If there was ever an interview on our blog that we were extremely excited about, it would have to be this one! Join us as we sit down with Traditional Home‘s very own, senior design + market editor, Tori Mellott. (Follow her instagram account, it’s inspiration in and of itself!)
HC: We LOVE Traditional Home. How would you say the magazine has evolved over the past few years (with the influx of digital/social) coming into play
TM: So glad you like the magazine! I love it too! About a year ago, our new editor in chief Jill Waage (IG: @jillwaage) took the helm and since then, the magazine definitely has a new look and feel. Jill oversaw a complete redesign – including fonts, layouts, and pacing. I think Traditional Home is always evolving. Like our tagline says, “timeless designs for modern living.” We do a great job covering how families, couples, and individuals live elegantly. The homes we feature always feel warm, sophisticated, and lived in. There’s usually a surprise as well – something unexpected to keep classic design interesting.
Designer: William Rankin McLure IV; Photographer: Brittany Ambridge
HC: Traditional will always be traditional. What’s the new wave for traditional like (i.e trends, materials, shapes, patterns)?
TM: I’ll say this – you can never go wrong with the traditional design. I think a lot of brands are sifting through their archives and tweaking perennial favorites; with fabrics and tabletop, designers are playing with the scale and recoloring old and beloved patterns. With furniture and lighting, designers are ridding pieces of unnecessary flourishes and carvings but maintaining the integrity of the original silhouette. In terms of new materials, performance/outdoor fabrics have made impressive improvements.
HC: What do you find has shifted in terms of tastes when it comes to traditional? Is it periods…..regions……specific furniture?
TM: There have been two shifts when someone describes their taste or aesthetic as “traditional”. The first shift is – comfort and practicality – essentially livability. People still want to live with beautiful pieces but maybe that scroll arm sofa is covered in a performance fabric as opposed to a woven damask. And the second shift is scale and layout. People are larger, homes are larger, ergo furniture needs to be larger to fit a space properly. This also comes back to layout – many homes have open floor plans and designers and homeowners want furniture that all looks good in one room.
Designer: Heather Drewberry and Will Huff , Photographer: Emily Jenkins Followill
HC: We really enjoy following you on instagram – you really give us the behind-the-scenes scoop on life as a fabulous magazine editor! How did that start? What’s your favorite part about it?
TM: I moved to NYC to attend NYU because I thought I wanted to work in fashion (what teenage girl doesn’t?!?). I did an internship at a very prestigious fashion house (I will not name names to protect the innocent!) the summer right before school started and I hated it. It was like a scene out of “The Devil Wears Prada” (only about 15 years before “The Devil Wears Prada”). So I decided fashion wasn’t for me, but I wanted to do something creative. I had a professor at NYU whose wife worked at a magazine called HomeStyle. There were so many amazing people there – Suzy Slesin, Newell Turner, Elana Frankel, Joyce Battista, Emma Yamashiro, Bob O’Connell, James Dunlinson – I learned so much in 6 months. I knew within seconds that I wanted to work at a home magazine. After I graduated, I immediately got a job at House Beautiful as Elizabeth Mathew’s assistant. I also helped Senga Mortimer and Miguel Flores- Vianna, and the editor-in-chief was Marian McEvoy. Talk about a star-studded crew! After HB, I moved to Elle Décor and worked for Anita Sarsidi and Margaret Russell – again, two heavy hitters in the interiors world. Finally, in 2005 I got a call from Conde to interview for a magazine that had yet to be named and so I went on the interview, got the job, and started working on the prototype of what would be Domino magazine. I worked with some of the finest and most creative people at the book. I became best friends with the other market editors (well, one was already my very close friend) and we are all still pretty close to this very day. It was the experience of a lifetime. After Domino folded I sort of floated around. I did a stint at Martha Stewart, I worked at The Nate Berkus Show (TV is hard!), I freelanced, and finally, a position opened up at Traditional Home. I fought so hard for the job I currently have. I think I interviewed for an entire year. I really love print and longed to be back in familiar territory. Thankfully, I got the job and have been at TH for almost 7 years and I hope I’m here for another 7 – it’s such a fabulous magazine and I love it. All of my experiences have been extraordinary and I feel like I got hit on the head with the lucky stick more than my fair share!
Designer: Jonathan Burden Photographer: Matthew Benson
HC: Any fun stories/connections that resulted from instagram?
