Untraditional Neoclassical Combination
Equates to Elegant Family Home in Bridgeport
January, 2007 - Issue #27
Caution: This story and the accompanying photographs may inspire intense envy. This 3,100-square-foot home in Bridgeport, occupied by the Melin family, is one worthy of more positive adjectives than the average computer thesaurus contains. But what might be the proverbial frosting on designer Annette Melin's already delicious cake can be summarized in her own words: "This is very nice, but you should have seen the other house. It was to die for."

You see, this home is only a temporary rest stop for the Melin family as they search high and low for their dream home. The rental has been filled with the laughter of little Michael, 4, and Sara, a year and a half, for what amounts to less than twelve turns of the calendar.

You see, Annette, originally from Glendale, and husband Gilbert, who hails from New York, are in pursuit of a 5,000 square foot Mediterranean estate featuring wrought iron and marble. The search has been arduous and isn't near complete. Thus, the rental in Bridgeport, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom pad that contains a home office and formal dining room, is a nest with an indefinite lifespan. But for this family, living in a rental house doesn't mean that it shouldn't feel like home.

Comfort was a factor when selecting her home's signature pieces, says Annette. So much so, in fact, that the entire square footage's many colors, decor items and furniture selections were conceived based on the coziest of accessories: a pillow.

"A favorite pillow of mine has a neoclassical print. Very monochromatic. So the home has a very neoclassical country feeling. Everything is gold, black or ivory, except for the kids' rooms. In order to achieve the look I was going for, many of the pieces had to be custom, but I also was able to make many of my purchases locally," says Annette.

Her knack for selecting just the right piece did not come from spending time in a formal classroom; much of her expertise came from watching Mom. "My mother had no formal training and has been featured in 'Architectural Digest' and lots of other home-related publications. I learned a lot from her, and I also study other people's homes and styles by looking at magazines."

For now, Annette is content to work on her own space, but that won't be the case for much longer. "I'm starting a business that will help people design and accessorize their homes. I want people to know that they can have a beautiful house without spending a lot of money."

As for her own home, warmth, sophistication and a family-centered feel are the qualities Annette hopes to convey. "I love elegance, but not in a traditional way. We teach our kids to take off their shoes and to not eat on the couch, but the home is still livable. It's an elegant, sophisticated family home."

One doesn't need to travel far into the home to come upon Annette's untraditional selections. For example, lingerie-clad ceramic figures, seemingly inspired by 1950s-era pinup girls, adorn the wall in the laundry room. "It's a sexy laundry room," she jokingly exclaims. "Really, though, it's about adding touches of whimsy throughout the home. It's about not taking yourself too seriously."

Even though the space might not officially be owned by the family, Annette has made it hers through careful attention to detail. When it comes to decorating, says Annette, "it's about choosing the right paint, maybe changing the arrangement of pictures, using furniture in different ways; whatever it takes to make key items pop." In her experience, "People don't always know how to use accessories in the right way. It's not about buying new things; stuff might just be in the wrong place."

As for her favorite room in her Bridgeport home, the answer is an easy one. "Sara's room is in one word: delicious. I can just sit in there forever. Every person who comes over wants the room for themselves. It's the most amazing room to be in; the color, the fabrics, the chandelier... It's so sensory oriented; it's almost like you'd want to 'eat' the room! It's very 'wow' and it would be my bedroom if only my husband would go for pink," she says.

Another benefit of the nursery: It can grow with Sara. "When my son was little, I made the mistake of making his nursery so 'baby' that he was too old for it after a year. With this room, we can keep the canopy and use it over a twin bed when she's ready. With just a few minor adjustments, I think this room will get her into nearly her teen years," says Annette.

Here's to hoping that the canopy will look just as good in that Mediterranean/wrought iron/marble home the Melins are searching for.
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