finding studios like this who make everything by hand. You can really see the difference between pieces like these and more ready-made furniture.
The Second Bedroom/Office…Or Sample Library
Let’s talk about my second bedroom now, or should I say my ‘office’, or should I say my ‘sample library’. I am so excited to have the space to organize all my fabrics and wood blocks and paint chips and such. Under the windows, I’ve designed a custom corner desk that will be big enough for me to use a desktop computer and have pages of drawings open at the same time. It will also have some much-needed file storage to organize all my designs.
Now most importantly, what I really need in this room is a major storage situation and boy have I found one. I have found the most beautiful storage cabinet in the world. I am not exaggerating. My solution comes from a company called Reform CPH. I have finally found a company that not only brings good European designs to the US but they even have showrooms in Santa Monica and New York! They are the #1 place for sophisticated and accessible kitchens in my opinion and I can’t wait to do a full kitchen with them for clients one day soon.
For now, we’re focusing on a pantry meets office cabinet storage solution. Aesthetically I’ve decided to move forward with their basis line in the color mushroom + wood details and it feels very me. We’ve designed three cabinets with an extra special design detail that I think I want to leave as a surprise for now. Just know Reform is the best and you can customize pretty much everything. Not only am I going to have a way to finally organize everything but it’s also going to be beautiful to look at! And maybe have a cute way to display some of my enormous pottery collection (hint hint at the special design element). I cannot wait for this piece to be installed. Mostly because it will be so pretty, but also maybe because then there won’t be piles (albeit organized piles) of stuff on the floor of this room for the rest of eternity?
I do believe this brings us to the end of our tour and design introduction. It was super fun to share my ideas with you while still in the process of figuring out what I even want. I hope you enjoyed reading along, and I hope you have some ideas for my few tough spots! Follow me on Instagram and check back here in a few months for my reveal. I’m so excited to make this place my home.
xoxo Gossip Girl.
(anyone else my age constantly tempted to end every email with that sign off?)
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: House Tour: Mel’s New Place Makes Us Want to Declutter Immediately