New Orleans' Hottest Design Star, Melissa Rufty's Gorgeous Home in House Beautiful

house 2 

Although Melissa Rufty grew up in South Carolina, her fabulous style and taste embody the character of the city she's called home for many years!

Like New Orleans itself, Melissa shows a love for all that is old, traditional, and gorgeous, but, acknowledging that it's all about "the mix" she injects her sense of fearless fun, a certain sexiness and  celebration, and an eye for the  bold and unexpected into her interiors.

It is this wicked combination of fearlessness and the ability relax and enjoy the process which defines Melissa's style.

dining room

Nowhere is this more evident than Melissa's dining room. Using her grandmother's 18th century table and an over-the-top antique chandelier that was a gift from her mother as the centerpiece, Melissa revolves a mix of fabulous pieces which create a narrative that draws guests in and invites them to enjoy the party.

On one side of the room, Melissa created a huge antique mirror out of an antique architectural doorway, which she says strategically "makes you feel like you're in a restaurant with another table full of people next to you," effectively doubling the party!


And if that weren't a clever enough trick, she commissioned a painting for another wall, a  New Orleans narrative, which draws its inspiration from the famous Napoleon House. Such  archetypical characters as "the man glancing down a woman's dress",  "the drunk in the corner" and "the young deb with the gloves." populate both the painting and the room.

Layer all this on top of  Schumacher's Brigton damask wallpaper,  and an antique rug, and set the table with  an antique dessert service, and you have the sultry, easy-going elegance that is Melissa Rufty.

living room 

The living room is also defined by Melissa's deft use of family pieces such as her grandmother's armchairs which are updated with a bold ikat fabric. These comfortable chairs add  a moment of wild to the otherwise subtle room.

 wine closet

New Orlenians love to include architectural fragments in their homes whenever possible, and Melissa found the ornate panel and had doors milled to fit it to create the fabulous wine closet, which she calls "a little filling station off the dining room."


The breakfast room is defined by the wonderful David Knox photos of South Carolina tobacco fields and farmhouses. I love how they create a Southern sense of place and create a modern yet warm dramatic backdrop for the antique table and chairs.

the family room 

The family room contains all things Melissa: a fabulous sofa upholstered in sturdy yet comfortable outdoor velvet from Perennials, an ottoman covered in an animal print, beautiful bold print pillows, local art pieces, and the quirky fabulous find-an oak leaf shaped chair which Melissa recovered in an beautiful bright fabric with custom embroidery.


Another fabulous idea, banquette seating under the stairs reinforces Melissa's emphasis on comfort and entertaining. Isn't this just the most decadent and welcoming treatment for a space like this?


Melissa found her headboard soon after graduating from Tulane at Bush Antiques on Magazine Street. As if it weren't sexy enough on its own, the undulating and sensuous curves of the Leontine Linens bedding takes it to a whole new level. Painted a gorgeous pink, it inspires the visitor to ask how her husband deals with the color. Melissa says that her mother once told her that the bedroom is for the woman, and she invites the man to join her. Who could resist a room as gorgeous and sexy as this!

girls room 2

More Leontine Linens in her daughters bedroom complement Melissa's corageous combination of several bold, colorful prints.


No New Orleans home is complete without a painting by Amanda Talley and Melissa's house doesn't disappoint, with pink on pink, and pattern on pattern being the idea for this inviting space in her daughters room.


Melissa's eye for details, choosing just the right piece and creating visually interesting compositions is what makes her spaces truly inviting and individual. I love the compote with fruit from Shadyside Pottery.


As you may be able to tell from her home, Melissa herself is delightful, talented, mischievous and fun. Melissa is truly a gem of the New Orleans decorative community and one to watch for future fabulousness!

Picture 7

See for yourself! Here is the beautiful Melissa, who was featured in the Southern Style issue of Garden and Gun.

I am the owner of Julie Neill Designs in New Orleans where we create beautiful custom lighting. This blog is my love letter to the unique people, places and happenings which make New Orleans the amazing place it is.

Please visit my website to learn more about my lighting and our fabulous shop on Magazine Street.

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