Contrast and Comfort for a Los Angeles Family

Contrast and Comfort for a Los Angeles Family

Contrast and Comfort for a Los Angeles Family


Homepolish designer Melanie Burstin brings light to a Los Angeles abode with heaps of white oak, creative built-ins, and strategic color schemes.

Photos by Tessa Neustadt.

Homepolish designer Melanie Burstin is known for her bright, minimal interiors, so designing a home that was already decked out in dark shades was a welcome challenge. When her clients, Brigid Kelly and Andrew Deutschman, “a young, creative couple with an incredibly adorable toddler son,” came to her with a mix of black elements (their sofa, kitchen cabinets, and dining table), she wanted to balance all that cool darkness with welcoming comfort.

“I felt it was my duty to lighten the space,” Melanie said. “I made it my mission to make sure all of these dark elements wouldn’t feel too heavy, but would instead make a great contrast.”

The Homepolish designer knew exactly which shades would work wonders. Drawing inspiration from the gorgeous scenery just outside the window, Melanie sprinkled regal shades of hunter green throughout the home.

“I was really drawn to adding green to the space as I think it’s a nice balance for black and wood tones,” she tells us. She also softened some of the modern house’s hard edges with warm wooden accents.

When Melanie first met with the couple in their Beachwood Canyon home, she knew it was a project she wanted to take on. Although the home had a gorgeous, inviting open floor plan, the space felt disjointed and less-than-comfortable. She had to dive right in—not even waiting until post-meeting to drop some design advice

“At our consultation, I suggested simply rotating the sofa,” she tells us. “By the time we had our first meeting, the sofa was moved and the whole room had a different feeling. It was awesome!”

One big goal of the redesign was breaking up the open floor plan to distinguish clear zones. And of course, Melanie wanted to infuse the opulent black palette with a good dose of light. The custom media unit helped do both.

“The biggest change I made was designing the custom white oak media unit under the TV. We were able to make the living room feel slightly more separate from the rest of the open space by giving it direction,” Melanie explains. “The unit also doubled as storage space, so now they can hide all of their sons toys in the right side, which opens like a trunk.”

When it was time to expand from the living room, Melanie embraced the space’s unusual—yet ultra cool—quirks. She got inventive, turning a long-decommissioned black fireplace into an earthy, rustic, one-of-a-kind bar. The vignette is a unique detail that still lets the home’s original design shine through with its ochre bricks that had once defined the fireplace.

Although the room’s dark shades could pose a challenge to a less-seasoned designer, Melanie quickly got creative. “I think adding the glass cabinet in the corner of the dining room both grounds and relieves the heaviness of the black fireplace and table,” the designer shares.

“There’s something about a black dining table I always find challenging to style,” she tells us. “It was difficult to find a rug that was light enough to make the table not feel heavy, but was also not too light that the imminent food stains from having children wouldn’t be on full display.”

(We think she nailed it.)

But what’s design if not a little fun? While Brigid and Andrew’s toddler danced away to Michael Jackson, Melanie brought a playful spirit with designing the finishing touches. Smaller changes might seem—well, small—but they can define a space’s aesthetic and purpose. Melanie understands the power art and decor pieces can have on a space.

“Towards the end of this project, I went on a big accessories shopping trip,” Melanie said. “I unloaded multiple carloads of goodies all over their backyard and began bringing them in one by one, styling each and every surface.”

In addition to decorative objects and trinkets, 2D art that is rich in texture and tone is a must for any well-curated space. Melanie put a personal spin on art selecting by helping the couple choose a piece of art by their friend M. Alexander Weber in the living room. Once it’s all knitted together Melanie can’t help but feel as happy as her clients do.

“One of my favorite parts of the job is install day,” Melanie said. “I love when all your hard work pays off and you then get to throw in some smaller goods to make it all looked lived in.”

“After a day of shopping for new furniture together my husband and I realized we needed a referee…. and that’s where Melanie came in. She completely understood our ideas and wove them into a singular style, while at the same time creating storage for our two year old son’s ever growing fire truck collection. We now have a space that we all equally love. Melanie is so talented!”

Check out the gallery below for additional photos and sourcing information.