Welcome to Design track mind by Melissa Gulley

I am an interior designer from Newton, MA having a lot of fun writing this blog between client appointments, kid stuff, kid school stuff, dog stuff, husband stuff, husband's company stuff (http://www.fueldog.com/), life stuff, old house stuff, family stuff, extended family stuff and the rest of the detail stuff. I am not a writer (clearly) so please ignore the typo's, spelling mistakes and desperate need for proofreading.

Kitchen Obsession: Great Out-Of-The-Box Kitchen Inspirations



I would LOVE to renovate my kitchen- both my husband and I love to cook –(actually Kevin is the cook and I play cook on his off days)  In our house we have a formal living room, formal dining room, formal foyer and kitchen - that makes up the first floor.  We are really BIG on family dinners and try to have a sit down dinner with our kids every night.  We eat in our formal dining room and we play games like: high/low, what's the best “high” part of your day and the “low” the worst part of your day.  This is the only way we get more than a grunt from our kids about their day.  This also involves them in our day and shows them that grown ups have great parts and not so great parts of their life too.  I feel we are really missing the casual eat in and family room part of the kitchen of my dreams.  I do love the look of my eclectic, totally out of the box kitchen but we need to take it up a notch in functionality.

Parkview Open kitchen


I am constantly scouring images in magazines and on the web for interesting kitchens.  Spaces that are done differently, kitchens that wouldn't date as quickly, kitchens that maximize drama and functionality.  I want a space with a ton of personality (our house has a ton of character- that's code for old piece of crap!)

Kitchen with built-in breakfast room


I want warm, friendly, personalized, sunny, happy and carefree.

Chalkboard paint + red + white kitchen: Farrow & Ball 'Blazer,' from Met Home

Metropolitan home

Like most kitchens ours is the heart of our home and needs to help keep our super busy lives organized and clutter free - everything needs a place.

Sandi Holland- House Beautiful

Sun is so important to me- i want to open the back of the house up to our Awesome backyard that no one uses and that visitors don’t even realize is there.  I want a wall of windows in the kitchen - the morning sun!

Napa kitchen - Howard J Backen via Architectural Digest

Howard Backens- architectural digest

MS Living

Apartment therapy

House Beautiful

Coastal living

Kitchen without upper cabinets


rustic kitchen


Nature Inspired Kitchen Wall
An earth friendly kitchen in stone, wood and tile.
The stone wall in this rustic kitchen is highlighted by salvaged wood beams and white tile. Floor made from flagstone and reclaimed hemlock wood mirrors the stone wall panel and timber ceiling. A painted white island with a stone top is used for food prep, add teak stools so it can double as a seating area. Pendant lighting that is simple makes it modern.
Photography: Angus FergussonRoom design: Jill Kantelberg

Jill Kantelberg/ Angus Fergusson

Refined and Rustic Kitchen

Antoine Bootz


Jonathan tuckey


Richard powers

Kitchen Design Modern Victorian Style-rustic kitchen


Desire to inspire

Gianetti designs

best of remodeling.com



Dark, rustic kitchen


Some of these kitchens are quirkier than others, but all challenge the way to think about kitchens.  The hardest thing to juggle when your wanting out of the box is resale value.  Do you do it for yourself and hope in 10 years someone else will appreciate your vision?  In 10 years will that new person rip out any kitchen you put in place anyway.  Hummmmm, what to do?  Everytime I think I’ve found the perfect idea, I find a new picture of something more interesting.  in the end I’m so fickle I might just have my current kitchen forever.  If I were my client, I would have to fire myself.

Media- the perfect storm

Ok, so I want you to know I am not trying to make you vomit by patting myself on the back (you say: yada yada yada here it comes- eyes rolling).  My life is usually fairly (correction: completely) boring and I am just so shocked at whatever this freak Twilight-like stuff that's happening in my life- I wanted to share my thoughts and thanks.

The past year and a half has been nothing short of amazing (no really- freakishly amazing)!  I put up my website, I started writing my blog (something I never thought I could do or had the time for), I started tweeting (ditto, and I suck at it), I got photographed for Country Home magazine, I (my house) appeared in Kitchen and Bath Makeover magazine, I was hired to be the Interior designer for This Old House TV show, My work was in This Old House Magazine a couple times, An article about me was published on the front page of the Newton Tab newspaper (Thanksgiving week no less), I have been quoted in Better Home and Gardens magazine, I was in New England Home Magazine, I did a piece for HGTV Blog and website, This month my house is in a four page spread in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and I am guest Blogging for New England Home Magazine.  All of this after 12 years of obscurity, keeping my head down, working hard for clients and living on word-of-mouth referrals.

Holy shmoly!!!!!!

Last night at my book group someone asked me why all this is happening now?  Was it the TV show, was it the blog?  What was it and how did it start?  My answer???? I have no flipping idea! (I am surprisingly eloquent at times).  My grandfather used to say “luck is when hard work meets opportunity”.  Is that it?  is this just good luck or hard work meeting opportunity (notice I put luck first)???  Over the last 12 years of working in this industry I must say I always try to do my absolute best.  I am honest to a fault, straight forward, happy and friendly.  I believe in making my client’s feel good about their taste and choices and hopefully they love the design process.  I am by no means perfect, I am a small company and if one of my kids, husband or I get sick, the world stops.  I try to return phone calls and emails within 48 hours (I get hundreds of emails everyday)  Could I be speedier- yep, absolutely, but there is only one me and I do my best.  I am 15 min late for everything and the hip outfits for the first few appointments degrade into just shy of my gym clothes as time goes on (you think I’m kidding- you’re lucky I shower most of the time). Of all the amazing designers out there, I am as good as others at some stuff, and I am far worse at some stuff than many, but I do try hard and I really care.  I just can’t believe that after 12 years of designing people’s homes- I am finally getting noticed.  Ya freaking hoooooo!!!!!!!

