Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Finn.
Patricia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story continues where it started, in Beverly, MA. I grew up in Beverly Cove, close enough to the beach that I was there every summer day, and apart from a dozen or so years living elsewhere, I have made Beverly my home, and it’s the location of my interior design business—Finn-Martens Design. I get the entrepreneurial spirit and love of real estate from my father. He formed a real estate firm in Beverly in the 1950s and ran it passionately for 50 years. One of my brothers joined him in the business, and together with two more of my brothers, started a residential construction company in the 1980s.
I was on a visit to their job site in Beverly Farms in 1991 and walked into an old house they were renovating—part of a 4-home development they were building. I thought, “I could be their in-house designer!” It didn’t happen quite that way, but my husband and I bought that old house. In 1998, I enrolled in a drafting course at the New York School of Interior Design. I quit my job in the pharmaceutical industry, got a design degree in 2001, and Finn-Martens Design was born. We commuted between New Jersey and Massachusetts until 2007 when we moved back to Beverly permanently.
I have had three careers in my life, and design is by far the one I am most passionate about. The vacation picture shows me indulging in my other passion: the water. When I am not designing, I am happiest in the water, swimming or diving.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The interior design industry has changed a lot in the 17 years I have been involved.
Back in 2000, the internet was still a novelty; people didn’t shop on-line for everything they way they do now. I sourced products from companies that sold “to the trade” only, so homeowners had to use professional designers to gain access to the furnishings they wanted. And the extraordinary number of products available today simply did not exist.
That has changed, and everyone can now buy anything they want, at virtually any price point, although that fact presents a new dilemma. With all those product options comes tremendous anxiety about making the right choice. An advantage of working with a designer is that we don’t have to look at the universe of choices. We keep up with product innovation; we have sources we trust so we can make selections much easier, and present just a small sample of options to the client. That way, the process is cohesive and keeps clients’ decision-making down to a minimum.
Another change in the industry is technology. When I was in design school, I was required to take one course in auto-cad; everything else was done by hand. There are very sophisticated CAD programs today, and I use one that can produce very nice 3D renderings, so I am able to show clients how their space will look with a high degree of realism.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges today’s designers face is HGTV. It’s fun to watch, sure, but it creates very unrealistic expectations. Homes are transformed in a few weeks, for impossibly small budgets, and none of the stated budget is allocated to the design process. This is completely backward; it all starts with the design. If the design is good, all else will follow. If the design is flawed, well, a lot of time and money can be wasted trying to right it.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Finn-Martens Design – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Simply put, Finn-Martens Design creates beautiful and functional environments for homeowners. We are a full-service residential interior design firm, small enough to treat every client as though he or she is the only client, yet experienced enough to handle all aspects of the design process. In addition to developing furniture plans and color schemes, and sourcing furnishings and accessories, I specialize in space planning—especially renovations, including kitchen and bath renovation. For me, it’s very rewarding to rethink a space that doesn’t work and make it not only more useful but also beautiful.
And I don’t feel obliged to stay within the four walls I am presented. Two current examples: for a bath remodel, I annexed 12” of a seldom-used guest bedroom to provide much-needed extra space for a room used multiple times a day, everyday. For another client, I relocated the laundry from an unfinished basement with treacherous stairs up to easily accessible space on the first floor. In both cases, moving a wall 8”-12” made all the difference.
I always carry a tape measure in my purse, and wherever I am—restaurants, hotel rooms—I am noting dimensions that work and those that don’t. My experience from the perspective of real estate development also informs my choices in remodeling.
If I had to say what I’m known for, it’s thinking outside the box. One of the best environments for me has been Designer Show Houses. For those unfamiliar with the concept, designer show houses are an opportunity for designers to display their talents for a good cause. The best-known of these in New England is the Junior League of Boston. Designers are invited to choose a room in a home that has been donated for the purpose and design it however they wish (although we bear all costs). It allows complete freedom: it’s like being the director of a movie.
I have participated in more than 10 designer shows. For the first one, for the Junior League of Boston, I transformed a first floor powder room. For the last one I completely redid a master bedroom suite, including bath and adjacent porch with hot tub. Whether it’s been 72 SF or 720 SF, the process is the same. It takes education, experience, imagination, and passion. And luckily for me, it’s fun.
I am most proud of an email I received from a client, who wrote this: “Just a note to let you know that not a day goes by that I’m not thrilled with my new kitchen. It is everything and more that I had hoped for.”
For a bath remodel, I was told I “saved a marriage” but I think that was in jest.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
No big changes planned; I just keep doing what I love.
- Address: 16 Front Street, Beverly
- Website: www.finn-martensdesign.com
- Phone: (978) 927-9959
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: FinnMartensDesign
- Facebook: Finn-MartensDesign
- Other: Houzz: Finn-Martens Design