Baden Designer Tests Her Creative Ideas at Home


A designer's Baden home blends style, function and special memories.

OUR HOMES Region of Waterloo Spring 2019A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of  OUR HOMES Region of Waterloo p.44. Find local businesses in our Waterloo directory.
Designer Melissa Heaman doesn’t believe you have to sacrifice beauty for function in your home. In fact, the owner of Harbour Mill Design strives to make the two work together and there’s no better proof of her success than her own family home in the charming community of Baden, just west of Waterloo Region.
“I like to think of a very liveable design plan,” Melissa explains. It helps to have a frame of reference and with a husband, three young children and a large Bernese mountain dog, she’s all too familiar with the challenges of designing for a busy household. Admittedly, she uses her own residence as a springboard for creativity, continually testing trends and her own ideas as each room evolves.
Melissa was already living in a smaller home in Baden with husband Scott, sons Jackson and Charlie, and daughter Madelyn when she saw the two-storey house by Carey Homes come up for sale.
They jumped at the opportunity to live on the quiet cul-de-sac populated by young families and children. It’s been a busy time, transitioning from a move in late 2017, officially launching Harbour Mill Design a year later, and juggling the needs of family, a growing business and her own renovation projects. Melissa makes family-friendly and immaculate work together in one space. Not all homes with youngsters are so organized and well-appointed, and it’s clear that trading chaos for harmony is her forte.
A soaring ceiling is one of the standouts in her home’s spacious foyer; it’s the perfect spot for an impressively-sized chandelier. Darker tones, like those in the console table from Cornerstone Home Interiors, or the hardwood staircase with wrought-iron spindles, contrast nicely with lighter shades used throughout the home. Just down the front hall is Melissa’s favourite room, the kitchen, which underwent a transformation after the move. 
She had dark kitchen cabinets refinished in Benjamin Moore’s Dove Wing and installed subway tiles. New pendant lights, updated hardware and “a little décor here and there” helped to put her stamp on the welcoming space.
One of Melissa’s signatures is the way she uses a variety of design styles – a vintage look, a touch of contemporary, a piece with a rustic feel – and then ties them together with items that have special meaning. In Madelyn’s bedroom, there’s a dollhouse that Melissa owned as a child (it’s on the list of future reno projects), a quilt crafted by her mother and grandmother, and a toy chest made by her grandfather. The perfectly-pink room is a little girl’s paradise, complete with glitzy chandelier and a cosy chair and ottoman.
Melissa takes a similar approach with her clients, preferring to incorporate items that have special meaning to each homeowner into her designs. It’s a thoughtful process that begins with a menu of services geared to different needs. Some people are fine with minimal guidance offered online or by phone; others prefer in-person consultations and extensive design sessions. Hate to shop or overwhelmed by choice? Sourcing is another one of Melissa’s talents.
That ability to find just the right item is evident throughout Melissa’s home; many come from some of her favourite local stores like The Art of Home and Pepper Pot Place. Natural and reclaimed products are another source of inspiration. The fireplace mantel, custom kitchen table and even the planks from a Caledonia mill used to create a feature wall surrounding the fireplace were all sourced from The Timeless Material Company.
Though she’s still finding her niche in the design world, Melissa understands the importance of infusing her clients’ personalities into each project. It’s one thing to create a beautiful space, it’s another to make a place feel like home.