Moving into your parents' former home can go one of two ways. One: you feel nostalgic and a little afraid to even repaint the walls. Two: you tear off the Band-Aid and make it yours. Clients of young New York-based designer Patrick Mele
chose the latter route, hiring him to give their mother's former 1950s ranch house in Greenwich, CT a total transformation in no more than two months.
With a full modern glass frontage spanning the dining room and room, the house, shot by Timothy Kolk
, had recently been renovated, so it was no longer the '50s ranch it once was. But Mele still had his work cut out for him shedding its former "crunchy, organic," aesthetic to something sleek and bright. "The mandate was pretty clear-cut and simple," he says. "The lady of the house wanted me to see what we could reuse, which wasn't a lot. She didn't have a huge budget, and she wanted it done in two months. We did it in one summer."
Mele began my painting all the walls gallery white, accenting walls
here and there with black, and he painted the entire outside of the house black. "Right there that set a pretty striking grounding for the whole thing." The designer also bleached all of the floors white. "My clients always lived in white spaces," he says, "so we were on the same page from day one."
Raised in Greenwich himself, Mele knew the lay of the land and sourced a lot of furniture and décor locally, including antiques and vintage pieces. One of his favorites, a salvaged door frame, he painted white and turned into an oversize mirror. "It was all chipped, kind of a dirty beige color, and I found it for like no money," he says. "I really wanted a big large-scale mirror there; I thought something architectural would be terrific." Mele updated a vintage china cabinet and a Yale R. Burge wing chair with paint and new upholstery, respectively. "We also used a lot of off-the-shelf pieces, like Restoration Hardware, Mitchell Gold, and Design Within Reach, so it was a combination of the cool unique finds, and those readily available, budget-conscious pieces."
While white and black rule the roost, there are a few moments of cobalt blue, which Mele credits to the family's annual vacations to St. Barth's. His client wanted to feel like she was back in the Caribbean, but he told her, "You're not at the beach. I can't give you some fantasy beach house, per say." Instead, he modernized a blue and white coastal palette by bringing in turquoise ceramic lamps from the '60s and slipcovering English club chairs in blue linen. "They really didn't have too many pieces from the '60s or '70s," the designer says, "so opening their eyes to making different periods work together was one challenge." In the end, Mele faced the challenge with flying cobalt colors -- the interiors have a flawless mix of eras and styles, and even a touch of Mom: paintings by the clients' mother, who is still living, are sprinkled in every room.
Photographs: Timothy Kolk