I get my design inspiration from many places. I often am asked to address storage issues in small spaces. When this happens I think about the efficiency of the cabin of a sailboat. Everything has its place. Doors are opened and closed with intent. Each space has a purpose.
While we land lubbers tend to leave cups and saucers on the counter, magazines on the coffee table and toys on the floor, this doesn’t work on a sail boat. Everything must be properly stowed so as not to slide around when the boat keels over as it flies with the wind.
When designing small spaces, I think about who is occupying the space, how they will use it and what clothing, objects, belongings they need to store. Earlier this year I converted a former servants’ quarters in a “classic six” apartment into bedrooms for two teenagers. We used the principles of yacht design to make the most of these small spaces.
Raised platform beds provided underneath storage for sports equipment, musical instruments and such. The convector enclosure in one room, when opened, becomes a desk and, in order to keep floor space clear, shelving was installed just beneath the ceiling. Every cabinet and shelf was designed with purpose, taking into account how to make the best use of the limited space available.
I’ve been designing residential and commercial spaces for over 25 years and I still get asked, “Pat, how did you get started in this business?” To be honest, I chuckle every time and say “It was an accident!”
When I was in high school I enjoyed my art classes, but always felt that there was something missing. There was always something I could do better – something that would hold me back from being a success in fine art. I wanted to be the best in class at whatever I tried to do. So, while art was the class I enjoyed the most, I decided I needed to be more ‘practical’ and I went off to junior college and ultimately became a legal secretary.
Yet, I did not abandon art. I continued taking classes. Then, I reached an unexpected turning point. I was fortunate enough to have friends with a sailboat. While we were enjoying a beautiful day sailing, we began discussing my friend’s living room and what color it could be painted. This was the moment! I shared my thoughts on color and furniture placement. My friend was amazed at my suggestions and declared that I should be in the design business. After an initial moment of silence, I realized that this appealed to my creative side. Perhaps I could create beautiful places even if I didn’t feel that I could have a career in fine arts.
Over the next few months I investigated my options, pulled my art portfolio together and won a place at Parson’s School of Design. Parson’s was undergoing a shift in its thinking and wanted serious students who were determined to ‘make a difference’ in whatever field of design they chose to pursue. I worked very hard, competing with students with far more serious art backgrounds than mine. I learned about interior design, product design, landscape design, architectural design and more. While it was more challenging than I anticipated, I loved it and learned to keep my eyes open for design inspirations.
I’ve been designing spaces for over 25 years. My influences come from all around me. I love texture. I’ve recently returned to painting and find it filling a gap I hadn’t realized was there. There is art in so much of what we do. I feel lucky to have found a career that appeals to my creative side and allows me to create beautiful spaces.