Designer Crush: Melanie Coddington


1. How did you get your start in the design world?

I never met an interior designer until I started working for one (Marian Wheeler). Growing up in rural Humboldt County I just wasn’t exposed to the finer things in life. I felt so at home around my co-workers who cared about what I did (fabric! pretty things!) that I didn’t mind the 75% pay cut I took leaving the corporate world.  Within months of forming my own company, Coddington Design, I was awarded a bedroom in the San Francisco Decorator Showcase.  That launched my career. I was very lucky.

2. What are some ways you strike a balance between art and function?

Awesome question! I tend to attract clients that have kids, dogs and messy, authentic lives. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single piece we bring into a client’s home has a high level of artistry. That said, if a chair isn’t comfortable or practical, it won’t make it past the Pinterest board.  For commercial projects, sculptural lighting and evocative art are great ways to balance out all the requisite desks and computers.

3. You’ve said this quote from Coco Chanel inspires you: “It’s not the houses I love, it’s the life I live in them.” Why does that quote resonate with you so much?

It’s a cliché, but you really can’t take it with you! When I walk into my house I feel supported, loved, and like everything has a place – but I’m not gonna freak out if there are some toys on the ground. I try to create that for all my clients.

4. You start by selecting a fabric as a point of inspiration – why start there?

For me, the fabric scheme for a room tells the whole story – color, texture, mood, formal or casual, fun or serious. I can find a way to get fabric into kitchens and bathrooms, even laundry rooms!

5. What’s your process for getting to know a client and helping them realize their vision?

My designers and I work however the client wants to work.  If they want to walk the design center floors, we do that. If they want a highly curated mood board, we do that. If they’ve spent years curating their Houzz or Pinterest boards, we go there.  I even have one client back home in Humboldt where we are working entirely in a private facebook group.

6. Who is your dream celebrity client and what kind of home would you create for them?

Shonda Rhimes. She’d have to say “yes” to everything.  

7. Who are some of your own designer crushes?

I could name a bunch of fancy or obscure dead people, but California has so much present day talent I want to support. I would love to be a client of Matthew Leverone’s. We used to work together and would just laugh all day. He has the most perfect taste. Commune and Laura Geremia are both doing unexpected work.

Lightning round!

8. M&Ms or Skittles?

Nope. Wine.

9. Beach or mountains?


10. Stripes or polka dots?


11. Heels or sneakers?


12. Dance machine or wallflower?


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