Q&A: Real Housewives’ Star Melissa Gorga

The Bravo TV star chats about design, family, and life off-screen.


Some people might balk at decorating a 13,000-square-foot home. But having gone on to balance a television show, singing career, and book (all while being a mom of three!), it’s clear that Real Housewives of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga embraces challenges with ease. Her palatial New Jersey abode is decorated to perfection, with every inch pairing regal sophistication and family-friendly warmth—a natural fit given her Italian roots.

Loving Melissa’s knack for lived-in glamour, we were thrilled when she agreed to curate a Joss & Main collection showcasing her fit-for-a-queen aesthetic. We checked in with the multitasking maven, whose Home Italian Style event launches at 9  p.m. on August 27, to get her thoughts on kid-friendly design, staying inspired, and feeling at home.

Tell us a little about the process of building and designing your home with your husband. Did you two learn anything about each other from that process?

My husband designed and built our home from the ground up. Once the structure was there I was able to pick the color, design, and furniture. I always knew my husband was a talented builder, but it was incredible to watch him design what you see today. We knew what each other’s strengths and weaknesses were and with a house as large as ours, we took the divide and conquer approach, which worked out well for us.

Having decorated your own house, what’s a special detail that you love (even if no one else notices?)

I think the special detail in our house is the intricate trim work. It decorates the room without having to add too many pieces. We actually used real gold-leaf on a lot of the trim throughout the house.

Where does your family spend most of its time in the house? How does the design of that space make it a great communal space?

I would have to say that it’s split between the kitchen and living room.  Being in a house this large, it’s sometimes hard to make it feel warm and inviting. We love to entertain and have our family and friends over so we made sure to focus on those areas. The kitchen is open and has a large breakfast bar with seating for the entire family. I hate clutter, so when it comes to objects, I always go with a less-is-more approach.

What advice do you have for readers who have small children at home, but still want to create a beautiful space?

It’s always challenging to spend money decorating a house when you have small children. I could have gone the old-school Italian way and covered the furniture in plastic, but I don’t want my kids to feel like they are living in a museum! We created spaces that are only for our kids, such as the playroom, movie theater and spaces within their bedrooms so they feel like they can have a place to hang out.  We also made sure our living room didn’t have a lot of breakable objects and clutter so everyone can feel at ease. One piece that we just got is an oversized L-shaped sofa that is large enough for everyone to lie down on and have family time watching a movie.

You are known for your love of fashion. Do you look to fashion for home decor inspiration?

I’ve always loved fashion.  I think that if you have an eye for clothes, you usually will have an eye for decorating. Fashion magazines tend to have an ultra-modern, sleek design and I think that would definitely inspire me if I lived in a city.

If you could live in the home of a famous style icon or celebrity for a day, who would you pick?

If it could be anyone, I would say Marilyn Monroe. I look at images from her era and am inspired by that old Hollywood feel. I think her style has inspired a lot of our lighting throughout the house.

What are some of your favorite places for great design inspiration?

I’m a big design magazine fan and love to look at other homes for inspiration.  Magazines like Homes & Estates and Home & Design always have great houses for inspiration. Both of our families are from southern Italy so we try to bring that old world Italian feel to our home. A lot of our pieces, whether it be the coffee table or sofa, are very ornate.

Your upcoming book is called “Love Italian Style”. Do you have any advice for “Design Italian Style”?

Ohhh I love it! That should be my next book. Designing “Italian Style” is, to some, a little over-the-top.  I think everyone has their own personal style, especially at home. No matter how lavish a room might be, it still needs to feel like you are at home.