Podcast, Ep. 224: designer Mikel Welch

Designer Mikel Welch on the How to Decorate Podcast

Designer Mikel Welch

We are thrilled to welcome the talented and hilarious Mikel Welch this week. Mikel shares his colorful journey with us from becoming an interior designer and TV show host, going from offering free design on Craigslist, to now working on The Drew Barrymore show and co-hosting Roku’s Murder House Flip. Mikel talks with us about how set design informed his perspective on home decor, the bold move he made with Steve Harvey that paid off, how he taught himself design, and the importance of knowing what you are working with before you commit to anything in design. Mikel also has great advice for spray painting, finding the right plants, and navigating thrift stores.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Mikel has always been bold and not afraid to jump in and say “yes”.
  • Posting on Craigslist to help people decorate one room led to Mikel meeting a decorator on Dexter, which opened his mind to the wonderful world of set design.
  • From Jerseylicious to The Steve Harvey Show to Design Star, what are some of Mikel’s takeaways from set design and TV?
  • What is it really like working with Drew Barrymore?
  • His rule of thumb — if you can touch it, it needs to be real!
  • How Mikel creates drama when working with a neutral palette.
  • What’s really behind those big barn doors in his NYC apartment.
  • The importance of planning out the scale and laying out images to see if the elements work.
  • Ways we can create impact and have fun with spray paint.
  • Why Mikel calls showhomes the gift that keeps giving and his love of Kips Bay.
  • His thrift store rules learned from Emily Henderson. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no! And always do a second lap.

Decorating Dilemma

Hi lovely ladies of How to Decorate!

I’ve been listening to your podcast for years and I am obsessed. I’ve learned so much from you all and your guests, and it is the highlight of my week!

I am fairly confident in my decorating skills. I attended an art school from 3rd grade through high school and studied art history for my undergrad. I’m a librarian now, but decorating is my hobby.

That being said, you wouldn’t know it from how my house looks. I’m from Virginia but I live in San Diego. I have such a hard time with Southern California architecture and style. My husband and I just bought our first house this past July, after renting an 800 square foot duplex (albeit with an ocean view). Now we live in a three-bedroom three-bathroom two story house in a suburb. I love the location and the fact that we back up to a canyon, so we can’t see any neighbors from our backyard.

The house was built in 1980 and everything is original. There was only one owner before us and everything was well taken care of. Right now everything is dated but not needing to be urgently replaced (knock on wood).

We are in the process of splitting our large upstairs hall bath. We are moving the laundry from the garage to the new laundry room upstairs. The hall bath will be smaller, but I’m happy to have an upstairs laundry. That design is complete and we are just waiting on the cabinets to be manufactured before the install begins (probably another 6-8 weeks). The laundry and bath ended up being what I call “bachelor pad chic” because I compromised and let my husband do a lot of choosing. I’m picking my battles wisely. If he had it his way our entire house would be various shades of grey tile with can lighting everywhere.

I’m looking to decorate the nursery next, and that is where I come to you for advice! I’m having trouble arranging the furniture. Things are looking awkward. I can’t seem to balance the room visually- the window is throwing me off because it is on the very side of one of the walls. I’m not terribly attached to any of the furniture except for the crib and the footstool (a gift). The crib skirt needs to be hemmed or replaced. I bought it on clearance, and it always seems to move itself and looks sloppy.

The glider is not our ‘original’ one we purchased for the nursery- this one I got on auction for $50. We were keeping our ‘good’ glider in the living room while our son was an infant, and now we’re attached to having it there. (we’re going to be rearranging our living room later this month when we get a new TV, so we might move it upstairs).

The theme of the nursery will be Beatrix Potter. Our son is already 14 months old and I’d like to have some time with the nursery theme before he grows out of it.

I’m planning to buy a mural for one of the walls, and possibly split it into three panels with a faux frame made of molding. I may mount the mural to something and hang it on the wall in three large vertical panels. I attached an image of a sample of the mural with some paint chips I was looking at for color matching.

Eventually I will be getting crown molding installed, but that will probably happen at a later date. I was going to wait to redecorate until after I install the molding, but I’m getting antsy. The blinds can be replaced- they’re from the original owners.

I also have three medium sized paintings of Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter characters I painted while I was pregnant. I have not framed them yet.

The only other thing that is definitely going in the room is a quilt rack with a shelf. My aunt sewed a quilt for the baby that I would like to hang.

I’d love y’all’s input on arranging the furniture, paint color, and overall, any advice for this room!

Thank you,

Melissa

Hi Melissa! Thanks for writing in. Mikel loves your Pinterest board of wonderfulness but wants to narrow it down so we can get down to what will work best. First, start with wallpaper, which should be the backdrop. Mikel would like to see soft white trim, which would make it bright and airy, and really balance things off. For the awkward window, large drapery is one option. Another can be a singular rod with pinch-pleated draped, in a solid color.  In terms of furniture,  consider spray painting the dresser so it matches the crib and swapping out the hardware for something more modern. Your artwork may work great on a larger wall as your impact pieces, and it will pick up on the wallpaper just across the way. We know you believe the layout is awkward, but make some of these changes and we think you will be pleasantly surprised! Last but not least, Mikel has to say it — the carpet has got to go! If you rip it out in just the nursery, hopefully, there’s something great underneath. You’ve got the bones, now you just have to lay everything down!

Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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