Smyrna home brims with creativity

Melissa Payne Baker’s home art studio allows her to paint original abstracts on canvas while her son explores the backyard.

“I can see him playing while I’m painting,” she said.

After working out of her garage-level studio in a townhome, the Smyrna home’s layout helps her juggle running a business with motherhood. She turned the laundry room into a part-office, part-mudroom and paints in the separate light-filled studio on the terrace level with backyard views.

In the rest of the Smyrna home, she lightened up the green and dark beige walls with a Sherwin-Williams shade of alabaster white and displayed original artwork by herself and her creative family and friends.

“I love a big, blank wall,” she said. “Art can definitely anchor the design.”


Residents: Rick Baker and Melissa Payne Baker and their son, Payne, and cat, Gesso. Melissa owns Art For Every Palette and Rick works for McKesson in medical sales.

Location: Smyrna

Size: About 3,000 square feet, four bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths

Year built/bought: 2000/2012

Architectural style: French cottage

Favorite architectural elements: French doors that open up to the deck where they often eat dinner, Melissa said.

Renovations: They converted the laundry room into an office and mudroom designed by their neighbor and architect Tim Sandberg and moved the laundry area into their master bathroom closet, which is more convenient, Melissa said. The Bakers used part of the attic space to create a book nook in their son’s room.

Interior design style: Eclectic

Favorite interior design elements: Baker, who describes herself as “constantly in design mode,” employed the interior design knowledge she gained from working in the industry for more than 20 years. Everything in the house seems to have a story, from paintings to unique heirlooms, such as her grandfather’s old paint supplies and artwork and her grandmother’s daffodils and other plants. “I took some of those plants and pressed them between books and dried them, and I made those botanical hangings on the wall (in the stairwell),” Melissa said. “I used to watch my grandmother. She would dry plants between pages of books and then frame them.”

Favorite family-friendly feature: Even the firewood has reminders of her family. In the terrace level, a stack of wood in the bookshelf beside the fireplace was harvested from a favorite tree that fell last year in her parents’ yard in Mississippi. “That’s where I grew up. I told my dad, ‘I want part of that tree,’” she said.

Favorite outdoor elements: Two courtyards and a front yard with herbs and daises that reach about 5 feet tall, Melissa said. The greatest compliment was when someone told her the front yard looked like a French garden, she adds.

Resources: Furniture from Ballard Designs, Nadeau, Scott Antique Market and estate sales.

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