Like most talent in life, natural ability plays a leading role. Whether it’s drawing, dancing or designing. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Well, New Orleans based interior designer Melissa Rufty has it, and with plenty to spare! I have been a big fan of Melissa’s colorful and sophisticated design aesthetic for the better part of two years. It was from Courtney Barnes that I first learned of Melissa. I think my heart actually skipped a beat the first time that I laid eyes on her work. Layer, texture, color, refinement and personality were all in attendance.
Thanks to our friends Michael and Quinn, Melissa and I finally had a chance to meet in person last summer. The Southern raised, Tulane educated Melissa is as affable and interesting as the interiors she fashions. Drawing inspiration from the bewitching city that is New Orleans, Melissa imbues the same alluring style in all that she creates.
How would you describe your style?
Ever changing but always rooted. I am easily and often inspired, but somehow all of my rooms end up with beautiful antique wood and an oil painting or two. Someone recently described my design style as – southern elegance with a modern edge. It really resonated with me, so I will hang my hat there for now!
What is your most prized possession?
The fabulous antique chandelier that hangs in my dining room. My parents purchased it fourteen years ago from Gerrie Bremermann’s shop in New Orleans. It was a 30th birthday present.
My father suddenly passed away just three weeks before my birthday. My mom, who never lets a birthday go unnoticed, regardless the circumstance, surprised me with a tiny wrapped box. Inside was a miniature crystal chandelier and a note that read, “He would want you to sparkle always.” Bottom line, things are simply just that—things! It is the sentiment that accompanies most things that makes them priceless.
Who has most influenced your direction in life?
Without a doubt my parents. My mother is the epitome of southern style. She is old fashion in her values and ahead of her time in fashion and entertaining. And did I mention that she is always right (I mean ALWAYS). We have a funny expression in our office…”What would Beulah say?” My father was a creative genius. He is legendary for his elaborate parties, practical jokes and surprises. I’d like to think I got her taste and his imagination!
What virtue would you most like to possess?
Who are your style icons?
Sienna miller. You just never know what she’s going to put together, and yet it always works and seems effortless. And of course Aerin Lauder, she has so much of her famous grandmother’s timeless grace. She looks as wonderful in a ball gown as she does a pair of jeans.
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I really adore the design work of Amelia Handegan from Charleston. She is a color savant! Her low country, effortless approach to design is unmatched.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
The smell of salty seaside air, my children, belly laughs and my sweet husband pouring me a great glass of wine (while fanning me of course)!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising three wonderful daughters. However, I’m not done, so I guess the verdict is still out.
Profile by Ronda Carman