Reinventing Classic with Melissa Haynes

Designer Melissa Haynes blends a traditional layout with contemporary accents for a client with teenage children.

The home’s mix of traditional and contemporary is especially pronounced in the living room, where such elements as a pair of French-influenced chairs are seen alongside a large-scale brass-and-shagreen coffee table.

Text: Tiffany Adams
Photos: Rett Peek

Built in the early 2000s, this Fayetteville, Arkansas, residence was ready for updates when the owner purchased it in 2018. Desiring to create a comfortable and welcoming yet still polished home for himself and his teenage daughter and son, he called on designer Melissa Haynes (

of Studio MH to update the interiors. “He wanted something the kids would love in a neighborhood with people they knew. This house has a great outdoor area, and he knew we could make updates to the inside to fit their family,” says Haynes.

Reinventing Classic

In the newly created entry, guests are greeted with a Biedermeier-style chest paired with a work by Andy Warhol. 

Reinventing Classic

The spacious living room was designed to offer places for spending time together and for retreat, such as the upholstered blue bench near the fireplace.

Reinventing Classic

A formerly maize yellow kitchen that Haynes says was “dramatic and heavy” was lightened in both palette and materials to reflect the owner’s love of clean and simple spaces.

Reinventing Classic

Not only is the adjoining breakfast nook used for everyday meals, but it is also an extension of the living space with room for homework and laptops.

Reinventing Classic

In the study, a Phillip Jeffries’s wallpaper made from wood veneer pieces gives pattern and dimension. A sophisticated abstract work by New Orleans artist Mallory Page hangs over the sofa.

Reinventing Classic

In the daughter’s bedroom, a work by Arkansas artist Kellie Lehr complements an ethereal light fixture.

Reinventing Classic

The master bedroom and en suite bath feature a light gray and blue palette reflective of the rest of the home.

Interestingly, the style of the home was previously French Country; however, it had a more contemporary, almost entirely open plan on the ground floor. Haynes’ first goal was to make the space match the home’s more traditional exterior and, most importantly, the needs of the family. “I’m traditional when it comes to interior architecture,” says the designer. “I want to be able to travel room to room without seeing everything at once.” Speaking to this, walls went up to create a true entry at the front door, and cased openings were added to retain an airy flow yet not give everything away all at once. “Before, you could see the kitchen from the front door; now, you just get a peek of the other rooms to come,” she says. Similarly, in the master bath, one open space was traded for designated areas for the bath, shower, vanity, and water closet, while upstairs, an awkward layout was converted to three en suite bedrooms, giving each child a private space as well as providing an additional room for guests.


While the home has an overall gentlemanly aesthetic, Haynes was given free reign to thoughtfully curate the rooms. “A bachelor pad was not at all what he was imagining,” she says of the homeowner. “He is approachable, Southern, gregarious, and has a keen, edited eye.”

Perhaps the most masculine space is the study, which is located near the front entry. Here, a Phillip Jeffries wood veneer wallcovering envelops the room, creating a warm yet still contemporary feel. The mix is expanded upon by a current take on a Chesterfield sofa in the form of a sectional along with a two-tone writing desk. “This is really the definition of a multipurpose room,” says Haynes, noting it’s a space for quality family time and movie marathons as much as it is an office. “He wanted to be able to be with his kids, even when they are studying or he is finishing up a work project,” she says. “And this room offers all those functions.” Other common rooms follow the same guidelines. The main living room has comfortable, classic furniture, where the kids can listen to music or even eat a bowl of cereal amidst a backdrop of contemporary art and eye-catching accessories, while the kitchen’s adjoining breakfast nook is often used for laptop work or lounging before meals.

Desiring to reflect the family’s personality, Haynes also considered their hobbies and interests in addition to their needs. Case in point, the artwork seen in the breakfast nook reflects their love of sailing and time spent at Martha’s Vineyard, while the piece in the dining room depicts skiers racing down a mountain, a favorite winter pastime. “He really wanted his kids to feel comfortable here and have a place that was their own,” says Haynes. “And we thought of that every step of the way.”

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