When your client is pushing 200,000 followers on Instagram, you better believe she needs a trendy, photo-ready space to call home. But that wasn’t the case for colorful content creator Melanie Sutrathada, who never posted her New York City apartment because it never felt like her. With its beige walls, dark leather sofas, and plain black wooden tables, it was quite the opposite, actually. There was nothing wrong with it—it simply lacked personality. So Brooke and Gabriel Anderson, the husband-wife team behind design firm Dean & Dahl, signed on to help her change that, focusing their energy on her open living room.
As a starting point for the project, the Andersons looked to Sutrathada’s own Instagram account. “Thankfully, we had hundreds of pictures from Melanie’s Instagram feed to inspire us for the types of ways she shoots,” said designer Brooke Anderson. “We then used that as our compass to create plenty of backdrops and versatility for her in the apartment.”
The first order of business was an Instaworthy accent wall of pink flamingo patterned wallpaper, shown above, which Sutrathada says is her favorite feature in the space. “Melanie is bright and joyful,” says Gabriel Anderson. “I reached for colors that evoke that same energy.” Instead of hanging the paper the regular way, the Andersons created architectural insets by placing pieces of simple molding between the panels for more visual openness between the flamingos. This is a great hack if you want to use a bold patterned wallpaper but are afraid it might make your room look too busy.
From there, the designers brought in furnishings in shades of pink and coral to pull the room together. According to Brooke Anderson, her husband’s ability to layer pattern and color is his superpower. The secret is to include enough neutrals for a visual break. The perfect example of that is those cute cactus Roman shades. Their beige background keeps them from feeling too wild. For that same reason, all of the furniture was intentionally understated—most pieces adhere to a tan, beige, and white color palette with just a few hits of glam gold for good measure. “Melanie’s life is fast-paced and requires her to shoot on the fly,” Gabriel Anderson says. “We worked to make the living room pieces flexible enough to match her ever-evolving needs.”
The Instagrammer also needed a space that could act as a studio during the day and a retreat each evening. Pieces had to be moveable and multi-functional, so Dean & Dahl turned to Schwartz Design Showroom for the Thayer Coggin sofa, Century Furniture nesting cocktail tables, and a small scaled chair with a big personality from Shine By S.H.O. Now the assortment consists of investment pieces that don’t feel overly formal. “I wanted to be able to host in the space and have friends kick up their feet without feeling like anything was too precious,” Sutrathada says. “Overall, I wanted to feel the way I do when I go to Disneyland—like anything can happen and that there are no bad days!”