For 25 years there’s been something that held appeal for blogger and designer Melinda Hartwright about classic American design. She’s long been inspired by the timeless beauty and effortless elegance of the U.S. East Coast style, particularly the signature blue and white colour palette, the high-quality furnishings and the way it captures sophistication but also livability and family-friendliness.
Melinda boasts a long career in the lifestyle and design world, having worked as a magazine stylist and freelance presenter on shows like Good Morning Australia and Better Homes & Gardens, but the busy mom-of-three feels as if she’s found her calling in the world of interior design and blogging on her site, Melinda Hartwright Interiors.
She started her blog five years ago when she and her family were in the midst of a remodel on their Northern Beaches Sydney home. She shared her experiences throughout the project and found a fanbase in the process. Since then, she’s become a favourite design blogger, having also amassed 200,000 followers on Pinterest.
We had the opportunity to talk with Melinda and learn a little more about what inspires her, how she manages it all, and what it is about quintessential East Coast American style that she loves so much.
1. Can you tell us about yourself and your blog?
My current interior decorating and design business evolved from my decorating blog and the demand from my followers for my decorating services. Prior to that I had worked as a magazine stylist for many years, but have worn many professional hats in my working career, everything from a pianist on a cruise ship, to a wedding planner and wedding shop owner, to actor’s agent and more. It took me a long time to work out what I love and can stick with. But I have always been in creative fields.
2. What inspired you to start blogging?
I started the blog about 5 years ago when we were renovating our home on the Northern Beaches in a classic east coast American style. I had been following a few blogs like Anna Spiro and many from the US for some years and thought it would be a nice way to document the renovation for myself and try my hand at blogging. I had been a design enthusiast and lover of classic American decorating for many years, but thought it might be interesting for people to share in the experience and benefit from my lessons and mistakes.
3. Is there an interior design style you favour and why?
My design ethos is classic and timeless American style, whether it be architecture, design and decorating, fashion or general lifestyle. It’s an aesthetic and way of life that I just relate to and it informs a lot of what I do. I’m a neo traditionalist.
4. Who are you interior design icons?
My design icons are all American, not surprisingly, so at the top of the list is Mark D. Sikes who reflects everything I love and try to achieve with my interior design, decorating and personal style. Then others such as Alexa Hampton, Suzanne Kasler, LeeAnn Thornton, Victoria Hagan, Charlotte Moss and Aerin Lauder.
5. What do you love most about blogging and being an interior designer?
I don’t blog as often as I did prior to starting my business as I simply don’t have the time anymore, but I did enjoy challenge of creating useful, informative, practical and beautiful posts that would inform and inspire my followers. I have always had wonderful, positive and encouraging feedback from my readers, so I guess I must have been doing something right. Although a lot of the time you wonder if anybody reads it!
It goes without saying that having my three gorgeous kids and amazing husband are at the top of the list, but in other areas of my life I’m not sure. I’m unfortunately a perfectionist, which basically means you make life miserable for yourself and those around you having standards and expectations of yourself that are always too high, so you never really feel like you’ve done as much or as well as you could and are always striving for more.
I guess in that sense I never really stop and smell the roses or take in my achievements as I’m always just pushing on looking for something better or bigger to do, which isn’t a very relaxing or gentle way of living life! I’ll have to get back to you on that!
7. You are incredibly busy with your blog, your interior design work and now your new line of beautiful cushions and a pop up store - what made you branch into retailing?
So a bricks and mortar store isn’t something I have the personality or situation for, and the pop up store was simply a way of satisfying my curiosity about selling some of my signatures style wares to small market without a big risk or investment.
The cushion range again is more of an experiment too, as I only consult in my area of the Highlands and readers and renovators from all over were wanting me to supply them. I don’t think it’s something I’ll do for the long term, as I’m realising that with my limited time available to work I really need to focus on one thing rather than spread myself too thinly.
It’s important that people appreciate the value, longevity and enjoyment you get from good quality furnishings and decor and that investing in quality pieces and custom or bespoke design can be expensive but is worth it. I also think that interior designers are often considered a luxury and people can find it hard to appreciate or value the cost of their services, but it really is a valuable and often time and money saving investment in your home.
I don’t expect everybody to love or want a blue and white house just because that’s my favourite colour scheme, and it’s great when clients are open to being stretched and challenged with their ideas. It’s more satisfying creating something new and individual for each home. There’s nothing worse than having the same as everybody else.
I have three young kids so my work hours are very limited and I have to prioritise. I admire people who can manage to run businesses and blog daily.
As Melinda looks forward to what the future holds for her design business, blog and her life, she’s likely to continue her pursuit of perfection, from showing people how to tackle a DIY project, to working with discerning clients to capture the enduring elegance of classic American interior design style.
She’s also planning on bringing her love of this sought-after style to an online shop, which is where she mentions she’ll feature her range of signature homeware items. Regardless of where her career takes her, Melinda is likely to continue attracting readers and followers with the style she’s refined, and juggling it all with the demands of her family.