They may work more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) apart, but top interior designers Melissa Warner Rothblum and Julie Massucco Kleiner are always on the same page when creating their eye-catching interiors. “We’ve always shared similar design aesthetics, work ethics, and a similar approach to business and client services,” says Warner Rothblum. “We’re so in sync that we still find that we separately pull out the same fabrics or furnishings for clients.”
The pair met in 2003 while “sat about five feet apart” at a design practice in San Francisco, where they eventually became senior designers—traveling to Miami, Washington D.C., Manhattan, and beyond for residential projects. They established their own company in 2008 and launched with a bang at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase of the same year.
There are many beautiful houses out there, but to us a home is something that feels way more personal and has a soul and life of its own—Melissa Warner Rothblum
Collaborating Across Cities
Today, with Warner Rothblum based in Los Angeles and Massucco Kleiner in Seattle, the pair admits that “we work together a little differently than many partnerships, but for us it works just perfectly.”
While they share a design team that works on all of the firm’s projects, and collaborate on out-of-town commissions as much as possible, the distance does mean practicalities often have to be prioritized. “When a project is local to one of us, it’s typically most efficient to have just one principal designer leading the way. That being said, as our tastes and preferences are so similar, our overall body of work always looks consistent.”
Do they ever disagree? “We’ve been beyond lucky and really do see eye to eye on the goals for our business. When it comes to big decisions, we really have to trust in each other. That trust has served us well, and also gives us each our own sense of ownership and responsibility.”
A New Take on Classic Style
They describe their schemes as a “fresh take on traditional. We love furniture with classic lines and reinventing it with unexpected fabric, unique details, chic patterns and finishes,” and admit to loving dressmaker details—the homes they create will often feature interesting nail-head patterns, an unexpected tape trim, or custom pleats on a leading edge of drapery.
With expert upholsterers and seamstresses on speed dial who “make our custom pieces come to life,” the duo also loves sourcing vintage and antique pieces, as well as the right fabrics and trimmings. “The search for the perfect fit, whether it be fabric, furniture, or art, is always worthwhile,” observes Warner Rothblum.
Massucco Warner clients receive a hands-on, full-service approach. “We like to provide a curated collection of furnishings and fabrics that really suit our clients, yet also give them choices so their home really feels like theirs. Once they select what they like, we take care of the rest—so, on installation all they need to do is enjoy their beautiful new home.”
The search for the perfect fit, whether it be fabric, furniture, or art, is always worthwhile—Melissa Warner Rothblum
Upcoming projects for the pair include homes in the Pacific Palisades, San Juan Islands, San Francisco, Bel Air, and Seattle —”they’re all such different landscapes, which keeps things fun and interesting.” But their ultimate spot for aesthetic appeal is Japan. “There’s so much amazing design inspiration there, not to mention history and sushi. Sounds dreamy all around!”
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So, what do their own homes look like? “Like many of our clients, we both have families, so disguised durability lives alongside lots of color and pattern,” Warner Rothblum laughs. “But we both have a weakness for art and accessories, so we’re constantly trying to perfectly place beautiful items we’ve picked up through the years and on our travels.”
“There are many beautiful houses out there, but to us a home is something that feels way more personal and has a soul and life of its own.”
Banner image: Abstract print upholstery in a Beverly Hills home. G. Crawford