Buy what you love: We do not see interior design as something that is “hot now” or “in vogue”. We are more interested in how a room makes you feel, the ambience it provides, and how the beautiful elements and details come together to create softness and the ultimate comfort — without sacrificing style and aesthetic. We want a home to feel like it’s an organic extension of your personal style and being. After all, when our design work is completed, the client has to live in the home.
As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Bodie.
Melissa + Miller Interiors is a highly-acclaimed, international design firm, specializing in bespoke, high-end interior design. With offices in London and Philadelphia, Melissa + Miller Interiors creates projects where comfort and functionality are as paramount as luxury and style. With a comprehensive knowledge of architecture, interiors, textiles, antiques, project management and custom design, the firm provides a hands-on service — for projects of all sizes and all across the globe — by creating the ultimate luxury spaces.
At the helm is co-founder and director, Melissa Bodie. Melissa was the Managing Director of Martin Brudnizki Design Studio and, prior to this, worked with both Nina Campbell and Martha Stewart in London and New York, respectively.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My mother was a home builder, so from an early age I was surrounded by blue prints (which are now obsolete) and meetings with architects. I would often walk through the sites and provide unsolicited design/architectural tips to my mother. When I was 8 years old, I suggested she move the placement of a staircase in a custom house; she heeded my suggestion, and was very happy with the results.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I worked for some of the best in the business: Nina Campbell, Martin Brudnizki, and Martha Stewart, to name a few. While differing in style and approach, the running thread amongst these design legends is attention to detail — the minutiae matters to the overall sense of how something looks and feels. And I remember trying to keep up: figuratively and literally. Nina Campbell, the doyenne of chintz and a major design legend, is a fast walker! From cruising Paris’s Maison & Objet with Nina to leading meetings with everyone from Chef Jamie Oliver to restaurateur Richard Caring with Martin Brudnizki, to styling a diamond photo shoot with several armed guards while at Martha Stewart Weddings magazine…it’s been such an education by the best in the business.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The list is so long. I definitely didn’t learn how to tie a ribbon properly until knee-deep styling on the set of a photo shoot for Martha Stewart Weddings. The “fake it ’til you make it” rule didn’t apply in this scenario. It was a mess.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
We created and launched our e-design service in 2020 which allows clients continued access to our firm’s high-end, custom interior design treatment from anywhere in the world. We package it in a way that is clean, cohesive and clear and our turnaround is quick because we know clients want fast results. More importantly, we’ve decided to use this initiative to give back, and have been donating a portion of our fees to Feeding America, NAACP and Black Artists + Designers Guild, to name a few. We continue to examine our role within the design business, reassessing the brands with whom we work and from whom we source. If there’s anything we learned from this past year, it’s that taking action counts! With that in mind, we are committed to helping move the industry forward by creating a community that recognizes and celebrates the rich diversity of talent and vision in design. That’s why we started our weekly Instagram series — Meet a Maker — where every Wednesday we feature a talented BIPOC/female artist, craftswoman, or designer who contributes to the beauty in this world. Plus, women supporting women — win!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is not a dress rehearsal.” My beloved grandfather, Herbert, had this sign hanging in his office for as long as I can remember. My mother gave me the sign when he passed away.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom and dad. Both set an expectation that kindness can triumph — in business and otherwise. “Always leave something on the table for the other person” was an expression by which my father worked. And my mom taught me balance and prioritization: she would walk up to my lacrosse games wearing a full power suit and heels, and then a hot rack of lamb was waiting at home for me after my match. I honestly don’t know how she managed.
Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Buy what you love: We do not see interior design as something that is “hot now” or “in vogue”. We are more interested in how a room makes you feel, the ambience it provides, and how the beautiful elements and details come together to create softness and the ultimate comfort — without sacrificing style and aesthetic. We want a home to feel like it’s an organic extension of your personal style and being. After all, when our design work is completed, the client has to live in the home.
- Buy from whom you love: By that, I mean buy with intention. Meet the artisans, makers and craftspeople. Their stories matter. For this reason, we started a Meet A Maker series on Instagram, where we feature a female/BIPOC artist or maker, to celebrate the rich diversity of design. To help with home accessories, we developed a Gift Guide including many of our makers.
- Be well: When it comes to interiors, one often hears “health and wellness” floating around. For us, we focus on mental health. Clients may ask themselves, “How does this room make me feel? Are the colors calming? Can I relax in this space?” We have already had clients ask us to create “zen zones,” or spaces to promote tranquility, peace and calm — within the home. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a grand meditation room build-out to have a slice of peace in your home. For our clients, we can create these personalized “zen zones”, or distinctive, clutter-free spaces to allow for a recharge. It could be as large as an entire meditation room or as small as a cozy corner in a bedroom. We appeal to all of the senses: we design a soothing lighting scheme with a calming color palette (sight), the addition of soft textures, fabrics and rugs with the coziest chairs and sofas (touch), beautifully-sourced candles and air diffusers (smell), and we can even organize playlists (sound). We think carefully about color, especially those that promote peace and tranquility in the home: light blues, soft greens, greys, blush, lilac, etc.
- Don’t compare: To others, that is. Comparison precludes joy.
- Outdoors, in: Whether it be a balcony, terrace, or a full-blown garden, outdoor space has become prime real estate. Connect with nature in any way you can. We see the outdoors as an extension of the interior, and we treat it as such with beautiful furniture, lighting and accessories. Due to demand, we are starting a garden design arm of Melissa + Miller Interiors. We have had so many clients ask us to create exteriors that match our interiors, and we are so excited to be launching this soon.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I subscribe to the idea that good design should be democratic. I’d love to see the care, resources and energy going into the design of public schools, daycare centers, city hospitals, etc. Why shouldn’t everyone have a safe and beautiful environment in which to thrive?
We designed a public space for a family homeless shelter in West Philadelphia for this reason. In addition, I’m all for any movement that amplifies women’s voices, particularly women of color.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
How can our readers follow you on social media?