If only we lived in Tulsa…
Did we spark your curiosity? Well, good. Because, Mel Bean of Tulsa-based Mel Bean Interiors sure knows how to design a gawk-worthy home. Her classic-with-a-bit-of-edge style is enviable and this modern family home she designed is bright, beautiful, and makes us want to move right in. Mel is known for her mix of luxury and pops of fun with an overall sophisticated feel. This home, in particular, captures that so well. But like any great interior designer, she loves the spice of switching things up and working with clients in a variety of aesthetics and home styles. Read on for the story of her career path and some nuggets of design gold.
Tell us a little bit about you! Where did you start your career?
Unofficially, I began my career as a child helping my parents in our own ever-evolving home. As a teenager, I rearranged our family’s furniture, without permission and to much chastising by my mom. The signs of my future career were there even then!
Still, it didn’t occur to me to pursue interior design as a profession until I was approaching my third year of college on the Psychology/Pre-Med path. I realized I lacked passion for my studies and chose to make the leap to Interior Design. I wanted to be sure I was making the right decision so I picked up a phone book (yes, there were phone books!) and called every business in Tulsa listed under Interior Design or Architecture and asked for an interview. I told them I had no education or experience and that I was willing to support designers or sweep the floors and take out the trash! Robert Cisar and Kirk Holt, of Tulsa based Cisar Holt, took a chance on me and became mentors and friends that contributed largely to the launch of my career.
When did you decide to launch your own business! What ultimately encouraged you to take that leap?
I was so fortunate to work for several incredible interior design and architecture firms, each of whom shaped the designer I am today. With this experience and the encouragement of my family and friends I eventually just knew I was ready to drive the vision of my own firm. Over cocktails in 2011, a partnership was created between Bailey Austin and I and Austin Bean Design Studio was born! For seven years Bailey and I and our amazing team created homes with a focus on the integration of interior design and architecture. Last year, Bailey and I decided to pursue our individual career visions and Mel Bean Interiors launched in December!
What does your day-to-day look like?
No two days are the same, which I love! Some days are entirely design and creativity, whether that be creating plans and elevations in CAD, sourcing furnishings and materials with my design team, or intensive client meetings where exciting decisions are made. On the other end of the spectrum, some days are full of business management and marketing related work. My team makes every bit of this fun, down to our wine tastings during our weekly staff meetings!
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My personal design aesthetic is ever evolving but tends to push the line where classic meets edgy. I recently renovated my own historic Craftsman home in this style. However, I passionately believe each project should be uniquely tailored to the lifestyle and needs of each family I collaborate with. As a result, Mel Bean Interiors‘ aesthetic has ranged from a curated, worldly masculine lake house to a historic home given new life with elegant contemporary furnishings and a colorful art collection. I absolutely love the variety!
Ok, let’s talk about this amazing home! What was the inspiration for its design?
This family was so fun to work with! They knew they wanted an inviting and family friendly home with a touch of modernity. We took inspiration from the simplicity of the architecture, which led to carefully edited forms in our furnishings, lighting, and art. I knew we wanted a restrained color palette, and the family loved the mostly neutral, but varied, setting with threads of blue woven throughout. We paid homage to the client’s background in geology in the selection of the dining room rug, and the powder bathroom art!
Tell us a little bit about the interior design process, where do you start? What’s the best part?
For me, it all starts with the clients. I love to hear what works and doesn’t work in their current home, distill what they are passionate about, and learn about their history. I am passionate about translating this information into a functional and beautiful design aesthetic and solving a new puzzle each time. That initial conceptualization is where I really get into an addictive design zone! It’s hard to say whether that is my favorite part because seeing the excitement of the entire family at install time is so moving!
What are some of your favorite elements that you incorporated into this project?
There are so many! We chose to save the original black tile in the powder bathroom, and play it up with a Schumacher wallpaper, and it became one of my favorite spaces in the house! The selenite chandelier in the dining room casts the most romantic and soft glow and looks just as stunning when unlit. I am a big fan of artist Jennifer JL Jones work and the entry’s steel and wood console table is the perfect anchor for this piece.
Do you have any design rules you swear by?
I don’t believe there are many rules that apply across the board, but there is one I know to be true: EDIT. What you exclude from a space is just as important as what you include.