Melody in her Malibu home

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

Melody, whose advice-and-inspiration books also include The Language of Letting Go, turned over control to Antonia Hutt, a Los Angeles interior designer with whom she'd worked before. The arrangement was as much about trust as expediency. Melody had an acute back problem and was going to have artificial-disc-replacement surgery. Her recuperation would take a few years, so she needed to make her home conducive to healing.

"When Antonia Hutt and I work together, we talk about where I am in my life, where I am with my work, where I am with my spirituality," says Melody, who had recently spent three life-changing months researching religion in China and Tibet.

Based on their discussions, Antonia decided that the dominant color should be shocking pink, accented with an intense red and orange. "I think pink is luxurious, exciting, exotic," says the designer. "I was trying to create a feeling in the space and give Melody what she needed. I wanted her to revitalize. I also thought there was a sense of humor about it."

Antonia knew Melody would be working on her next book, The Grief Club: The Secret to Getting Through All Kinds of Change, and that she'd be dealing once again with the loss of her son, Shane, who died in a skiing accident in 1991, when he was 12. "Melody was hurting in so many ways, and I wanted her to smile," Antonia says.

On Melody's daybed that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, Antonia used cushions and pillows covered in all-weather acrylic fabrics that will not mold or mildew. Antonia put polished-aluminum paisleys on the wall for a touch of exotica, without realizing at the time that they also resemble apostrophes and commas, a particularly appropriate motif for the home of a writer.
Melody's pink, red and orange living room

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

While Melody's own needs and idiosyncrasies dictated the design, so did the demands of the Pacific. "I have lived by the ocean long enough to know that it corrodes everything and that my television won't hold up for more than two years," she says. "Indoors, we used only outdoor fabrics because they last longer."

"I wanted the environment to be very much one thing," says Melody, who had her black piano slip-covered in pink outdoor fabric after she was told painting it would ruin its sound. "Some people say my living room reminds them of a nightclub."

Antonia chose Philippe Starck's Dr. NA bistro table and translucent Ero/S/ chairs because Melody wanted to keep meals low-key. The built-in sofas can be used as beds when Melody's grandchildren sleep over.
Melody's Malibu bedroom

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

Melody says she finds the colors as soothing as the breathtaking ocean view. "This place surprised me, it really did," she says. "I was afraid that the colors would be too much, too stimulating. But they have had the opposite effect. They're very calming."

Antonia designed the upholstered platform bed with a one-foot-wide ledge that would accommodate a laptop, piles of books and a small tray of food. Vintage 1940s lamps sit on 1950s night tables that Antonia had lacquered bright red.
Tiered fireplace in Melody's bedroom.

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

The tiered fireplace in the bedroom is meant to evoke a pagoda.
Melody's Malibu deck

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

Although Melody enjoys her solitude, she does find that her guests —after their initial shock—are seduced by the environment. "People don't want to leave," she says bemusedly. "They are staying longer than they ordinarily did. There's a sink-in-and-get-comfortable feeling here, which really was not my intention."

On the deck, artist Jeffrey James Dalton built a daybed inspired by the outdoor seating areas of temples that Melody had seen in Asia.
Bookshelves in Melody's home

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

Melody does not expect the look to appeal to her forever, because she is too devoted to her own personal growth. "I have always found that changing my home has been a metaphor for my soul," she says. "All change is connected. Living here, my style of writing is changing and so are my friends."

She warned her interior designer from the beginning: "I told Antonia that color is very spiritual and when I get to the next state of transformation, I'll need to change it. I said, 'The redo on this place is going to be wild.'"

Oriental motifs on the bookshelves remind Melody of her journey to China and Tibet. The watercooler was slip-covered in fabric, to make it less conspicuous.
Interior designer Antonia Hutt

Credits: photographs by Thomas Loof, styling by Tristam Steinberg

Don't think you could ever dare to be as bold as Melody with the colors in your home? Think again! Interior designer Antonia Hutt shares her six tips for using strong colors:
  1. "Color is something you feel," says interior designer Antonia Hutt, who teaches at UCLA and notices that her students are always stimulated by strong pinks and reds. "They start to talk more animatedly. These colors increase your heart rate. You wouldn't put them in a psych ward."
  2. There aren't any tricks to working with such colors, according to Antonia, but there are guidelines. "The most important thing is balancing the light and understanding the light in context," she explains.
  3. Antonia tried five shades of pink on each wall of Melody's house and then looked at them at different times of day before selecting the custom-mixed color.
  4. Antonia does not believe in coordinating hues or consulting the color wheel—though she loves blue and pink together, and the ocean and the sky provide the blue complement for Melody's home.
  5. Finding the right shade of pink for the walls of Melody's house, red for the carpets, and orange for the ceilings was based on Antonia's cultivated sense of how colors work with one another. "It's about trying to create a vibration among them," she explains. "It's never about matching."
  6. Antonia admits that this daring color scheme was unprecedented in her career. "I'd never done anything like this before," she says. "Nobody but Melody would have let me."