Kiwis Kelly and Josh Müller met in Tauranga, relocated to Sydney, then — craving a slower pace for their young family — settled in Lennox Head in northern NSW. Although they initially landed in this small coastal town because  they couldn’t find an affordable rental elsewhere, Kelly says it turned out to be the biggest blessing. With the benefits of being 20 minutes to Byron Bay and less than an hour to the GC (and its international airport), the one-main-street locale is quiet and down to earth, with a genuine sense of community.

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)

So Kelly, a taste of home but with better weather?! Aotearoa is a big part of who Josh and I are, and we miss our friends and family immensely, but the incredible community here makes living away a little bit easier. We often reflect on our daughters growing up not knowing the same connection to New Zealand that we did, not to mention the lack of connection to their tūpuna — Josh and the girls all whakapapa to Ngāpuhi — so we’re doing our best to ensure they understand who they are and where they’re from, while living in a place we love and have come to consider home.

What made you decide to build here? Luck! Josh and I were never overly focused on buying property — mostly because we wanted to live right on the beach and couldn’t afford it — but we serendipitously ended up renting on  the same street as a real estate agent. He casually mentioned some land he was selling, so I started making enquiries as to whether it’d be possible for us.
I honestly believe it was just about being in the right place at the right time, and we’re so grateful for the guidance we received along the way. At that stage, pre-Covid, it was much cheaper to build than buy, so it was the most affordable way for us to get into the property market. 

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)
THESE IMAGES The couple have fostered  a link to Aotearoa through some of their interior choices. “As well as looking to a lot of New Zealand suppliers, we were mindful about what we were investing in — it was important to us to select environmentally friendly pieces that weren’t too trendy,” says Kelly. “We chose Nodi rugs for our living and media rooms, and have two paraikete by Noa Blanket Co, artworks by Meg Gallagher, and prints by our photographer friends Rambo Estrada, Richard Hodder and Tāne Coffin. I love that these are all pieces I enjoy every day, and a beautiful taste of home.”

What was the experience of building your first home like? We were working to a relatively small budget, so my hopes for an architecturally designed home — ideally by my friend Adam Taylor of Mt Maunganui studio Ata — were never going to become a reality. Instead, we opted for an off-the-plan home, which we were able to customise quite a bit.
We considered things that would have an impact in terms of future-proofing, functionality and longevity, such as higher ceilings, stone benchtops and maximising the north-facing aspect. We took out small windows and upgraded to walls of sliding doors along the north side, picked up rooms and moved them around to suit the configuration we were after… It was like the most important game of Tetris we’d ever played! We also redrew the facade so it felt a little more unique to us, paid close attention to our finishes and invested in our landscaping. We ended up with a simple, single-level, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home — and we’re so happy with it.

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)
ABOVE Daughters Ari (5) and Sunny (8). The bedrooms include organic latex mattresses by Totem Road and bedding by Kiwi-founded Milou Milou.

How did you want your house to feel? With two young kids, the stage we’re in is beautiful chaos, so we wanted  a home that felt calm and safe, with a neutral base we could bring to life through colour and texture. Josh and I prefer minimal, uncluttered spaces, but although we have gone for lots of white, it’s super functional. The Dulux Vivid White on the walls makes it easy to spot little handprints and wipe them clean, the couch covers are removable and washable, the concrete floors are the easiest thing in the world to sweep and mop. Unpretentious and welcoming, this is a home for living in.

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)

It’s also the HQ of your and Josh’s business, Kelly Müller Consulting  — how does that work out for you guys? I’m a strategic thinker by nature and love the process of building brands, but I found the more senior I became in in-house roles, the less I was able to get stuck into that. With KMC, Josh and I can offer a bespoke service where clients get the full benefit of my experience, since I’m actually doing the work.
Essentially, I’m a marketing director, PR manager, content manager, digital marketing manager, copywriter, and recently I’ve started moving into e-comm as well, while Josh joined the business about five years ago to manage our clients’ digital advertising. Offering an alternative to traditional agency models, we work with New Zealand and Australian lifestyle, beauty and fashion brands to help them grow. I particularly love being able to work with New Zealand brands and seeing Kiwis succeed internationally. 

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)

At home with the founders of modern marketing consultancy Kelly Müller Consulting (KMC)
TOP & ABOVE “We used Trex decking, which is a composite of 95% recycled plastic and reclaimed sawdust that doesn’t require maintenance, sanding, painting or staining,” says Kelly of their outdoor decisions. “Instead of building our barbecue area directly off the house, we ended up going for a parallel position, so we didn’t restrict any light into the living space and made the most of the sun.”

Do you have any pro tips for achieving work-life balance? There have been many lessons! When I first started, because I worked remotely, I felt like I needed to be available at any time, which really burnt me out. I set some boundaries around my availability and ensured I delivered on what  I promised, but it was having our  first child that truly taught me how  to prioritise. I doubt you’ll meet a more efficient worker than a working  mum. I’m super organised, but what I get done in four-hour windows is more than I ever got done in an eight-hour day at the office.
I think creating a work-life routine that supports what we need and not hiding that is really important. For me, health and wellbeing are a priority,  so whereas I used to cancel a gym class for a meeting, it’s now the other way around. We can only do our best when we feel our best, and it’s when we’re given the time, space and permission  to do that that the magic happens. I’ve ended up attracting clients who share  a similar approach and it’s really nice  to work with business owners who encourage each other to have a mental health day or switch off with our families. There’s a mutual understanding as well as a deep desire to do the absolute best we can with the time we have. 

Gotta love the flexibility of WFH, but the juggle is definitely real… I’m still learning to accept that I can’t be all the things all the time. Working from home is great while our kids are still young, but it does makes it harder to separate work and family. However, the longer I do it for, the more I realise that this is reality, so I try to normalise it as much as I can. I think it’s important that we start being our whole selves at work and, for me, that means being  a mother first. Josh and I having the flexibility of owning our business and sharing our responsibilities at home gives me the chance to do that.
For us, [couple] time together is rare,  but we know this is just a season of life. Communication is key. When you work together, parent together and do life together, it’s hardly ever 50/50. We understand that some days one of us will struggle and the other will pick up that 80/20 because you need them to. I think that’s what makes this work for us. 

Interview Alice Lines
Photography Natalie McComas

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