How A Designer Spruces Up Their Space

How A Designer Spruces Up Their Space

How A Designer Spruces Up Their Space


We’re constantly in awe of designer Melanie Burstin’s skill for styling and curating homes, and her recent move to Echo Park gave us an excuse to ask for some tips (and get a peek inside her enviable new digs).

Photos by Tess Neustadt and Nicki Sebastian

Last year, Homepolish designer Melanie Burstin treated us to a look at her minimal, eclectic Silver Lake home—and we’re still trying to mimic her skill for creating artful vignettes. So when we heard that she was moving to a new apartment in Echo Park, we jumped at the chance to see how her signature style and thoughtfully curated pieces would translate to her new digs. Even with many of the same furnishings and decor, Mel was able to make the new space feel undeniably fresh, yet still uniquely her. Here, she walks us through her design choices and shares some tips for updating your own space.

How is this space different than your previous home, and how did the new setting influence your design?

One thing that’s different this time is that it’s my own space. I was able to make every decision and didn’t have to compromise or veer away from any gut decisions I wanted to make. My new space is also a smaller apartment, so everything feels a bit more cozy and functional.

What is your favorite aspect of your new home?

I love how cozy my living room is. Sure, I love the way my furniture choices have photographed, but what I’m really enjoying is how it feels to be in my home. I feel comfortable, I feel relaxed, and everywhere I turn I get to see something pretty I love.

Your new bedroom is such a minimalist sanctuary. Tell us about your choices there?

I love the look of a Japanese modern bed that’s really low to the floor. When mine first arrived, I was worried finding nightstands would be tricky, as I typically prefer nightstands to be lower than the mattress. I was right, so I ended up forgoing them.

I also spent a few weeks searching for a vintage dresser, only to realize that while I was waiting for the perfect piece to appear, I actually preferred the room without one. The room feels calmer and more like a retreat from the world by being on the minimal side.

Moving provides you with the perfect opportunity to edit your furniture, but were there any pieces you absolutely had to keep?

I absolutely needed to keep my credenza and my dining chairs. They were the first real pieces of furniture that I was able to style in my own home, and I love them so much.

Speaking of curating furniture, what’s your point of view on choosing temporary items you can easily swap out versus investing in long-term pieces?

I say avoid temporary items at all costs. We have to settle enough in our lives, so the place we spend the most time shouldn’t be subpar. It’s easy to say you’re saving for a piece and get something temporary in the meantime. But the substitute often lessens the urgency to find what you’re looking for, and suddenly you’ve been staring at your temporary dining table for two years. I say live without it until you find the perfect piece for you. In the time without it, you’ll get to learn more of what you need, and you’ll be more available to purchase what you want when you see it. If you try to practice only bringing in things you love into your home, I guarantee you’ll end up closer to the gorgeous final space you envisioned at the start.

How do you know when it’s time to swap out a piece of furniture or decor?

If something isn’t giving you pleasure every time you see it in your home, get rid of it! Less is 100% more.

How often should you aim to switch things up in your home?

This is a tough one for me. I say constantly zhuzh and change your space around! That’s what I’m usually up to. Well, until I feel like I’ve hit a larger picture I really love, and then I struggle to change anything.

You’re a pro at curating beautifully layered vignettes. How can you use such spaces to help refresh a space?

I say have more freedom with styling your vignettes because if you fall out of love with them, all you need to do is rearrange and make new pairings—and suddenly you have three new nooks. It’s like a puzzle, every new combination can make the space feel completely different.

Rearranging furniture can be intimidating—especially when you’re moving into a new place. What are some tips to keep in mind?

Nothing is permanent! (Well unless it is permanent, but layout usually isn’t.) I’d say, if you’re having a hard time envisioning a new layout for your home, just try it. You can then move the chairs 5” and more easily tweak the overall layout once you’re viewing it in real time.

I also like to ‘sleep on it’. Often times with our homes when we make a big change the first reaction can be to hate it, but really that’s just a recognition of something different. The next morning we’re often more open to the change and see it as another option rather than just the opposite of what we’re used to. And you know what, if the next morning you do in fact still hate it, try something else!

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In this tour:
Dining Room