Designer Crush: Julie Massucco Kleiner and Melissa Warner Rothblum of Massucco Warner Miller

1. How did you each get into the design world?  

Julie: I earned a degree in design, and went to work at a large architectural firm (doing commercial interiors) in NYC upon graduation. After a few years of working on the executive offices at the EPA headquarters I knew that commercial interiors were not my thing-I made a move to San Francisco and sought a position at a high end residential firm, and from there the rest is history. Once I started my own business I’ve never looked back!
 
Melissa: I think design has always been in my blood. As a little girl, I would wake my dad up at night asking him to re-arrange my room and my bookshelves were a constant accessorizing project. My grandma and I used to cruise the neighborhood looking at houses and picking our favorites. When I was nearly done earning my business degree I had the realization that as much as I love business, and still do, that I needed to pursue a career in interior design. Two weeks after graduation I started design school and never turned back!
 
2. You’ve each worked on both coasts - what distinguishes California style from Seattle style when it comes to interior design?
 
We have been lucky to have clients across the US, and have had several projects in both California and Seattle that are direct nods to East Coast coastal/shingle style-Weathered grey shingles, white trim, classic architectural details all feel as though they would easily exist in Maine or the coast of Massachusetts or Eastern Long Island. The one thing that was an initial surprise working in Seattle after having done a lot of work in California is the lack of white wood (albeit painted  millwork or as furniture) and lack of brighter colors used in Seattle, at least in recent years. We are hoping to change that, however! Seattle won’t know how this much color hit them. 
 
3. What’s your process for getting to know a new client?
 
Spending time together looking at fabric and furniture schemes, shopping together and going through a current home or style book they may have made (online or a hard copy) It’s true that pictures are worth a thousand words, and while not all of our clients bring any images to the table, it’s an immense help to see anything they gravitate towards-interiors, fashion, lifestyle shots.  
 
4. Colors and textures are central to your aesthetic; are there any go-to favorites that you love to integrate into any home?
 
I’d say our projects rarely escape having some surface swathed in wool fabric (current favorites are heavy wool herringbone from Holland & Sherry) plus a generous helping of jute/sisal or grasscloth or all 3- Conrad woven shades, Stark Jute rugs and Schumacher grasscloth walls are perennial favorites that we use on repeat. As for color-That seems to be all over the board, since there really isn’t a color we don’t like. As of late, blue hues mixed with plums and some deep yellows are making us excited for fall!
 
5. What’s been the most challenging project to date and how did you overcome the obstacles?
 
Designing new construction projects in far flung and remote destinations has been our most challenging work to date. When you find yourself stranded in a blizzard on  Lake Erie waiting on a semi-truck full of furniture for the install, it’s a nail biter. And not to mention getting in and out of destinations like this. I guess it’s not really design problems so much as logistics of implementing said design! We’re up for the challenge nonetheless! 
 
6. Who are your celebrity dream clients and what do you envision for their homes?
 
I haven’t thought too much about a celebrity client, but my (Julie) dream client would be my son when he gets his first house! (he’s only 7 now). I hope his future spouse is OK with a semi-involved mother in law who comes over all the time to rearrange the furniture and style bookshelves-ha!
 
7. What’s your biggest design pet peeve that you want to address once and for all?
 
Seeing too small area rugs that don’t cover enough of the room! This bugs me to no end, and retailers should start offering larger rugs – a 5 x 7 rug is typically only sized for an Entry, yet it seems that that’s a common size to see “anchoring” a living room but the whole room just feels OFF to me.  
 
8. Describe your ultimate fantasy vacation.
 
A week at a sunshine-drenched villa just outside of Florence, with zero agenda except some wine drinking under olive trees poolside, and wandering around the streets of Florence with a quick jaunt to Siena!
 
Julie’s Lightning round!
 
9. Ice cream or fro yo?

Ice Cream!
 
10. Cats or dogs?
 
Fish
 
11. Coffee or tea?
 
Coffee, coffee, and more coffee.
 
12. Skirt and heels or jeans and sneakers?
 
Jeans and sneakers. 
 
13. Early bird or night owl?
 
Early bird.
 
14. Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber?
 
JT without question!
 
Melissa’s Lightning round!
 
9. Ice cream or fro yo?
 
Ice cream…no brainer!
 
10. Cats or dogs?
 
Dogs.
 
11. Coffee or tea?
 
Tea.
 
12. Skirt and heels or jeans and sneakers?
 
Skirt and heels. 
 
13. Early bird or night owl?
 
Night owl.
 
14. Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber?
 
Justin Timberlake.