First-Time Homeowner Melissa Smrekar Decorates Her 1939 Dallas Cottage With Her Signature Style
I do not suffer from analysis paralysis. When I toured this house, I knew it was the one," says Melissa Smrekar (@melissasmrekar) of the 1930s cottage she purchased in her hometown of Dallas. A born storyteller (she writes and performs comedic essays), Melissa let her personality take center stage when decorating the interiors. "Because I work in the arts, I think of this place in a cinematic way," she says. "My house is my own movie set. In this 1,500-square-foot jewel box, I am the writer, director, and set designer of my ideal romantic comedy. I choose pieces that strike my fancy, whether its living room walls the color of calamine lotion or kitchen pendants shaped like bows. As Nora Ephron would say, I am the heroine of my life," Melissa notes. She filled the interiors with a fun mix of cheeky vintage treasures and splurge-worthy pieces. How she developed her style is one of the questions most frequently asked by her Instagram followers. Her reply? "Wes Anderson movies, favorite hotels, old Italian homes, photographs from the 1960s, Flair magazine, Luke Edward Hall, cruising eBay at 2 a.m., coffee-table books, Mad Men, and a million other things," she says. Here, Melissa shares her decorating advice for other new home buyers.
You Can Do Anything but Not Everything
"Some ideas are bigger than your funds allow. When custom drapes exceeded my budget, I elected to add designer trim to personalize my existing window treatments so I could order an olive green velvet sofa for the living room instead. I also used the Schumacher Wycombe Park print only on the backs of the swivel chairs and performance fabric on the other side."
Melissa collaborated virtually with Studio Kendrick, an Austin based design firm, on her living room furniture. "Farrow & Ball's Setting Plaster (No. 231) is my all-time favorite color and reminds me of crumbling Italian villas. When the sun is shining, it's undoubtedly pink, but at night it softens to a cathartic neutral." She used this color on the living room walls.
Pull Inspiration from Favorite Places
"One design element I kept from the previous owner is the Scalamandré Raphael wallpaper in the dining room. The pattern is partly inspired by the trees of Central Park in New York, which is one of my favorite cities. I asked a colleague to design two pieces for me based on the murals in Bemelmans Bar there. My dining room bar setup reminds me of being in that spot."
Let Your Personality Show
"Every Southern home needs a warm and inviting kitchen. In my Nancy Meyers-set bachelorette pad, the kitchen is the heart of the home where everyone congregates. I have a French-style island, Scandinavian-designed pendants made in England, and Italian shell-back grotto barstools—all in a Southern home. The reason I think it all works together is because it feels true to my taste."
Take Calculated Risks
Melissa justified taking a risk on wallpapering the main bedroom with a magnolia print by Thibaut because she found the rolls for a steal on eBay.
Add the Unexpected
"Have one thing in every room that you can't just swipe up for," Melissa says of vintage finds like the snail basket and heart-shaped chair in the main bath. The cabinetry is painted in Benjamin Moore's Alligator Alley (441).