Melissa Miles Rufty:
No Holds Barred

THE DOSSIER: NAME: Melissa Miles Rufty. TRADE: Interior designer and owner of décor shop Malachite. VIBE: NOLA nouveau. ABODE: Sally and Richard Edrington's Greek Revival row house, designed by architect Henry Howard in the Garden District of New Orleans, LA.

When her clients, Sally and Richard Edrington, asked New Orleans-based designer Melissa Miles Rufty to decorate their tony historical cottage, they gave her a brief to "deliver color--and then some." You could say it was a match made in camellia country; after all, Rufty has won over the likes of Architectural Digest (who named her one of this year's "Ones to Watch") with her innovative palettes and fresh interpretation of traditional southern opulence. As for the and then some: "I feel like the entire cottage sort of took on its own persona," she says of the results. "A southern gal with a pedigree that is spirited and daring, but can still be proper and genteel when it counts."

LOUD AND PROUD "The key to using color on this project, or any for that matter, is to really commit," says Rufty. "I say, if you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly!" A woman of her word, the designer installed vibrant wallpapers with wild abandon--Osborne & Little's Vintage II Summer Palace in the powder room, and Manuel Canovas' toile Bengale print in the guest room to name two--and selected the den as her dramatic painted moment, highlighting Benjamin Moore's Coat of Arms.

GROUND CONTROL "Strong art balances out color," Rufty advises. In the prominently blue library, an oil painting of homeowner Sally Edrington and her now grown-up grandchildren shares the wall with local artist Robert Lansden's graphic Blue Lotus--a Sanscrit-inspired piece created from a series of two-centimeter hatch marks done with ink and a bamboo stick.

AGE BEFORE BEAUTY In an effort to blend current style with timeless heritage, Rufty mixed pieces such as the client's antique Oushak rug with updated versions of "inherited but otherwise mundane pieces" --a period Bergère chair reupholstered in Dedar's lime ikat-print, and vintage dining chairs in Christopher Hyland's now-discontinued leopard print velvet. "I think this is a unique take on traditional southern decorating," says Rufty. "And southerners have never been subtle and quiet--at least the ones I know."




Wallpaper in Kitchen
"Nantes" #3029-02
Manuel Canovas
Stair Runner Leopard Loop Carpet
Stark Carpet
Wallpaper in Powder Room
"Summer Place" #W5734-01
Osborne & Little
Paint Color in Library
"Coat of Arms" #763
Benjamin Moore
Gold and Crystal Sconces in Library
Mac Maison
Painting in Library
Purple Lotus
Robert Lansden
Chandelier in Guest Room
Uptowner Antiques
Black and White Painting
Karina Gentinetta
Painting in Dining Room
Soren Christensen Gallery
James Beaman Painting in Living Room
Cole Pratt Gallery
Upholstered Wall Fabric in Bar
"Alhambra" #F2491001
Pierre Frey
Banquette Table
Bush Antiques



Photograph: Andrew Arthur