Meet The ASPIRE HOUSE McLean 2020 Designers: An Exclusive Interview With Melissa Colgan

With a fresh take on a classic style, Melissa Colgan is designing a bedroom and adjacent bathroom at the ASPIRE HOUSE McLean Show House that could be for a cool Granny or a mature teenager, but definitely for someone who loves pattern and color. Find out who inspired Melissa when designing her spaces in an exclusive interview with Sherry Moeller.


Rendering of Melissa Colgan’s Bedroom for ASPIRE HOUSE McLean 2020. Rendering by Lauren Reynolds.

Sherry Moeller: Describe your room at the show house. How did you come up with the concept and what’s the backstory?
Melissa Colgan: I’m designing Bedroom 3 along with the adjacent bathroom and closet. I’m creating a bedroom inspired by a modern day Bunny Mellon, who may have a bit of the counter-culture motivations of Billie Eilish running through her veins. Maybe the room is for the coolest Granny in the state or maybe it is for a teenager with a very old soul, but either way, I was inspired to take some of the more classical Southern design tropes and play with them in an effort to make “old” ideas feel young and fresh.

Motivated by Mellon’s Bon Vivant mix of the humble with the highbrow, her love of chintz, and her impeccable green thumb, you’ll see motifs, finishes and textures drawing from her nonchalant elegance throughout. Also on display will be haphazard minglings like Giacometti-inspired ironwork with bentwood furniture; gilded finishes crusted with patina and aged with glossy and bright paint colors; and fabrics in a verdant mix of greens with pops of coral and cantaloupe. The room will be an homage to Mellon’s studied and worldly perfectly-imperfect style.


Melissa Colgan designed this bedroom in a Washington, DC condo. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

SM: What’s a favorite element you plan to incorporate into your space at the ASPIRE HOUSE McLean?
MC: It’s a bedroom, so the bed! I want it to be memorable so the mix of fabrics and the color of the painted bed frame itself will be unexpected and fun.

SM: What projects have you done in the past that most resemble or relate in some way to what you plan to design at the ASPIRE HOUSE McLean? Or is this a completely different concept?
MC: This is a pretty new concept. I have worked on a few bedrooms, but in general, in DC, people are a bit more hesitant to use pattern and color. I plan to use a lot of both in my show house bedroom.


A vignette of the Melissa Colgan-designed bedroom in a Washington, DC condo. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

SM: Have you participated in other show houses and why?
MC: This is my first show house. I started my firm a little more than a year ago and have been itching to participate in one and the ASPIRE Show House was the perfect opportunity. The architecture of the space is lovely and the room is perfectly proportioned. The team has been incredible so it was the ideal opportunity.

SM: What’s next for you design wise—are there some projects you’re particularly excited about? Are there any projects you’d love to tackle, sort of a design bucket list?
MC: I have a really fun renovation and addition in Alexandria, Virginia that I am working on. The client loves color and pattern almost as much as I do, so I am having a lot of fun with that.

And I am starting on the designs of two new build homes, one in Washington, DC and one in rural Virginia. I love getting involved at the early stage so I can put my twist on the interior architectural choices. It makes my job so much easier when it comes to decorating.

I would love to design a restaurant or a boutique hotel… you can always have a bit more fun with design choices in those spaces as people don’t live in them all the time and they expect to be surprised and delighted.

I also look forward to designing some vacation or secondary residences. As with hotels, people tend to let their hair down a little in the design of these spaces as they are getaways and meant to invoke a bit more joie de vivre than their primary residences may allow.


The vanity in the Melissa Colgan-designed bedroom in a Washington, DC condo. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

Proceeds for ASPIRE HOUSE: McLean will benefit the ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME Diversity in Design Scholarship Fund. Click here to learn more, and purchase tickets for the event; opening August 21 through September 7, 2020.


About the Designer | Melissa Colgan of Melissa Colgan Interiors is a designer known for spaces that are both classic and Bohemian, but with a nod toward modernity. Prior to establishing her own design firm, Melissa’s work as an interiors and prop stylist was featured in national publications including ELLE DECOR, Veranda, House Beautiful, and Martha Stewart magazines. Since relocating from New York City to Washington, DC, she cut her teeth in the local design industry working for Darryl Carter and Lauren Liess Interiors.

Melissa’s attention to detail and sophisticated color sense results in thoughtful and original designs that are imbued with a layered and worldly spirit. Ever curious, Melissa’s pool of inspiration ranges from the work of the late Billy Baldwin to the textile combinations of fashion designer Dries Van Noten and the architecture and furniture designs of Jean-Michel Frank. Whether decorating a city aerie, a rural farmhouse or a seaside getaway, Melissa’s interiors reflect her belief that the places where we spend our lives should be welcoming, functional and a celebration of individual taste.


Sherry Moeller is a contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine.

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