The Power of Pattern: Conversation with Mellissa Warner Rothblum
*Article reposted with permission from Coldwell Banker Global Luxury
Pattern can often be a designer’s most powerful decorating tool. It can surprise, delight and create depth in an otherwise one-note room. Some would even argue it emotionally resonates with people, even more than color. And when you mix patterns in upholstery, accent pillows and wall coverings? Well, that can be a recipe for design magic — especially if you’ve commissioned Melissa Warner Rothblum to transform your living space.
As co-founder and principal designer of West Coast firm Massucco Warner Miller — which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, she knows all too well the power and punch of pattern. She heads the firm’s Los Angeles office, continuing to build on its reputation for effortlessly blending color and textural palettes, and layering everything from cool vintage finds to custom gilded hand-embroidered wallpaper and patterned textiles. We recently caught up with Warner during Legends 2018 and asked her to share her secrets and strategies for mixing pattern at home.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury : You recently painted a façade for Nicky Rising during Legends 2018. Can you tell us more about that?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: We love that Nicky is so bold and up for painting the exterior of her showroom at all, let alone such a fun pattern! The façade will be painted by a muralist in a Rebecca Atwood pattern, in tones of ivory, blush and deep purple. We used fabrics from Brook Perdigon, Rebecca Atwood, Philomela Textiles and wallpaper by DeGournay and paint by Portola. It was a showstopper, for sure! When we were chatting with people about the window we designed, so many people had said they have driven by when it was being painted. You don’t see patterns like that on buildings very often, so it was fun to hear everyone’s reaction.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: Why did you choose Rebecca Atwood as your inspiration?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: We love how organic her patterns are, and this one in particular really suited the façade in terms of scale and shape.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: Speaking of pattern, do your clients tend to embrace prints or shy away from them in general?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: For the most part, our clients are big on pattern like we are. They see the extra layers and personality it gives a space and trust us to work our magic mixing patterns together.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: What’s your secret to mixing prints in a space?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: It’s all about scale. You can have an endless amount of pattern in a space, but the important thing is that the scales don’t feel redundant.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: What are some of your go-to textile designers?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: We can’t resist Samuel and Sons trimmings, Stark carpets, and so many of the Lee Jofa fabric collections. I’m also smitten with some local to L.A. lines like Krane Home, which make me smile every time I see one of their fun patterns. To me, stripes will never go out of style, so I definitely return to those over and over again.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: When it comes to design trends, which prints are having a moment right now?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: Watercolored prints were having a big moment, which was a welcome change from the more structured fabrics we were seeing for so long.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: Any prints that you feel are past their prime?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: I think any print, even if it’s a bit tired, can be revived if paired with the right pieces.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: You just celebrated your 10th anniversary as a firm. Looking back, what were some of your favorite projects that mixed prints or patterns?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: We did a family room in Montecito where nearly every single piece is patterned. When it’s all seen together, it doesn’t feel too busy….the project is one of our firm favorites!
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: Thinking a little bit differently about pattern — how do you keep your firm from falling into familiar design patterns.
Melissa Warner Rothblum: New patterns are constantly coming onto the market that we are anxious to use, so its easy not to fall into using the same fabrics over and over. And now with so many smaller design houses producing fabrics, the options feel even more endless.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: At the same time, repetition can be a good thing as it creates a sense balance and harmony in a space too.
Melissa Warner Rothblum: In some spaces, repetition certainly makes sense, but for the most part we like to mix patterns that balance each other out. It feels a bit more interesting to the eye.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury: After a decade together, what was the most important design lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Melissa Warner Rothblum: Our upholsterer once said, “The fabric is the boss,” and it’s so true!