Photos by Rebecca McAlpin
It’s been eight years since Melissa Bodie partnered with Kathryn Miller to form their highly successful residential interior design firm, Melissa + Miller Interiors. Based originally in London, where they both met during interior design school, Bodie moved back to the Main Line with her family to be closer to relatives. She’s since set up an American office.
Bodie has designed high-end residences, restaurants and hotels around the world. The duo is currently working on projects in Switzerland, Scotland, New York and Los Angeles, with a portfolio boasting everything from private yachts to country homes outside London.
Bodie is a graduate of Germantown Academy and the University of Pennsylvania. Adding family-friendly Main Line homes, like this one in Gladwyne, to her roster is an opportunity she’s fully embracing.
MLT: You worked in London and traveled the world for over a decade. How has your transition to the Main Line been?
MB: It’s a wonderful place—very family friendly, which has been a real treat. I go back to London often to meet with Kathryn about projects, so I’m still traveling quite a bit.
MLT: Prior to Melissa + Miller Interiors, you worked with some prestigious industry leaders.
MB: Yes, I worked for Martha Stewart at her Weddings magazine in New York. Then I went to London, and I decided to go to interior design school. I worked for some great designers over there, including Nina Campbell. She did a lot with the royal family. Her long-term aesthetic has been steeped in the English traditional style, which was like a crash course in details.
Then I became the managing director for Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. Martin is one of the most well-regarded restaurant-and-hotel designers. We had fantastic clients, from SoHo Beach House in Miami to Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. We did several high-end restaurants in London.
MLT: Tell us some more about the Gladwyne home.
MB: It’s a family home, so it was about making it very functional and livable, but definitely not trendy. We try to avoid trendy because, then in two years, clients are thinking, “Why did I get this?”
We wanted to layer a lot of different materials, styles and textures, while still keeping it clean, but not minimalist. We mixed a lot of textures—some silks, lots of linen and cotton. The design is understated elegance. There’s nothing overtly showy or fancy. We used a lot of outdoor fabrics to make the design kid-friendly.
MLT: You layered color into this design. Is color important to you?
MB: Yes, but it depends on what the client wants. We’ve had clients who want monochromatic, and there’s a way to make monochromatic feel warm. We’re big into not having cold spaces. So much of your interior and the design sets your mood for the day. It’s a foundation in which you interact with friends and family, so we always like it to feel warm, even if it’s using a very limited color palette. With this house, the client loved color, but not in a way that was dizzying or off-putting.
MLT: Did you have to redesign a majority of the house?
MB: Yes, all of it. The bones were there, so we only had to knock down a wall or two. Originally, the house was very traditional. It was dark, with a lot of mahogany wood. We definitely lightened up the space. We wanted it to feel light, bright and happy.
MLT: Light, bright and happy—that’s how we would describe the kitchen.
MB: Yes, that’s what we wanted for the kitchen. We went with white cabinetry and Caesarstone countertops. With the amount of cooking and entertaining that happens in that kitchen, I went with the man-made product. The yellow stools at the island bring color into the room.
MLT: Why so many seating options in the family room?
MB: Flexible seating is big, and I learned that from designing hotels and restaurants. The two stools and the two poufs can be picked up very easily. When the client is entertaining and they need to clear the space, it’s nice not to have to lift a huge sofa.
MLT: The duck-egg-blue grasscloth wallpaper in the master bedroom is really refreshing.
MB: The client wanted an all-white bed, so we wanted there to be contrast in the wallpaper and not have it be an all-white space. All-white spaces can be stark. We’re trying to express that color, if treated in the right manner, can really be a backdrop and a neutral—and I think this room highlights that.
MLT: Your design proves you can have nice things with kids.
MB: Exactly. For families, form has to follow function, meaning it has to be livable first and beautiful second. It’s a close second—you should never sacrifice the aesthetics. We see good interior design as enhancing one’s well-being, as it can shape your mood, feelings and emotions while in the space.