Eclectic Homes

Creativity Captivates at a New Jersey Family Haven

Melissa de la Fuente may also be crowned the Queen of Etsy. Her talent for zeroing in on the best, most wondrously creative handmade discovers is apparent on her favorite blog, Melissa Loves, and at every inch of the home she shares with husband Joel and their two women. A peek into any corner of their home is sure to reward you with the discovery of a new favorite artist or maker, or spark an idea for a DIY job to try in your home. But beyond being packed to the gills with handmade treasures, the de la Fuente abode exudes warmth, love and real joy.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Melissa and Joel de la Fuente plus their two daughters, two dogs and 1 turtle
Location: New Jersey, about 20 minutes out of New York City
Size: 2,395 square feet; 5 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths
That’s intriguing: When Melissa’s oldest daughter was a baby, they drifted in a candy commercial together. Also, Joel recently starred in an independent thriller, Short Reunion.

Photography by Marichelle Hills

The la Fuente home is filled with budget-friendly creative touches, and among the best examples of Melissa’s creativity is in this corner of the dining room. The “background” is only a string of botanical prints tacked to the walls, letting segments of warm yellowish paint to show through between the prints.

A fabric-covered lantern floats over the secretary desk, that has been customized with burlap liner and filled with handmade treasures. A vintage chair keeps the desk company, spruced up with white paint and a cheery yellow cushion.

A pair of little benches in the entry provides a place for shoes and bags. A sunny yellow sign and vintage antler set the tone.

Signal: Perch; antler: Etsy; bag: Valhalla Brooklyn, Etsy

Melissa’s mix study and guest room acts as inspiration principal. A birdcage is suspended over her desk, soft sculpture adorns the walls, and a bulletin board keeps treasured photos shut. On a whim Melissa determined that some present wrap fromRifle Paper was much too pretty to use on presents, therefore she repurposed it as background instead.

“Be Brave” print: Kelli Murray; neon raindrops: Marichelle Hills

Her desk is stocked with favorite style publications and tiny paintings which inspire and spark the imagination.

The kitchen is warm and homey, with a great deal of personal touches. DIY jobs by Melissa (shown here) comprise the painted center, chalkboard cloud and sunny yellow painted floors.

This corner of the kitchen is set up as a coffee and tea bar. Melissa used burlap to make a DIY table skirt and adorned the walls with more artwork.

We asked Melissa about how she decorates her proudest DIY minute, the way she knew this home was “the one” and more.

Laura Gaskill: You’re excited about handmade, independent craft and art — tell us how you found the world of Etsy.
Melissa de la Fuente: I’m always so happy to speak about Etsy and all of the superb talented creatives I’ve met for this. I was searching for Etsy my entire life and did not realize it. I believe I found it through my blogging buddies, Ez Pudewa of Creature Comforts and Holly Becker of all Decor8 — it was back before we had been buddies, but I read their blogs religiously.

Polar bear bust: Tamar Mogendorff; pillow: Leah Duncan

Melissa: I have accumulated so many favorites on Etsy (and many from other sources too). I tell people to locate one shop or artist on Etsy that you adore and then “favorite jump” about to other artists and stores. Weeding out each of the less-than-spectacular things on there’s difficult on your own, if you are only checking it out for the very first time.

But other people, such as myself, have done lots of the job for you, accumulating favorites for years! So, why not explore their Favorites page, and through them you may discover other people to follow along with other stores to explore. This is my Favorites page on Etsy, just in case, and that I pin quite a few to my boards on Pinterest.

Clouds: Marichelle Hills; banner: Ez Pudewa; gloomy bird: Astulabee; pinecone: Margie Oomen; golden and blue vase: Up in the Air Somewhere; display crates: Jersey Ice Cream

Melissa: Marichelle made this superb small hot air balloon, for our pop up shop we did at my home last autumn. I was fortunate enough for to maintain this one.

Laura: What do you love most in your property?
Melissa: I love that It’s older and has so much history and charm. I really like it is tall and when you are on the upper floors, you feel as though you are in a tree house a little bit. I really like it is warm and comfy, and that my family is happy. This pouf [revealed here in the dining room]is one of my favorite things we own, handed down to us by Joel’s mom and dad.

Laura: In case your home could explain itself in 3 words, would do you believe that it would say?
Melissa: “Old, loved and happy.”

Melissa: that I really like our front door and the stained glass at the home. You are able to see where the stained glass was ruined long ago by one of the previous owners.The patch occupation is kind of hilarious, but we’d like to get it repaired properly. We have met a number of the now-grown children from the previous family to get our house. They explained it was a Superman game gone wrong that broke the window.

Laura: You have said you think of this as your “forever house.” How or when did you know that it was “the one”?
Melissa: I think the moment we stepped on the front porch. I love front porches and’d always wanted one. Images of sipping coffee there or laughing with friends … my women relaxing out there, reading a book. These images made me happy. When we walked inside and saw the gorgeous light and specifics, we had been sold.

