Her aesthetic has been described as clean, diverse and layered, but perhaps the most successful element of Melissa Lindsay’s work is that each project truly does stand alone and is reflective of her client – not the designer. The co-owner and principal designer of Pimlico Interiors relishes the uniqueness of each project, and finds that taking a “creative journey” with her clients is one of the most beloved elements of her job.
Having started her career as a graphic designer at Vogue and New York Magazine, she honed her eye for space and aesthetics, but ultimately she longed to work on a different kind of project. “I was always frustrated with being creative only in a two-dimensional way—sitting hours in front of a computer. Getting laid off after 9/11 gave me the push I needed to pursue interior design. In 2001, I began working for a small interior design firm in Brooklyn Heights. My boss was an incredibly talented designer and a great mentor to me. She urged me to go back to school for interior architecture and design to get proper training (which I did!). And gave me all the books to read–Mark Hampton on Decorating, Elsie de Wolfe’s A Life in Good Taste. She would say, “Read this and then come back to me and tell me if you still want to be an Interior Designer.”
I literally soaked up anything I could at that age. I even recall asking the head of the workroom we used at the time to give me books on how draperies were fabricated, and different styles and terminology associated with upholstery and window treatments. I loved learning it all!”
Part of the beauty of all of this learning is that it took her back to her first (design) love, interiors. “I will never forget the first time I walked into a fabric shop with my mother (The Good Goods in Darien). I was probably about 14 years old. My senses were completely overwhelmed, and I literally felt like I had just walked into the best place on earth! I proceeded to (pretend) “re-decorate” all of the rooms in our home—pulling fabrics, drawing new furniture layouts. It just came out of me… I am fortunate to have no doubt this is what I am meant to be doing in life!”
At her firm, Pimlico Interiors, she takes this love of interiors and helps her clients discover their own style through her work with them. “We take a very thoughtful, intuitive approach in this important step of getting to know our clients. Of course, it’s important to ask key questions such as, ‘How do you want to feel in this space?’ ‘How are you going to use this space?’ Getting into details such as, are they going to be hosting Sunday dinners for a large family? Are they hosting charitable functions and parties often? If you have lived in a space for a period of time, ask yourself—how do I feel this space is not working for me? What bothers me about the room? Usually, common answers come down to the room lacks cohesion and a strong furniture layout.
A step further from these questions is what I like to call a ‘deep dive’ that I take with my clients. Together we pour through interior visuals, and I ask the right questions and observe how my clients respond. I gather a strong sense of what makes them feel good in a room. It’s a very intuitive process for me. My job is to push them just enough creatively to an end result that is, better than they imagined while still a true reflection of their individual style. I always say to my clients, “At the end of the day, you are coming home to your house, not me!”
For those working on their homes on their own she offers this advice: “…my best recommendation is to pour through and collect images of spaces that connect to you. Think about the overall feeling of the space. Once you have a good stack of them (virtual or tearsheets!)—go through and see what the common threads are. This will help you to identify your own personal style.”
For her own home, Melissa worked to infuse the space with a mood that she wanted to surround herself with as well as items that have personal significance to her. “My grandmother was an artist—I love having her artwork around and stacks of her vintage art books. The master bedroom is my favorite spot—I love walking in and seeing our vintage wave chaise and sculptural floor light. The room gets great sunlight and the palette is a soft blush with creams and touches of brass and silver. It’s a very soothing interior and it has become my favorite room in the house! (Is this a hint I need more peace and calm in my life?!)” Something we could probably all use.
Three Questions with Melissa Lindsay
TLV: Favorite way to unwind after a long day?
ML: A glass of red wine (or two) and lavender essential oil before hitting the pillow!
TLV: Favorite app or website?
ML: I’ve just started using the app houseparty—during this time, it’s a great way to connect virtually with friends—but unlike zoom, you can see all their faces on your iPhone!
TLV: Movie or TV show with the best interiors?
Text by Liana Hayles Newton