The airy and white personal studio space at M Hill Rees Interiors allows your design concept to be the main attraction as we begin the creative process. With multiple samples of tiles, flooring, rugs, and fabrics tucked away but easily accessible and with our relationships with various vendors, we begin the process of bringing your vision to life. We consider all elements of your design, textures, colors, fabrics, function, space planning, comfort, “your must haves”, fixtures, furniture, patterns, etc. – to ensure that all work together. Design is our passion at M Hill Rees Interiors. To decorate is to enhance, to embellish; but the art of design considers balance, rhythm, harmony, emphasis, proportion and scale.
To know my story is to know Melissa, the Person and Melissa, the Designer.
The road to my education and professional career in Interior Design definitely had some twists and turns, but I strive to live by … ” Everything for a reason.” Sure, in times of dashed dreams or foiled plans, it is not always easy to hold strong to these beliefs, but I can always look back and find a lesson learned. I don’t want to just list my steps to becoming an Interior Designer. I want to share my journey and lessons along the way that have made me a stronger designer in the hopes that you may get to know me also as a person.
Let’s start at the beginning. As a little girl, I was excited with the gift of a Barbie Dream House, but I knew I had to make it my own. The style and personality of my “Barbie of the day” dictated the vision. With perfectly placed furniture, fabric swatches adding textures and patterns and wooden blocks painted by yours truly to build additions, the house became a home. It went beyond “playtime” for me; I felt excitement and satisfaction when it was time for her to move in and everything was perfectly placed.
In the design process, it is important my clients are comfortable being themselves in order to communicate their true style and vision. Without this the end result is never authentic.
Fast forward to preteen and time to decorate my bedroom. Lucky for me, Mom let me make the choices. I did not hesitate to take the reins. Maybe she expected me to follow the norm for most girls my age, but I had different ideas. She fought me on some things, she fussed here and there, not fully trusting what I was seeing in my mind. Guess what? In the end, she loved it!
In the design process, often clients want to “be safe” to follow the trends. I will never force my client out of their comfort zone, but if I envision something that will enhance their space, I will share my ideas and provide solid explanations to encourage them to rethink things. I believe a designer should challenge their clients to do things they may never have thought of.
The fire to be creative still burned in my heart. I wanted the chance to design in the real world before incurring student loan debt. I needed a portfolio and some reassurance. I put an ad on Craigslist offering amateur design services free of charge in exchange for pictures to build my portfolio. It worked! I was hired to help with a small project. With no experience measuring, space planning or with other details of the design process, I had to be honest about my limitations and face any fears and go for it. I completed my first project and was not only paid but referred to other clients.
In the design process, a unique situation or request can often come up in a project. At times it might be something new even for the designer. Even if it involves something I am totally inexperienced with, I will not let fear stop me from trying but I will always be honest with my clients about my limitations.
With an opportunity to move to Los Angeles and start my degree in Interior Design came next in my journey. When the education fell through for financial reasons, rather than let it stop me in my tracks, I picked up a serving job and offered free assistance at a few small design firms on La Brea Avenue. I was hired as an unpaid intern, and gained valuable knowledge. Eventually I moved back home to pursue my Bachelor of Science in Interior Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh #RIP. While in school, I worked as a Lead Stylist at West Elm and managed to build great client relationships and run small scale projects. My internship during senior year at a hospitality firm designing hotels in Pittsburgh and Ohio led to being hired after graduation as a Junior Designer. A business owner next to our firm was in the process of building a house and looking for a designer. I offered my services and ended up doing my first interior design of a new build. While doing this project and still working at the hospitality firm, one of the owners of the hotels was also building a house in Ohio and had lost their designer. She asked if I would be interested in taking over the project. With both of the huge projects ongoing and other small ones developing, I decided to venture out on my own.
In the design process, there is always a plan to reach the vision, but things happen. A renovation might hit a snag, a client might have a new request, or a chosen finish might be out of stock. As a professional designer, it is my responsibility to keep the project moving even when there is a change in direction.
I have grown and excelled in the details, techniques, and knowledge of the design process through my journey.
Most importantly, though, I care about making more than a beautiful space for clients. I want to educate them. I want to know and understand what makes them light up; then I know insight and intuition will lead me to make their vision a reality.
Life will always take you where you are supposed to go; you must learn to trust yourself.