What does storytelling have to do with interior design? If you were to ask Melinda Ritz, everything. Since leaving her 27 year career in film, as well as the hit television show “Will & Grace”—for which she went on to win 3 Emmy awards and receive 7 nominations for art direction—Melinda can still be found building compelling backstories and conveying those traits within an environment. Only this time, her work is not confined to the flat sets of a sound stage but live and breath inside of multi-million dollar homes.
“I take my client’s personality and preferences into account just like I would for a character on screen. It’s really all about telling a story through each individual I work with and showing them the path to a great life.”
Theatrical, calm, contemporary or antique, Melinda’s designs reflect a particular home’s architecture as well as the lifestyle of the people living in it. After forming Melinda Ritz Interiors in 1996, this former set decorator has gone on to serve such high-profile clients as Ellen Degeneres and Ryan Seacrest, working on gorgeous homes from Florida and New York to Brentwood and Manhattan Beach. One such private residence, a 1930’s Tudor House in Beverly Hills, graced the cover of Elle Decor. Between choosing a paint color for the walls and adding the last finishing touches, a great deal of characterization goes into Melinda’s labor of love, and we were intrigued to learn more.
What’s an important distinction between designing spaces on set as opposed to inside a home?
Obviously in set decoration, you just need to make everything look good for the duration of a scene or episode, yet homes have to exemplify not only beauty but quality, character and comfort over the long-term. Learning how to design and build quality furniture for homes was essential as I transitioned to interior design. My previous role on set taught me to get it right the first time, make immediate choices with confidence and have no one wait for me, which are all traits that my clients appreciate today.
What goes through your mind upon meeting a client for the first time?
I read the architecture, hear the story, find the obvious problems that need addressing, and all the clues lead me in a certain direction. Sometimes clients lack a clear direction, but with my ability to tell a story behind the characters, I get a picture of how these particular clients should live, how they would entertain, how they should feel, and how to maximize the overall value of the property even if they don’t know that at the beginning.
How do you sell them on a feeling?
Sometimes, I go around and shop for pillows, vases, bedding and throws and create a visual showroom in the living room—that way my clients can see how everything pulls together and how even the smallest of details help to tell the overall story.
Where do you “shop” if the marketplace doesn’t have what you’re looking for?
Now that I’m fully in the interior design field, I use Warner Brothers as my production studio to do almost all my custom manufacturing. It’s like its my own personal production facility and its all done in one place.
Tell us about the 9th dimension.
I know that no such dimension actually exists, but it does in my world. It’s what I call the final “layer” of quality that I bring to each client, an intangible sense that all of the characteristics of a home, from comfort to entertaining, come together in harmony. Only when I’ve reached this 9th dimension do I consider my endeavor to be a successful one.
For further information, be sure to visit: melindaritz.com