After years in advertising, it was a move to New York that prompted Sydney-sider, Melissa Koch to ditch her former Mad Men life for a career in interior design. Starting with evening studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), she then scored an internship with one of Architectural Digest’s top 100 design firms, Cullman and Kravis and the rest, you could say, is history. It was there she secured a full-time job and nine years later, the time had finally come to return home.
Melissa says she was lucky to start her interior design career in New York. “Americans are amazing about mentoring new talent. Ellie Cullman was so generous with her knowledge and Cullman and Kravis became my ‘New York’ family.
“They taught me how to interact and liaise with clients to understand their design aesthetic and functional needs. We used to call it ‘dating’! It’s getting to know the tastes and practicalities of each new client so that we can create a home that feels personal and individual. Most importantly, they taught me that you don’t need to sacrifice beauty or elegance to have a functional home. For Manhattan apartments we needed to be clever with space, utilising every square inch, while in Hamptons and Florida homes we needed interiors to be polished and chic, yet still had a sense of informality and most importantly, durability for entertaining house guests.”
Melissa says she is excited to share the products of vendor contacts she made in NYC that will add “a point of difference” to her Australian client’s homes but is also loving the chance to explore the local design scene while discovering some incredible talent on offer. “There is a real sense of community here which I’m looking forward to being a part of.”
“I love the serene feeling I get when walking into our bedroom,” says Melissa. “It definitely evokes my love of French 40s interiors with a splash of Hollywood Regency. My favourite thing is the artwork above the bed – it is a photograph of a rock formation but when I first saw it I thought it was a cloud. I loved the idea of drifting off to sleep each night under a fluffy cloud.”
From a personal style perspective, Melissa says she finds it hard to sum up her own aesthetic in a sentence without sounding terribly ‘cliched’. “I love classical interiors that are elegant with an updated twist for our modern times. My interiors are layered, collected, comfortable, functional and reflective of the individual.”
Melissa agrees that her Sydney home is a case in point and a true reflection of her style, which incidentally she hasn’t sacrificed despite having five-year-old twins. She says of all the rooms, the living room was hardest to furnish yet is still her favourite.
“I love classical interiors that are elegant with an updated twist for our modern times. My interiors are layered, collected, comfortable, functional and reflective of the individual.”
“I have a terrible sweet tooth and weakness for desserts,” says Melissa. “As soon as I found the donut photographs I knew they’d be at home in our breakfast area. Everyone that knows me who visits, comments on how appropriate they are for our family!” Melissa upholstered the kitchen banquette in an outdoor fabric to keep the space kid-friendly. “It’s resistant to wet stains and best of all, I can clean it with bleach. The seat cushions on the banquette lift up to reveal hidden storage underneath,” explains Melissa.