A commercial designer who has created sleek office spaces and swanky restaurants (think Crave or Cantina 1511 in Uptown) gave the Agenda a peek inside her renovated townhouse.
Here she shares her top spots to shop, how she uses color to evoke emotions, and how she runs an Airbnb inside her home.
Who: Monika Nessbach (44) and her dog, Martini.
Job: Owner and Principal Designer at designbar.
Her Story: Nessbach, who grew up in Germany, moved to Charlotte for graduate school 19 years ago. “I just wanted to have foreign experience on my resume,” she says. “But then the weather was great and I fell in love with Charlotte and the people.”
After living in Ballantyne for several years, Nessbach bought her Dilworth townhouse in 2004 and began renovating the two-story space to fit her more modern aesthetic. The experience led her to her second career as a designer. “I fell in love with the process as I was doing it,” she says.
The Home: The three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home is loft-style with a bright two-story living room. From the exterior it’s a simple brick townhouse. But inside Nessbach made dramatic changes to modernize the space.
She opened up the kitchen, adding a gas stove and stone floors. And in the ground floor master bedroom she removed closet space to turn her bathroom into a spa-like experience with an oversized tub, rain shower, and heated floors. Her latest project was her staircase, which was created by Southern Staircase and features small cables from the floor to the 20-foot ceiling along its entire edge.
House Guests: For three years, Nessbach ran her design firm from the home. But when her team moved into a Plaza Midwood office space last year, it freed up the home’s second floor, which she turned into an Airbnb. She currently only allows guests who stay 30 days or more. “It’s been summer interns and travel nurses,” she says. “But it’s been a lot of fun. Everyone has been great.”
Feeling Zen: “I like the teachings of Buddhism,” says Nessbach, who meditates and practices yoga. Nods to this are found throughout the home including an oversized Buddha painting in one of the upstairs bedrooms and small Buddha statues on her living room shelves. “It reminds me to stay grounded and be present.”
Contemporary Color: “I’m definitely not afraid of color,” says Nessbach. “I love the larger areas to be very light and airy, but when it comes to smaller spaces like the powder room and bedrooms, I like to use color.” Nessbach painted the kitchen orange, a color she says evokes hunger and she painted her bedroom a dark grey to encourage rest.
Shops and Inspiration
Treasure Hunting: “For accessories I like to go to little stores that are off the beaten path—like Magnolia Emporium,” says Nessbach. The living room’s poof is from Jaipur, the coffee table and chair are from Design Within Reach, and the couch is from Mobital. IKEA items can also be found through the home including the bedroom closet, kitchen cabinets, and dining room cabinets. The dining room also features a light fixture that is hand blown glass from Sklo and a cuckoo clock on the wall that is a modern version from Germany. “It’s my one German thing,” says Nessbach.
Lounge Like: “I always wanted the space to have a modern feel, but I didn’t want it to be cold,” says Nessbach. “I want people to feel welcome and like they can sit down—a homey feeling with a modern vibe. Things like having music throughout the house and a large entertainment area give that feeling of being able to lounge and enjoy.”