TM: Countless! It’s six degrees of Kevin Bacon! Just the other day my acquaintance Steven Sclaroff (and wow, do he and I know each other in a wild way, but pre-Instagram! All I’ll say is it involves Carnegie Mellon, art galleries, and former youth group leaders! Crazy. But I’m so glad to know him – he is visually gifted and very funny!) took a picture of a Cadillac named Nancy (who coincidentally has her own Instagram account) who my friends Austin Mill and Spencer Gervasoni turned me onto. It was like all worlds colliding over Nancy the brown Caddy! Another funny thing that happens from time to time is that my twins, Franny & Lucy, are recognized around town. I’ve had it happen a few times where I’ll be walking down the street or in a shop with the girls and a person will say, “I know this is really weird, but are your twins Franny & Lucy?” It’s kind of funny and then sometimes I think I’m putting them out there too much. Maybe my next career is a stage mom? Also, my best friend Elizabeth Blizter has been stopped in two airports and asked “Are you AUNT BIDDDY? Franny & Lucy’s AUNT BIDDY?” I mean, you gotta laugh and take note – it’s a pretty powerful tool.
HC: As a tastemaker and trendsetter, what are some things you’re excited about this year? As an editor, what do you LOVE seeing in your inbox from designers?
TM: New Projects! I love seeing what’s out there. I am such a voyeur. And, of course, I love new introductions, new collaborations, anything new. That’s the journalist in me!
HC: What do you loathe (wish there was less of)?
TM: This is tough to answer because my motto is, “If done well, nothing is ever out of style” and I truly believe that. However, there are a lot of derivative designs out there that are poor copies. There are two things, in particular, I would like to see go the way of the dodo. Number one, bad gallery walls – if they’re too perfect and everything is symmetrical and straight – then you’ve missed the point of the gallery wall entirely! Gertrude Stein’s gallery wall is an example of perfection – it was haphazard each picture spilled into the next. In fact, the “gallery” wasn’t behind the sofa but the art was on every wall! I think she even hung it over the molding – which I love! The other thing I’ve really had it with is bad button tufting. It looks so cheap! In my opinion, well-done button tufting should either be deep and tightly upholstered – the kind that makes you nervous to eat on because you’re afraid no vacuum will ever be able to find the crumbs in that deep cranny! Or it should lightly rest on the top of the upholstery – like a featherweight macaroon on top of a piece of fabric. When it’s loose it looks low rent – and it probably is.
HC: We’re Texas-based, what do you enjoy about the Lone Star state that contributes to design?
TM: I love Texas for so many reasons. For starters, I love how much Texans love their state. A friend of mine was giving birth up north and her mother sent her a box of dirt to put under the delivery table so the baby could be born on “Texas soil.” That’s dedication, commitment, and passion! In terms of design, I love the breadth of design one can find in Texas. I’ve seen ultra-modern architecture out in the desert and in the plains and I’ve seen beautiful, traditional designs in Houston and Dallas. Chip and Joanna Gains have completely reinvigorated Waco, TX and Austin is exploding! I’m very fond of Meredith Ellis’s James showroom in Autsin and now Dallas, too. Another favorite is Biscuit Home in Houston. And so many of my favorite designers are from Texas – Jan Showers, Amy Berry, lifestyle guru Kimberly Whitman, Denise McGaha, Elle Cole, and Shay Geyer, Jean Liu, and Suzie Page – just to name a few!
HC: Do you predict any kind of style to come back?
Right now I’m really hoping balloon shades will make a comeback. I’m totally bored by stiff, lifeless Roman shades with no movement or personality!
HC: What’s your own personal style like (design/fashion)?
TM: My personal style is girly – think bows and ruffles, a teeny-tiny bit preppy – think stripes and pink, a teeny-tiny bit bohemian – think Indian prints and tassels, and 100% traditional!
HC: We noticed you and your adorable family! Any advice for mommies trying to stay chic in their design (in a practical way) when they have children. Tips?
TM:Tip One – flats, flats, and more flats! I love heels, but they are utterly impractical for buzzing around the city. I love to pair flats with skinny jeans or cigarette pants. Add a ruffled blouse, tucked in with a belt, or a cute sweater and viola! You have a smart outfit that you can move in easily – whether its grabbing the kids from ballet or toting loads of fabric samples from the D & D building – you can still look cute and put together but maintain a level of practicality! Warning – flats should be avoided when wearing any skirt below the knee. It just looks bad – terribly unflattering. If you’re going to wear a skirt with flats, make sure the skirt hits right above the knee. Although not much shorter than that otherwise that spells trouble!