Thirty-five-year-old Melissa Colabella of Melissa Colabella Homes, in Irvington, happened upon her career as an interior designer out of necessity when she renovated and furnished her first co-op at the age of 25. With no prior experience, she threw herself into learning about space, design styles, color theory, and aesthetics while maintaining her limited construction budget. This experience led her to study for her MA at the New York School of Interior Design, and, realizing the importance of diversifying, she earned a real estate license, as well.
When working on a design, Melissa starts with the architecture and then works inward. She insists you can ruin a house by not paying attention to the elements around you and can appreciate even the most bastardized revival styles if the concept follows through. She believes it’s important to stay true to what speaks to you and mentions that in her own home, she has a Renaissance print of Jean Fouquet’s Madonna behind a Post-Modernist Memphis-style geometric desk, declaring that they work because all of the colors are primary and that she finds the juxtaposition interesting.
What’s her advice on ensuring design choices stay relevant? “Nix the trend and select something that is a supporting element to the broader vision of your space.” Take Melissa’s advice and lose an afternoon checking out the colorful Victorian porches along the Rivertowns.