In the latest episode of “My Houzz,” Olivia Munn enlists the help of Travis Morelock from MIDMODERNdesign, who she found on Houzz, to create a space uniquely personalized to her mom – from custom cabinets to match her mom’s height to a built-in rice cooker. Learn more about how Travis got started in design, some of his best tips, and insights from the My Houzz surprise renovation below.
What got you started in your career? I grew up in a construction family. My dad built every house that we lived in (21 houses before I left home at 18), and my mom made selections for each house with a different style. My grandpa built schools, my uncle builds commercial buildings, my aunt is a successful real estate broker, so I was destined to be involved in the industry that consumed my childhood! I read houseplan books like they were comics and This Old House was my equivalent of cartoons. I love every aspect of design and construction and it is all that I’ve known.
What is your design philosophy? To me design is all about collaboration. Some designers have a vision and fulfill it, but I would be bored to tears if I was only trying to please myself. Instead I love the challenge of incorporating different opinions, viewpoints and preferences to make the final design so much stronger than I could have made it alone.
Where’s the most unexpected place you’ve found design inspiration? I find design inspiration every day and in everything that I see. I am especially inspired by hotels and restaurants and love to translate that inspiration into residential living. The most unexpected place I look for design inspiration is restaurant restrooms. Just like powder rooms in a home, restrooms in a restaurant are your small blank canvas to get creative and make a statement!
What are clients asking you for? My clients are asking for light and bright spaces with big open floor plans. We love that look too but the challenge is to also bring in warmth and a feeling of comfort into these spaces. We already are seeing the transition into warmer and deeper colors as accents and so I am really excited about what is happening next in design.
What do you geek out on when it comes to design? I am a total geek for all of it. Tile, fabrics and wallpapers with texture are bound to turn my head. The technology that has come to our industry in the past five years has been incredible and we are seeing more and more man-made materials that capture the beauty of nature.
What excites you the most about going to work every day? My clients and my team. I have the best clients in the world and our team is second to none. Taylor and Brooke work with me everyday to create incredible spaces for incredible people and they make coming to work fun. We don’t get too serious and we have a good laugh often.
What is your favorite part of the design process? I love the demo. It never ceases to amaze me what a good demo crew and a few dumpsters can do! It is one of the biggest transformations for my clients because for the first time they are seeing the space just the way I have seen it since I walked in – a blank slate!
What is your favorite element in the space from this project? I love tons of elements in this space, but my favorite is the newly framed needlepoints that Olivia’s mom had done while she was growing up. The detail is incredible, and I can’t imagine how much time was spent on completing those. We loved the opportunity to show them off for what they are – beautiful art!
What was the biggest challenge during this project and how did you solve it? The biggest challenge on this project was creating a kitchen that could really function for Olivia’s mom. I was told that cooking is her love language and she does it in mass. Given her height and what needed to be easily accessible without assistance, we executed several pull downs, focused storage in lower cabinets, and even installed a remote control for the range hood to give Kim full access to the kitchen features and hopefully an easy and enjoyable space to cook in.
When you’re not designing, where can you be found? My husband Jason and I can be found in Yountville, CA near the Napa Valley at a wine tasting if we are not working. Taking time off is rare, but we have fallen in love with that corner of the world. We are foodies and wine lovers so there’s no better place to relax.