Get to Know: M Hill Rees Interiors on Making a Pretty House a Home
Welcome to a new occasional series profiling local interior designers. First up are Melissa Rees and Chrishuna Wilkerson, lead designers at M Hill Rees Interiors.
Names: Melissa Rees and Chrishuna Wilkerson
Business: M Hill Rees
Designer Who Inspires Me: Ali Budd Interiors
For interior designer Melissa Rees, the most important investment in a project is time with the client.
“When tackling a new interior design project, you need to learn to listen 一 not just to what is said, but to how the client interacts with their home,” Rees says. “A big part of our job is understanding our client because if we don’t, we can create a pretty house, but we want to make it a home.”
The owner and co-lead designer at M Hill Rees Interiors, a residential interior design firm in Point Breeze, Rees says she has been fascinated with interior design since she was a child. She used to constantly rearrange her room and meticulously planned her Barbie doll house.
“If anyone wanted to play Barbies with me, I needed to set up the house,” Rees says. “It was what made me happy.”
Rees earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which is where she met fellow interior designer Chrishuna Wilkerson. Both graduated in 2016; Rees opened M. Hill Rees the following year, with Wilkerson joining as the co-lead designer last March.
Besides using the space for interior design, Rees sells her own line of home accessories in her studio. Live Prim offers various decorative dishes, faux pampas, bookends and coasters. Wilkerson also sells wax candles and essential oils in the space for her business, Light the Vibe. Rees says both lines enhance her passion for styling.
“One of my favorite parts of design is styling because I think if you put just furniture in a room, it never looks finished, so I wanted to start an accessory business,” she says. “My whole aim is to help people find what can enhance their home and give them access to what feels proper to them.”
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She adds her favorite project to date is a townhouse renovation she and Wilkerson are currently working on for a couple on the North Side. The two are renovating the living room, kitchen and powder room as well as adding architectural details that reflect the homeowners’ lives.
“The husband is a private chef and the wife is from Brooklyn, and she grew up in a brownstone. It was important for her to have a brick wall somewhere so that she can have those elements of living,” Rees says. “The husband loves suits, so we wanted to bring in details with some patterns and textures that would be reminiscent of menswear in the kitchen.”
After the homeowners told Rees and Wilkerson about a trip they took to France’s Champagne region, the designers incorporated elements from the couple’s favorite bottle of champagne, Veuve Clicquot, into the design.
“We used a wallpaper on the back of the glass cabinet that has bottle details of different drinks and then we incorporated the color orange 一 not just because it was the wife’s favorite color, but it’s also reflective of their favorite champagne,” Rees says.
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Rees says they also were inspired by the Art Deco interior of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Downtown, where the couple married.
“The hotel has green chairs, so we had a green vanity. In the lobby, they have a wall of bird cages, so we incorporated bird cages into the light fixtures,” she says.
Up next, Rees says her goal is to pursue more new construction projects, where she and Wilkerson can design the homes from start to finish.
“I love to not only pick furniture, but also to have a say about the finishes, partition walls and the interior of the building; I love architectural details and working with contractors and architects,” Rees says. “I think there’s something really beautiful about being able to create a home from the beginning.”