Bird mirror: Flux glas, Etsy

Laura: Proudest DIY job?
Melissa: Hmm … probably my dining room table. I had been on the lookout for a large, round table, and my friend Marichelle saw one in a yard sale and called me, understanding I was searching. It was be the childhood table of a friend of ours. They gave it to me for $50! I painted it attentively, based on an amazing tutorial in my friend Barb’s blog, Knack Studios. That woman has quite a way with paint also thanks to her, it was just how I desired.

Laura: What is next on your list?
Melissa: I am not sure! I feel like I’m always moving things about, painting things, rearranging. However, if we had the money, I’d really like to update our basement. Make it a hangout for the children, a workshop for me and just generally brilliant.

Giraffe: Wren Handmade; print: Janet Hill; mirror framework: Working Class Studios

Melissa: I only recently repainted my kitchen floor, my temporary fixes until the afternoon we can replace it. Luna likes to maintain guard right by that particular flower.

Laura: what’s your weakness? What can not you pass up?
Melissa: Oh … so many flaws. Shiny things, artwork, soft sculpture, bright pink, gold, dogs … oops! How did that get in there?

Laura: Where is your favorite place in the home?
Melissa: I guess that our living room. It’s the heart of the home, I believe. We gravitate there, and it becomes fairly mild in the daytime. This sofa sees a great deal of films, snuggles, reading and quite a few meals also. I truly love every one of the rooms inside our home; they all have this type of character.

Pink blossom: The House that Lars Built

Melissa: I adore fireplaces, and we use ours a lot. We also make s’mores in there sometimes!

Mobile: Specks & Maintaining; golden cloud and “Love” artwork: Stepanka; mirror decal: Shanna Murray; print: Laura George

Laura: What do you believe makes a house a home?
Melissa: Well, I think that it is how much love you put into it. I know that is not everyone’s priority or forte, but for me, it is a necessity. I want the chambers to tell a story, the places where your eyes remainder to make you feel secure, happy, inspired or comfy.

Print: Yard Sale Press

Melissa: that I really like the quote “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” I’d say, “My design is not for everybody, but it is passionately left” Smells mean a great deal to me, brightness, textures. I’ve pretty strong associations with things, so if something does not make me seem to match my character, I can not let it in.

Melissa: My smallest one’s room, along with my favorite garland from Weekday Carnival, lots of pictures and a rabbit decal from Love Mae.

Laura: Who or what are you really inspired by?
Melissa: I’m inspired by Deborah Needleman’s book The Perfectly Imperfect Home and Mary Randolph Carter’s A Totally Kept House Is the Sign of a Misspent Life — for the beautiful interiors and imaginative solution to decorating, but also because it gives us all permission to be ideal in our houses. Which I’m good at!

Melissa: Most of all, I’m inspired by my children and trying to make a home that makes them feel appreciated, loved, secure and inspired.

Laura: If I gave you a can of chalkboard paint, what could you do with it?
Melissa: I’d paint one entire wall, in our dream basement redo. Then everybody could put in their two cents’ worth or draw a photo, leave a reminder or quote. Be heard.

Melissa: This is a tiny landing between the second floor and next. I believed it’d be a nice small reading nook.

Potted blossom: Tamar Mogendorff; framed print: Coral & Tusk

Melissa: At the top of the staircase to the next floor, in which our bedroom, bathroom and office are. Some of my favorite things: “Life Is Beauty-full” from Sugarboo Designs, two mushrooms from Tamar Mogendorff and a framed cartoon my hubby drew me for my birthday. His drawings make me happy.

Melissa: Our bedroom, together with more beautiful things made by Etsy artists and friends. The small little dream catcher was a present from Marichelle, as well as the linen shams were from Cottage and Cabin Interiors.

Laura: What’s been your greatest splurge?
Melissa: You know the truth is that I don’t splurge a great deal on things for our residence. I wish I did a tiny bit longer. But I’d say it’d be my bits with Tamar Mogendorff. She is one of my absolute favorites, and I’ve quite a number of her bits.

Birdcages: Tamar Mogendorff

Melissa: Our toilet makes me happy. It is a great place take a bath to unwind and read a book that is good.

Melissa: The sink and faucet is among my favorite things. I wonder if it is original to the home? And our small puppy, Luna, another of my favorite things, definitely not original to the home. Don’t look at the gnome under the table. I am not a big fan of gnomes, but there’s one under that tiny table anyway. It’s kind of a joke with my hubby and me. Sometimes he moves about the home, and we try to surprise you another.

Melissa: Though our back door could use a new paint job, the decal out of beautiful Shanna Murray is among my faves. I hope that it makes my husband and wives happy to come home.

Laura: Exactly what do you want your women to keep in mind about this home?
Melissa: Oh, that is so dear to my heart. I want them to keep in mind they were loved more than anything else in this home. They had been allowed to be who they are and celebrated for that. I want them to remember having fun and being safe. I hope they always wish to come home. Then I’d be the sexiest girl in the world.

See related