Michael Carter: Melrose House Extravaganza
December 20, 2011
It’s always been inspiring to walk into the Webster & Company showroom in Boston. From the first day David Webster opened his doors to the design community over twenty years ago, you always walked in to find something exceptional both in product and presentation. Of all the amazing lines that the Webster crew has brought to Boston over the years, the Rose Tarlow Melrose House line of furniture, fabrics, wallpapers and accessories was perhaps the most exciting–and, moreover, useful–I had ever encountered as a design professional. I realized immediately that I had a real winner, something that I could really incorporate into my own work, which satisfied my desire for a timeless aesthetic but was still chic and of the highest quality. My clients loved it because it was approachable–comfortable, casual, but clearly a step above the usual. I was the first Boston designer to place an order after the Webster introduction: a custom settee. It was a hit, it looked stunning in the client’s foyer and the room was published in Traditional Home magazine the following year.
So imagine my excitement when I was invited by David Webster to join him in Los Angeles to view the entire collection in the new Melrose House showroom! I think I said yes so fast and so emphatically that it startled him. It seemed like a golden opportunity; little did I know that it would be such an inspirational and transformative experience.
Photos courtesy of Michael Carter
As luck would have it, the trip to LA coincided with my fiftieth birthday. Great!Â I brought along my wonderful partner in life, David Rousseau, and my amazing partner in design, Douglas Truesdale, and off we went via Virgin America along with David Webster and collection manager John Becker. First in a long line of design accolades would be to the brand-new aircraft on which we flew. It was almost futuristic, with violet and pink mood lighting and touchscreen menus to allow full customization of Â your dining and entertainment experience.
We were met at LAX by a driver named Marshall who made the next three days the most seamless and pleasurable driving experiences I’ve ever had in LA. He knew how to navigate around the infamous traffic, and during those unavoidable back-ups, we all jammed inside to the ’70s on 7 Sirius satellite radio (as a testament to our â€œyouth,â€ we all knew the words to all the songs and found ourselves singing along to Michael Jackson and Stevie Nicks).
But the real red carpet rolled out as we arrived at Melrose House on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. This would be home base for our VIP visit, and what a home base!Â This was the brand-new business headquarters and showroom that proffered the ultimate vision of Rose Tarlow and her collection. The building was impressive in its architectural statement: a whitewashed stucco structure that spices California clean and casual with a colonial South African flavor. Inside a two-storied showroom invoking a quiet calm was the hallowed hall of all things Melrose House–aÂ trophy room of exquisite furnishings and fabrics, soft in its mood, strong in its rich character of finishes and bold in its unique forms.
So naturally I was both curious and excited to meet this doyenne of design, the legendary Rose Tarlow (recently confirmed by Architectural Digest‘s AD100 list in December). And she did not disappoint. Ageless in appearance (somewhere between fifty and…), confident but not cavalier in her demeanor, she clearly marches to the beat of her own drum. The fun part for me was her delight in meeting David–not David Webster, but my husband David, who is a veterinarian. Almost glued to Rose’s side was her apricot poodle, Ollie, and Rose asked David three times to examine him asking, â€œDo you think he’ll live to be twenty-two?â€ On day three, David in his infinite wisdom said â€œyes.â€ Such is the benefit of a spouse who appeals to animal lovers.