MARRYING THE PAST WITH THE PRESENT
Melissa Morgan Gets “Back to Basics” bringing life back to Texas Hill Country Gems
“It’s the only job for which I’ve had to source working kerosene lanterns,” says interior designer Melissa Morgan (@m_interiors_tx), who helped one man realize his dream of having an authentic log cabin on his Texas property. It has been brought to life with a transplanted 19th-century wooden structure that has no electricity but more than makes up for the lack of modern amenities with its charming, antiques-filled interiors. Click for more. (Above image)
Melissa Morgan founded M Interiors in San Antonio, Texas in 2004 and since then has established a reputation as a designer whose mixture of traditional American style and European aesthetic has won her accolades—and a devoted roster of clients. A native of California, Melissa fueled her lifelong passion for architecture, textiles, and decorative arts when she studied French and Art History in college and expanded her horizons traveling throughout Europe. Captivated by the culture and landscape of the American Southwest, she and her family moved here.
It was, therefore, a marriage of like minds when Alice Welder reached out to Melissa and asked her to help her with the renovation and decoration of a very special—and unusual—property. Alice was long in love with a particular stretch of cypress trees in the rolling Hill Country of Texas that an ancestor, Albert Keidel, planted in the early 1900s . Largely the result of his efforts, that part of the country—so rich in 19th century German-American architecture—was preserved when, a century ago, Keidel followed the lead of the Rockefeller family who, at the time, had begun the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Determined to do good, he set out—on a much leaner financial scale—and launched the preservation movement of the Hill Country of Texas.
Desiring a slower-paced life for her husband and three daughters, it was only natural for Alice to look for a family home near Luckenbach, a town made famous by the Waylon Jennings song. “Loving old buildings is ingrained in my soul,” she says. She found just the place she had hoped for but the owner was reluctant to sell unless it was to just the right person. When Alice told her that she was the granddaughter of the town’s former mayor, John Russell “Hondo” Crouch and his wife, Schatzie, the owner—who had known the Crouches—gave Alice her blessing wholeheartedly.
The main house was flanked by a small cabin, built in the 1850s, that was moved years before and connected by a traditional “dogtrot,” or breezeway. Working with Melissa, the two set out to renovate the cabin, repainting the original blue trim. Carefully mixing modern with a traditional array of antiques that would be in keeping with the time and place of the home, they scoured Texas antique stores for furnishings, accessorized by Alice’s own collection of silver, 19th century Staffordshire dog-shaped hunt cups, and books on Texas history. Tying it all together was Pierre Frey fabric, called “Montana,” designed with scenes of pine trees and deer.
Living in a modern life in a cabin meant “the most gracious sleeping setup possible—crisp sheets, thick pillows, and unbelievably comfortable beds,” Alice said. And ready to make their own memories, the family now entertains in the newly restored breezeway. With no television or telephone, Alice and her family live by the words of Waylon Jennings, when he sang, “Here, we get back to the basics.”The Fredericksburg log cabin in a recent publication. Click to see more images on Melissa’s Instagram feed! (Above image)
Micah McKinney also enlisted Melissa’s creative help when he deconstructed, transported, then rebuilt, timber-by-timber, an 1860s cabin from rural Ohio to make a home for himself and his two young children on his 1,200-acre ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas. McKinney wanted to preserve the rustic personality of the place and Melissa was keen—to the extent that in the earliest days of the project, she worked by the light of a kerosene lamp, and before the cabin had any power or running water. Nonetheless, there was a charm and energy down through the ages that propelled her through her work. Melissa sourced antiques from area antique shops and the kitchen table Micah had inherited from his grandfather was surrounded by six antique rush-seat American chairs. Rather than modern cupboards, an 18th-century French walnut cupboard is home to antique glasses, copperware, and ironstone plates. Natural light pours into the cabin from its vaulted ceilings and the large front porch—a new addition—extends the living space from inside to out.
McKinney may describe his cabin as basic, but then the real luxury comes from enjoying time to fish, read, watch his children swim in the pond—and breathe in the beauty of country living. Now that’s luxury. As for Melissa Morgan, the Californian has certainly found a home for her talents, and her heart, in the Hill Country of Texas. www.m-interiors.net