1 of 4
Natural light brings out the bright splashes of color in Molitorï¿½s living room.
2 of 4
In Molitorï¿½s home office, natural textures come together with contemporary lines to form a haven for creativity.
3 of 4
TOP Doak's nursery gave Molitor and opportunity to up the playfuless factor. BOTTOM Colorful carpet samples fascinate Doak while heï¿½s being changed and make for an unusual wall display.
4 of 4
The kitchen/dining areaï¿½s open layout welcomes the coupleï¿½s many houseguests to be a part of the action.
Sign up for our tour, on Feb.5, 2012 at 1 p.m., of Melissa Melitor's house! Email email@example.com.
Smack in the middle of a 12-kid family, Melissa Molitor, age 31, grew up needing to stand out. She rejected hand-me-downs in favor of thrift store finds, piecing together one-of-a-kind outfits and even prom dresses from among her spoils. After high school, Melissa discovered that her ability to find unexpected beauty within the everyday translated perfectly to interiors. And at West Virginia University, she made it official and graduated with a degree in interior design.
Fast forward to 2007. Molitor began MMM Designs-Interiors, backed by a few years of experience turning model homes in Maryland into catalog-worthy showpieces. "With model homes, everything's over the top. You really get to play," says Molitor, who played so creatively on those blank home canvases that she began to establish a name for herself as a designer who could create chic looks on a modest budget.
Shortly thereafter, Molitor built her own three-story canvas in Richmond's East End. She and her husband, Derek, never thought they would end up owning a newly constructed home, but the realization that she could have complete creative control from the ground up (quite literally) was too tempting to ignore.
The two recent Richmond transplants laid out their priorities early on. Molitor puts the design concept simply: "The goal was an open space with windows that would bring the outside in." Functionally, however, the house had to do so much more. The couple's extended family could populate an entire neighborhood, so not only was it a must to design an open-plan first floor that could accommodate a crowd, but the backyard and custom deck had to follow suit.
Molitor's other consideration was the future arrival of another permanent resident. When Doak Molitor came into the world seven months ago, a painstakingly designed nursery awaited him.
"The theme is ‘Calm Before the Storm,'" explains Molitor, as she gestures to the wall mural that she put together from separate decals. Silhouetted leaves blow off a tree as birds take to the sky, all against a painted background reminiscent of the sun setting behind gathering storm clouds.
The effect is exciting, rather than gloomy, and a number of brightly colored accents help keep the room cheerful: an otherwise uninspiring rocking chair painted bright orange, a quilt that a friend made from discontinued fabric remnants and an assortment of vivid-hued shag carpet samples arranged on the wall. Ever practical, Molitor's vision for the room adapts as Doak grows, with sectional tables that will become nightstands and a crib that converts into a child's bed.
Downstairs, the sunny living room's natural palette draws the eye instantly to an enormous abstract painting that Molitor did herself during her pregnancy. Its striking fuchsia and red shades are echoed in sizable throw pillows and upholstered seat cushions made out of fabric samples she's collected over the years. Derek's old cabinet speakers flank the television; after a few coats of Rust-Oleum applied by his wife, the speakers have turned into functional conversation pieces instead of anachronisms.
Nestled in an alcove, a colorful Dan Sheets sculpture looks out over the combined living room and kitchen area. His artwork, easily identifiable by its colorful sketchbook feel, brightens household â€¨corners while contrasting cleverly with clean lines.
And those same clean lines are at the heart of every room in the house. Molitor's minimalist style not only keeps her house adaptable for on-the-fly decorating changes, it helps keep her budget balanced. As she sweeps through the living room and into the kitchen, she points out the bargain pieces with pride. Elegant white end-table lamps? Thrift store. The sleek stainless island? Craigslist. The modern white barstools? Ikea. Molitor not only mixed metals in her kitchen, she mixed price points, while keeping the room inviting and accessible for guests who want to pull up a stool and help assemble hors d'oeuvres.
At the front of the house, what was once intended to be a dining room quickly became Molitor's home office — a soft, comfortable space where inspiration strikes on a daily basis, both for MMM Designs-Interiors and her side business, MMM Designs-Jewelry. There, she sits at a glass desk surrounded by framed fabric pieces and natural branches, designing for clients, painting wooden bangles or updating her design-on-a-budget blog, heyanthro.blogspot.com .
From the chocolate-colored powder room with its turquoise damask wall decals to a master bedroom filled with meaningful artifacts from the couple's wedding (a fishbowl of signed shells from their wedding guests) as well as family relics (her grandfather's trunk with his name still painted on the side), Molitor's design philosophy is clear. It's the details that make a house a home, and many of those details already surround you, just waiting to be cast in a new light.