Tori Mellott is not only Design and Markets Editor at Traditional Home, but also a major influence in the design world. With her unique style aesthetic, Tori inspires everyone from designers to readers. Find out what she had to say about all things design, including a few wonderful tips that you can take into your home.
Viyet: What has been your favorite Traditional Home feature?
Tori: That’s so difficult to answer – there are so many! Off the top of my head, the feature story in the October issue, which happened to grace the cover, was beautiful. This particular home wasn’t what I would necessarily choose for myself; I typically go for crazy colors and a mix of patterns, but this sublime home was like a vast ocean of soothing beiges, creams, and baby blues beckoning to me. Reading the article was like escaping into the most serene world. The details were exquisite and nothing was left as an afterthought.
Viyet: What designers are on your radar right now?
Tori: A man who’s always on my radar is Miles Redd. I’ve admired his work since I began working in this industry 16 years ago. His designs are full of life and color, but always elegant. His new line of fabrics and wallpapers for Schumacher is sensational; he has such a keen understanding for both traditional and contemporary design. I’m also wild about Redd’s protégé, Nick Olsen; he’s on fire! Olsen has developed his own unique style, which I adore. I could live with bold colors all the livelong day, so these two gentlemen are right up my alley. In terms of emerging talent, I’m seeing a lot of great up-and-comers! A few designers to keep an eye on are Louise Johnson, Philip Thomas, Kara Cox, and Gordon Dunning.
Viyet: What are your top 3 favorite Viyet pieces and why?
Tori: This Maxine Snider chaise is the definition of restrained elegance. The proportions are perfect – not clunky or over-scaled and not too diminutive and cutesy. Every room needs a few “quiet” pieces of furniture. You don’t want everything to be a showstopping scene-stealer! This piece is functional and beautiful, and chaises are perfect for rooms that have awkward negative space – tuck them in a corner, place at an angle, use them to divide a room, or use mirror-image chaises to flank a fireplace.
Tori: Mirrors are often overlooked and typically an afterthought, which is a shame. Mirrors that look too new, or finishes that are too perfect, or shapes that are too simple immediately bring the design of a room down. Antique mirrors or mirrors that have been made to look antique always lend a touch of romance to a space. When I see an old mirror, I always think to myself, “I wonder how many people have gazed at themselves in this mirror? And who are those people? And what has this mirror seen over the course of time?” I love the history! I’m also enamored of this mirror’s shape and scale. At first glance, this piece has a very masculine deco vibe, but upon closer inspection, one will notice that the frame mimics what a Dutch masterpiece might be framed in – it’s a very unique combination! As much as I dislike over-scaled upholstery, my rule with mirrors is either go big or go tiny or go home. When placed appropriately, gigantic mirrors anchor a room and small mirrors add interest.
Tori: A very wise old decorator once told me, “ALWAYS buy lamps in pairs. Never, ever buy a single lamp. Even if you don’t use both in your scheme, you (or the homeowner) may want the option at a later date, and God forbid it’s discontinued.” Christopher Spitzmiller lamps are absolute classics. You cannot go wrong with any shape or color. If you (or your client) prefer an overall neutral palette, these are the perfect pieces to add just a dash of color. I can see these gorgeous lamps in a chocolate brown room. Pow! The perfect punctuation! Spitzmiller’s timeless designs keep a neutral room from feeling boring and stale – they are truly part of any great designer’s secret sauce.
Viyet: What emerging trends are you seeing for 2016?
Tori: Trends…trends…trends…I loathe design trends. In fact, I try to ignore them at all costs, so I couldn’t even tell you what they are. In my opinion, investing in “trendy” designs is a waste of money. I buy things I love and decorate rooms around those pieces. For instance, I decorated my bedroom around a particular fabric on my headboard. For my living room, the jumping off point was an antique Biedermeier chest. I guess one trend that I can get on board with is the continued proliferation of images and exchange of information about design. I’ve always been passionate about design, but it really wasn’t covered in the stack of Encyclopedia Britannica my parents had as reference books. The power of the Internet is obviously nothing new, but every day I learn about a new artist, I discover a new designer, or I find an image that completely captivates and inspires me. There is so much to explore – it’s incredible, and I hope the trends in technology continue to evolve and heighten my visual and creative experience on this earth.
Viyet: What is your personal approach to design?
Tori: Consider every detail within an inch of your life. I’ve really had it up to my eyeballs with people who say, “Just buy what you love and it will all come together!” Unless you’re Albert Hadley, or some other design legend, that’s just not true. Sure, you can buy ONE piece and design a room around that, but you can’t just go throw the entire kitchen sink in a room and expect it to look good! Decorating is a profession – not only does it require innate talent, but it also requires precise technical skills that are learned on the job. Because I’m no Albert Hadley – not even close! – I consider everything very, very carefully.
Viyet: How do you define the Traditional Home look?
Tori: Traditional Home is about elegant, elevated, gracious living, but the spaces are never precious or museum-like – every home is well lived in and well-loved! While the homes we feature all have traditional references, they’re not necessarily overt references – every window isn’t swathed in swags and not every piece of furniture is dripping in bullion fringe – but they all nod to traditional design in some manner or another – it’s traditional design that’s suited for modern living.
Viyet: How has your style evolved over the years?
Tori: Generally speaking, my style has remained pretty constant throughout the years. I’ve always been attracted to tailored, feminine, colorful designs. I find that by being curious and learning and seeing new things every day, a more refined and focused version of my style emerges.