By Allie Myszka

When she first entered the working world after college, it didn’t take long for Melissa Frederiksen to realize that the 9-to-5 office life wasn’t the path she wanted for herself. Shortly after she finished a business degree, she shifted her direction and returned to school for interior design. Based on her success as principal designer and owner of Atmosphere 360 Studio, it seems that following her creative bent was the best decision she could’ve possibly made.

“I’d always been more of a creative, but I don’t think I realized it until after working in the business world,” Frederiksen shares, “I was always intimidated by drafting and measuring and thought it was something I couldn’t learn on my own, so I went the ‘safe’ route and studied business. It wasn’t until I went back to school for design that I was capable of learning drafting and the other skills I needed—I just needed to be taught and practice. Obviously, that’s the whole point of school!”

Most of her instructors in design school had an architectural background that resonated with Frederiksen, and now years later, she enjoys crafting both the construction plans and aesthetic feel for her clients’ spaces. “I love creating architectural elements,” she shares, “There’s so much freedom in adding something like that, because it can really dictate the entire space.”

Her work spans from short-term color and furniture consultations all the way to full oversight of construction and large-scale renovations. As a self-taught painter, she also leaves an artistic mark on each of her projects in a unique way with ceiling design and her own artwork. “I think that ceilings are forgotten, but they can make such an impact” she says, “They’re a blank slate. You don’t have to worry about function– you can just create a cool design.”

She’s also been known to create custom, one-of-a-kind abstract paintings for clients. “Sometimes we need a very specific size for artwork in a space, and it can be hard to source something that fits the size and the taste of the client,” she shares, “When that happens—especially when we need a large painting—I love creating something for the client that fits the room’s measurements and feel, but is also tailored to what the client wants aesthetically in a piece of art.” In one of her earlier projects—which she appropriately refers to as the “Art House”—she created an impressive series of nearly a dozen paintings that now adorn the walls throughout the sleek, modern home.

Some homeowners are intimidated by the thought of hiring a designer, but Frederiksen encourages those considering even small changes in their home design to consult a professional. “We do this every day and can easily and seamlessly communicate with contractors, designers, and other members of the project team, whereas it might be a once-in-a-lifetime task for clients, and it can get frustrating without help,” she says.

“If nothing else, we can check your plans to make sure they’ll work for your lifestyle before you get too deep into it. The last thing we want is for you to waste time or money when something isn’t done right the first time. Some people think they’ll lose control and not like what turns out, but we as designers are truly here to help you get exactly what you want in your spaces.”

* Frederiksen is now based in Michigan and works virtually for consults in Nashville, flying in when needed.