This Los Angeles jewelry designer puts her own vintage-inspired style stamp on her inspired home that’s become her industrial loft oasis.
“I collect anything that’s totally ridiculous and difficult to move,” jokes Melissa McClure, as she points out a shelf of pristine antique typewriters and some weathered wooden clock cases. “When I see old machinery, I just can’t help myself.”
Thankfully, this fifth-generation jewelry designer, 37, has no shortage of space in her artsy industrial 2,500-square-foot loft tucked behind a storefront in Mid-City L.A., a few miles east of Culver City. “I love that it’s gritty around here,” she says with a wicked smile. “I have the 18th Street gang two blocks behind me and the 10 freeway right in front of me.”
A year and a half ago, the native Texan — who’s warm, gutsy and quick to laugh at herself — got a glimpse of this raw bi-level space and immediately spotted potential in its sheer size and soaring 36-foot ceilings. (A commercial photographer had used the loft as a studio, so McClure had to rip out drapes and gut walls.) She fell for the unique fixtures, like the old Coca-Cola machine and a gleaming 1950s O’Keefe & Merritt stove.
“My specialty is lavender cakes,” says McClure, who loves to bake and has enough cordial glasses and champagne flutes to throw an impromptu party for dozens. And on occasion, she does just that. “The term ‘single’ is outmoded,” she says. “I’m surrounded by people all the time.”
But art, nature and industry have a greater influence on her style of decor. “I am not a believer in looking at a catalog and making my home look like those pages,” she says. Indeed, the loft feels like a chic laboratory, with its preponderance of mid-century steel-and-chrome furnishings blended with pops of flora, artfully arranged faux fruit and even tiny lifelike birds perched in the nooks of doorways and on mirrors. McClure creates a collage by craftily assembling an oversized glass decanter or cake plate, old black-and-white photos of her family, and feathers, a bird’s nest or a seashell.
“That’s my welcome sign,” she says of the vintage neon giant in the foyer that reads “Valley Gem Shop.” (She scored it at a salvage shop in Silver Lake.) It symbolizes her appreciation for the past and defines her current livelihood.
McClure, who studied at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and has designed jewelry for seven years, displays some of her delicate gold pieces in a curio cabinet. Hand-forged twigs of 18-karat gold are fashioned into a statement cuff that encircles the arm; gold branch earrings dangle elegantly.
Reese Witherspoon and Halle Berry are both fans of her distinctive designs. “Nature is the greatest source of inspiration, because anything that can be imagined already exists in nature,” says McClure, who does her goldsmith work in an area on the first floor.
Upstairs, she has created a living space that includes her “monastic” bedroom, a study in minimalism with only a platform bed and a burled-wood armoire. “That’s something I took from an old relationship,” she says of the piece. “I usually like to start fresh, but I just love that.” The breezy living room — with an old Victorian sofa and a series of wall portraits of her cat, Monkey, posing like Linda Evangelista — gets soaked with sunlight from a skylight above.
“I’m not a crazy cat lady, I swear!” McClure insists. Still, she admits that living with a cat requires no battles over what color to paint the kitchen or how to arrange the furniture. “It’s nice that I don’t have to compromise with anyone, and I like the freedom of being able to do whatever I want on a whim.”
Copyright © Monica Corcoran / 2010 Singular Communications, LLC.