For all this I want to thank all of my wonderful, incredible clients who have made my job so amazing- I adore every one of you!  I also want to thank all of my vendors, you are the backbone of my success.  In an industry that Designers work alone or with a very small staff, it is the wonderful relationships with my vendors and clients that make my job so amazing and supremely satisfying.  I love that my kids see that mommy loves what she does for a living- I wake up and can’t wait to start working.  I hope they find the same passion for their careers in life. 

Many of you have asked me about the article in Better Homes and Gardens May magazine - it seems to be only in regional and delivered copies - sorry for the confusion.  So here is the article (click on the little thing on the top with 4 arrows to see it full screen.  I hope you enjoy!

May 2011 Melissa Gulley Better Homes and Gardens -

High Points of High Point

Last week I spent 4 days in High Point North Carolina at Furniture Market (that’s right ladies although it was work- I didn’t have to put anyone to bed or yell at anyone to get to school on time- HEAVEN!).  I went with two great friends, we toured 6 huge showrooms in-depth (Hours and Hours) and did drive-by’s on dozens more (maybe hundreds- my aching feet would have guessed thousands)- really fun! (Design Porn as my husband calls it)  High Point is a town in NC that comes to life for two weeks of the year with huge showrooms in fantastically enormous buildings to show each companies latest and greatest furniture, lighting, carpets, accessories and fabric.  It is most frequented by furniture showroom and furniture store owners, buyers and employees.  Increasingly Interior Designers have been going, this gives you a much more in-depth understanding of various lines you can offer to clients and a greater more macro understanding of the industry at large.  Plus, it keeps you on the pulse of what trends and directions the industry is going in and how to creatively use various looks in clients homes.  Going with friends (other interior designers) gives you additional eyeballs to see the bevy of ideas.  The two friends I went with - Fabulous Designers Heather Vaughan and Betsy Bassett - were so much fun.  Both have a different way of looking at and applying each thing we saw, thus heightening all of our takeaways from the experience.

If I had to boil it all down to common threads I would say- the Restoration Hardware “greige, distressed, vintage, flea market” look was in full force (weren't we done with that by the second or third Restoration Catalog?  Apparently not, they saturated us to death with the look).  There was a ton of deconstructionist looks from lighting to furniture to rugs and accessories in all aspects of urban-industrial and somewhat organic (which was refreshing).


Aiden Grey

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Aiden Grey


Great organic rusted metal sconce from Currey and Company


Currey and Company- comes in many sizes and shapes

On the flip side, there was also more of the clean “Modern” look of paired-down case goods with no molding, clean lines and contemporary hardware only this time in colors. Color, color everywhere. 

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Global Views


Hard to tell this is an amazing “stop you in your tracks” Aqua glass covered night stand at Worlds Away.


Great fun side table from Worlds Away


Color Color everywhere at Worlds Away- notice the great Yellow lacquer coffee table- they came in every color.

In the middle of the two deconstructed/distressed and the clean lined contemporary colorful there was something else……. Mid-Century and Art Deco styling in lighting, upholstery, case goods and accessories (this seemed new and interesting to me). 


Mid-Century styled chair (uber comfy) at Hickory Chair- the great thing this photo illustrates is the mixing of styles in the showroom scene, everything goes with everything- well done HCC!


Channeling Dorothy Draper at Hickory Chair


Retro styled chair at Bee Line by Bunny Williams


Very Deco club chair at Century- it’s huge, comfy and it swivels!

The thing I really liked in the larger showrooms we toured was an emphasis on comfort (finally), cleaner silhouettes (not so much contemporary but I would say clean traditional to transitional) and comfortable (worth repeating)!

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Chairs at Hickory Chair – clean, classic and beautiful (comfy as can be)

There was also a dotting (as well as the literal plopping) of ethnic in the styling of traditional,transitional and contemporary- Asian, Moroccan, African, and European (English-although for me this does not necessarily suit the ethnic category as much as the “I'm well traveled look that abounds)


Union Jack perch at Pearson Company- Absurdly comfortable!!! (Union Jack was absolutely everywhere)


More from Pearson- the scale of these chairs was so cool!


Hickory Chair stools (Mayan inspired)


Asian inspired side table by Hickory Chair


Chinoisere meets out of Africa at Hickory Chair


Asian Eterge at Bee Line


Great Safari fabric at Pearson- also terrific chair!


Absolutely Fab tortoise chair at Century


Century does it again- unbelievable table, can’t wait to order this!



About 8-12 years ago some of my clients wanted me to basically make there houses look as though they were very wealthy (fancy, over-designed stuff-yuck!).  I thought this so strange and often misguided, in New England the real way for your friends and coworkers to see you as “loaded” is to use thread bare antiques, oriental carpets that your golden retriever chewed and books “Old Yankee”.  Never talk about or mention money and keep ‘em wondering.  Now the world has changed (thank god) and the new posh is not about having fancy and expensive, it’s about looking relaxed, well traveled, worldly and well read.  Anything that looks as though you tried too hard is OUT! but unlike the “Old Yankee” look- comfort is most important.


Hickory Chair (English trekking chair)

Basically- “CASUAL and COMFORTABLE” in any form or style that represents who you are.