Eye for Design


When Melissa Coleman and her husband, Dr. William Patrick Coleman IV, purchased their early 19th-century home off of St. Charles Avenue, they knew they wanted beautiful yet accessible design. The couple, who has a 20-year-old son in college, and dogs and cats, also wanted spaces that would be used. “Growing up, my house had a formal living room no one could go in,” Melissa says. “I never wanted that. I want a place where my friends can bring their kids and not worry about breaking things or ruining something. Because we have pets, making it pet-friendly was really important. I try to fill my house with friends and family as often as I can.”

A fashion stylist for local publications, Melissa previously owned a successful clothing boutique and also has worked as a buyer for others. So while she has not been formally trained in design, she certainly has an eye for it. “I have unbelievably talented friends with beautiful homes that have inspired and advised me along the way,” she adds. “Thankfully I’m okay with making design mistakes in the quest to try something different.” 

Her quest has resulted in a home that is effortless, eclectic and warm — words that Melissa also uses to describe she and her family — accomplished by layering color and texture onto neutrals. And because some of the rooms had a cavernous feel to them, Melissa focused on scale by incorporating large, colorful pieces to make a statement. “I like each room to have its own vibe; its own personality,” she says. “So while each room complements the next, they all have their own distinct style and function.”

A unifying element throughout the 4,400-square-foot, six-bedroom home is Melissa’s favorite color: green. In fact, there is a touch of green — whether it’s the wall color, a rug, the art, textiles, tile or plants — in every room of the house. “We have a rare Nobu Fukui painting called ‘Beyond Green’ in our dining room that my father-in-law gave me based on my love of that color,” Melissa says.

The color green even inspired Melissa’s overall design for the double parlor. She took the heavy green damask drapes from Scalamandré that were brought in from Paris and came with the home, and she ran with them. “While they’re on the formal side, I selected more modern fabrics and midcentury pieces to add some balance,” she says.

Describing her design aesthetic as part transitional, part midcentury, Melissa tends toward design that is more on the masculine side. She also loves art, and she even uses one of the guest bedrooms as an art studio. “We have purchased many pieces by [local photographer] Les Schmidt,” Melissa says. “His work mirrors our style in so many ways. I always thought I was a minimalist, but this house definitely calls for more. I have these giant neon angel wings flanking a mirror by Louis St. Lewis right when you walk in that [local gallery owner] Martine Chaisson sold me. While terrified of them at first, they’re now one of my favorite things in my home. The juxtaposition of a giant piece of pop art visible as one drives past a 100-plus-year-old home is part of the fun of owning a home like this.” 

In fact, the amount of wall space actually presented a design challenge that Melissa and Chaisson were able to conquer with art. For example, a grand hallway on the second floor of the home is now a gallery wall. “The large Mick Jagger, which is the standout piece, is by local artist Marylyn Rigby,” Melissa says. “The Queen Elizabeth piece, along with a few others, is my own work. The RGB, which is spot-on, was drawn by my 10-year-old niece. The ‘This is a Banksy’ came from my stepbrother who had it in various art shows, and I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift. For the portraits of the dogs, I enlisted the help of the artist Jesus Was A Dog as a gift to my husband. The Grace Kelly was commissioned from Ashley Longshore and is the first Grace she ever painted. The book cover is a play on a Harland Miller print that I painted, resined and glass-glittered.”

In addition to the art that Melissa created herself, she also included other custom pieces throughout her home. She admits that she loves a great one-of-a-kind piece, so wherever she could create that, she did. For example, all of the decorative pillows and a lot of the upholstered furniture pieces are custom. “I struggled with finding the right piece in the right fabric, so I’d buy the right frame and upholster it with my own chosen fabric,” she says. “Stores like Spruce and Fairfax Fabric Company were my go-to sources for the best velvets, brocades, silks and linens to turn into pillows for each space. There’s also a beautiful oversized mirror at the end of the upstairs hallway that Patrick made using salvaged wood from Hurricane Katrina.”

It is through all of these personal touches that Melissa and her husband have been able to create their dream home. “My good friend always says that a home is ‘a living, breathing organism,’” Melissa says. “Its design should evolve with your life and needs.  It’s the silent family member that you cherish. It’s where you celebrate the best moments of your life, and we try to embrace that every chance we get.” 

Digital Sponsors

Become a MyNewOrleans.com sponsor ...

Sign up for our FREE

New Orleans Magazine email newsletter

Get the the best in New Orleans dining, shopping, events and more delivered to your inbox.