Everyone loves Melanie Burstin's Silver Lake home—so we asked the Homepolish designer how she created one of the most beloved spaces without succumbing to any of-the-moment purchases.
Mel Burstin’s Silver Lake apartment is an internet darling (and especially beloved around our office). Her 1100-square-foot space strikes a divine balance of curated but not cluttered, of the moment without feeling trendy. We picked her brain about creating your own sense of style, starting a collection, and what she thinks every living room needs.
You have such a distinct sense of style (that’s incredibly enviable). What inspired you?
I think everything inspires me. I like to spend time in rabbit holes on Instagram trying to find artists I’ve never heard. I’m constantly inspired, as I’m constantly taking things in.
I also fell in love with Japanese culture and design a few years ago and feel those influences in my work more and more.
You’ve created a space that feels both minimal and eclectic. How do you strike that balance?
In the past when I’d move, I’d find piles of tchotchkes from discount home decor stores that I no longer liked. I realized it was such a waste. From then on, I decided to try and only buy decorative accessories that felt really special to me.
Usually this means handmade, though often it just means something I haven’t necessarily seen a lot of places. Having a really curated collection takes time but allows for a house that is less filled with stuff, and what you actually do have out is more exciting and meaningful. For me, less is always more.
How do you balance trends with your signature sense of style? How do you integrate those ideas into your space naturally (or not!)?
I try not to think about trends too much because it stresses me out. Everything I think I like, the next week I see an article about and feel like I have no original thoughts. (Hello yellow as the new millennial pink!) Instead I try to focus on what I like, and then I often try to sleep on it (especially if it’s a more costly item) and see if I still like it the next day. I think deciding if you genuinely like something steers you clear of being too on trend.
As for my signature sense of style, that really comes more from my gut. I’m starting to feel less surprised by it, but at first I thought it was funny that all of my projects felt like they had my hands all over them.
How do you layer in texture (clay, leather, fur, etc.) while keeping everything calm and cohesive?
I think having a color palette is what sets good design apart from the rest. Once you see what colors work best in your space and decide which you will use together, you can then go nuts with different textures. I have many elements in my apartment, but nothing feels too jarring because they all go together color-wise.
What tips do you have for creating a collection that doesn’t overwhelm your space?
Less is more—and only buy what you love! Once you start making purchases more consciously your collection will both be more interesting and shrink, therefore it won’t overwhelm your space. It’s also helpful to think of it as a collection and make sure that each piece is in the same vein as what you already own and love.
Your living room includes a couple of custom pieces (your Hedge House bookcase, Clad Home sofa, and your coffee table). For a layperson, when should you make the leap to custom?
I love custom and would have everything be custom if I could. I often go down that road because I either can’t find what I’m looking for or it’s actually less expensive to have it custommade.
One thing to remember when making custom goods for your own home is that you’re the test dummy so you have to be open to imperfections. First I’d figure out what you want the piece you’re making to look like and then I’d compare it to similar things that already exist. This way you can make sure all your dimensions make sense. Also always try fabric and wood samples in the room, as lighting can differ from place to place and make a big difference.
You’ve mentioned the coolest people you know always have music on at home—what other tricks do you have to make your house welcoming?
I try to set a mood whenever people come over. I want to make sure nothing smells weird (potentially paranoid about that one), that there’s music on, and that the lighting is nice.
A few people have asked me if it’s dark in my living room because we don’t have overhead lighting, but it’s actually really nice. In the day it’s bright from the balcony and at night we have a lamp in every corner to create soft mood lighting.
What three things do you think every living room needs?
Every living room should have super comfy seating, greenery to add life, and lots of places to rest a glass.