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Designer Melanie King transforms a ’90s traditional into an elegant showplace that seamlessly blends antiques with modern furnishings and fabrics.

The formal living area of the Johnson house features a custom-designed daybed covered in Schumacher fabric. Designer Melanie King chose a contemporary neutral rug by Madison Lily and layered in red tones through custom pillows. King customized the Schumacher Madison wing chairs by adding square nickel nailheads in a Greek key pattern.

Never underestimate the networking power of the mom volunteer corps. Interior designer Melanie King and homeowner Lori Johnson, both of The Woodlands, got to know each other while working on a project at their kids’ school. Johnson had seen King’s work in a friend’s kitchen she admired and decided in 2014 to hire her to redo a room above the garage.

“We bought the house in 2007, and it had great bones,” Johnson says. “It was a 1997 house, and it was all done in greens and golds. The flower basket tile backsplash was a little dated. I had thought it wasn’t so horrible that I couldn’t live with it for a while.”

Anyone who has started small on a house remodel knows what happened next. “I hired Melanie to do a man cave, and then she redid everything in my house!” Johnson recalls. And she couldn’t be happier with the results. Over the past two years, King has worked with Johnson to redo the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and a powder room, as well as the pool bath, library and his-and-hers master bathrooms. In addition to bringing in new furnishings, the team chose updated fabrics and worked around some existing furnishings, rugs and Johnson’s many collections for a feel that is elegant, stylish, fresh, and inviting and relaxing for a family of five.

“Being able to put your own mark on the house makes all the difference in the world,” Johnson says.

The homeowner’s passion for gardening is evident in the home’s lush landscaping.

King appreciated the opportunity to work with a client who wanted to push design boundaries and was open to new ideas. For example, King proposed putting a custom daybed in the formal living room. The space needed more than a bench, less than an additional sofa. “There was a need for seating without closing in the space,’’ the designer says. They settled on Vanderbilt Velvet Dove by Mary McDonald for Schumacher, with legs in a silver leaf finish. (The homeowner admits to a girl crush on designer McDonald, evident in many of the fabric choices throughout the house.)

“It was fun mixing the old with the new,” King says. Other touches include a pair of wing chairs in the library upholstered in fabric by Fret Fabrics. “We put on a modern twist of a fabric and used a cut velvet that wouldn’t have been the norm for this style,” she says. For color throughout the formal areas, King added red to custom sofa pillows, tufted cushions and reupholstered dining chairs. She also worked around the homeowners’ many collections throughout the house, including antique perfume bottles, carpet balls, rose medallion porcelain, cross bottles and leather books.

For the first time, Johnson says, the master bedroom feels like it’s finally hers. “My bedroom had always been where everything else I didn’t know what to do with went. I’d never really decorated it before.”

After two years and a small project that morphed into a big one, King has wrapped up the work on the Johnsons’ house. Her client appreciates a house that feels like her family instead of someone else’s. “I spend more time in my living room now,” Johnson says. “I like walking through my house. My bedroom is very soothing. It’s not some place I walk through and think of as the place that has all the leftovers in it.”

And the room that started it all? Says Johnson: “My husband spends a lot of time in the man cave, probably too much.”


Single-family house

The Woodlands

Melanie King

Fabrics on custom daybed, Madison wing chairs and pillows in living room, plus chairs and drapery throughout the house

Madison Lily
Rug in living room

Pillows, bedcoverings and drapery in master suite

Wallpaper on ceiling in master suite

Light fixture in master suite

Lee Jofa
Upholstery and drapery in master suite sitting area

Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman
Furnishings in master suite and guest bedroom

Walker Zanger
Kitchen counter, backsplash and butler’s pantry

Melanie King
Daybed in living room, custom cabinetry and paneling in men’s study, custom wall and window coverings, details throughout the house