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Gray Star Design Founder and Designer, (plus Minted artist!) Melissa O’Connor-Arena, has been an artist for as long as she can remember. After graduating with a BFA in Graphic Design, and gaining experience across various mediums of art including photography and illustration, O’Connor-Arena began working professionally as a freelance writer and designer. Following her wedding in 2012, she began an Etsy shop focused on event stationery and paper goods, along with art prints and custom gifts. Today, O’Connor-Arena lives in Patchogue, New York with her husband and two very adorable dogs. Here, she touches on her eco-conscious life and the things she can’t help splurging on for her home. Take a look!

WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST INSPIRED? When it comes to photography, I’m most inspired by nature. I always strive to capture the true beauty of what I see and share it with the world. As for design, life and music bring me the most inspiration. It also doesn’t hurt to look to other designers, we can definitely inspire one another.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? My style is modern with a vintage flair. This aesthetic is evident throughout my work as well as my home. I generally go by the “less is more” rule, embracing clean and classic elements with neutral palettes.

WHAT MAKES A HOME BEAUTIFUL? I strongly believe that a home should reflect the style and personality of those who live there. It should be warm, cozy, and inviting.

Art has always been a major part of my life, I couldn’t imagine myself any other way. Being a creative individual has given me a life filled with adventure and beauty. I find comfort in art, it’s where I feel most at home.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION? While there are many things that I treasure in life, especially when it comes to art, I would have to say that my computer and camera are the two most important. I think an artist’s tools are just as important as their skills and talents.

ON WHAT ITEMS DO YOU SCRIMP? I would definitely say that I am a budget-friendly girl, I try to save as much as possible when it comes to buying clothes!

ON WHAT DO YOU SPLURGE? Furniture and art! I would much rather invest in a well-made piece that will last long, than something slightly less expensive that will have to be replaced. When it comes to art, if I fall in love with a piece, I will find a way to buy it!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? My husband and I took a trip to Prince Edward Island for our honeymoon. Aside from the stunning countryside and the breathtaking landscapes, it was simply a dream to be there