Like remodelers and Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, Scott and Melissa Powell started their careers far from the interior design world. Melissa got her degree in marriage and family therapy, and opened her practice Powell Marriage and Family Therapy shortly thereafter. Scott’s degree is in finance.
After Scott and Melissa got married, they began flipping houses. When potential buyers started commenting on their designs and asking them to remodel rooms in their house, the Powells formed New Leaf Custom Homes.
“The process of working together and making something beautiful was really inspiring and a lot of fun for us together,” Melissa says.
Now, New Leaf has an in-house team of architects and designers, and has operated in Dallas for more than 15 years. As they built their design portfolios, many customers started asking for independent design projects. So, the Powells created The Design Shop in 2022.
“The thing that sets us apart is our extensive construction background,” Melissa says. “Designing for New Leaf Custom Homes has given us so much experience that architects and other designers might not have all of that experience in the field with what works and what doesn’t.”
The Design Shop’s office is nestled in the heart of The Hill, near Lake Highlands. Their team tackles projects from single rooms to expansive $5 million houses all over the country.
After running New Leaf Custom Homes for so long, what made you open a second business?
New Leaf and The Design Shop are sister companies. We started out with New Leaf and we had an in-house team of architects and designers who have worked with us for over 10 years. We brought them in-house because we wanted a really efficient process for our clients. We wanted them to be able to have the builder, the architect and the interior designer, all under one roof. As we started designing with New Leaf, we started having people come to us and say, “Hey, I really love the style, but we are building a house in another city where you guys don’t build. Is there any way you can still do our design for us?” So we just started branching out and doing design for other clients and other builders and other developers all over the country and decided it would be best if we branded The Design Shop as its own separate company so that we can continue that design innovation that we love and spread that to different people. We’re still the same employees under the same roof, but we can meet a lot of other needs than just building a custom home.
What made you choose the Lake Highlands area?
We started out in Lake Highlands, building our homes with New Leaf. We lived in Lake Highlands and love Lake Highlands. We eventually started branching out to other areas like Lakewood and Preston Hollow, so this location here is just central to all of the places that we build currently. We moved to Frisco two years ago, but Lake Highlands will always have a place in our hearts.
What is your go-to design style?
We don’t have a favorite style, per se, but our goal is to create something unique and architecturally significant. No matter what the style is, that creation of something new and the relationship between the client’s needs and wants and making that both functional and really pretty is our goal. You can see most of our designs have a little bit of a modern pull, but the things that kind of capture the look of all of our houses is bringing the outdoors in. Tons of windows, lots of natural light. Our goal is to never have to turn on your lights during the day in one of our homes.
What does the process of a project with you guys look like?
We have clients come in and meet with our entire design teams, so they meet with their architects and interior designers and our furnishings designer. We really get a sense of what they’re wanting, what they love, what they need and how they live. That’s really important to find out. From there, we work on architecture first, creating their floor plans or exterior elevations. Then we bring in interiors and select all of their interior finishes. While we’re doing that, we can incorporate furnishings as well. We are talking about their future layouts and how they’re going to use the space and tailoring our architecture and interior design with the furniture at the same time. It’s a really unique experience that clients can do all of that in one with one company. It’s a really well rounded experience to be able to design all of that at once.
What was it like for you and your husband to jump into the interior design world together?
Scott grew up in construction and I have a degree in marriage and family therapy, which I had a private practice before I started here. That has really helped me along the way because building a house or designing a house is very stressful. Being able to help calm clients and help them feel understood and things like that. But I think working together is really fun. We have different roles, so we don’t necessarily see each other and work on the same things every day. But we love being able to share collectively what is going on in The Design Shop World and he’ll say what is going on in the New Leaf world. We can compare and know that we have the same goals: love for design and making clients happy. That’s something that brings us closer together for sure.
Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.