Creating A Captivating Interior by Andrew Spencer
When you spend a few minutes talking to Pat Griffin, you quickly come to believe that you are her single most favorite person in the world and that there is nothing she would rather be doing at that given moment than talking to you. She is, in short, a person who loves people and, more specifically, a person who loves helping other people create their dream interiors. But to do that, she first has to truly get to know the person with whom sheâ€™s working, and the best way to do that is to engage in meaningful conversations with them. And so weâ€™re back to where we began.
LIVING ROOM The space was totally transformed by removing walls and adding French doors.
peaking of beginnings, Pat first learned the interior design
Despite sticking with the business for 10 years, there was
trade at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and
always something missing for her. “My passion was always
later at the New York School of Design. Being in school in New
design, and I just had to get back into it,” she said. And so she
York City – arguably one of the epicenters of interior design
left the restaurant world behind and began her own business
anywhere in the world – wasn’t without its advantages.
of buying and renovating houses, a job she learned from her own parents and which she continues to practice today.
One such advantage was an opportunity that really launched Pat’s career. She was offered a job working in the interior
During her time in Connecticut when she was buying and
design department at the world-famous Bloomingdale’s
selling houses around-the-clock, Pat met and later married the
Department Store on 59th Street. One of her job descriptions
man she described as her soul mate. “He was in the real
at Bloomie’s was to re-set all the furniture in the department
estate business,” she told me, “and our joke used to be,
four times a year. “It meant changing out all the fabrics and
‘Where are we going to live this week?’” The couple visited
re-doing the whole look of the department,” Pat explained.
Nantucket many times during their time together, but never for
“And in those days, we were closed on Sundays, so we’d have
more than a brief vacation. However, when her husband
these fabulous black-tie events on Sunday nights when we
passed away, Pat was instinctively drawn to the little Island enclave.
unveiled the new model rooms.” On Nantucket, she has built a two-pronged business model.
After leaving design school, Pat received yet another career
One part of her business is “traditional” interior design. A
opportunity, though one not directly linked to her passion for
client hires her to go through the house and re-design the
design. “I went into the restaurant business. I co-owned one
interior, oftentimes trusting Pat’s artistic sensibilities to choose
restaurant in New York City and two restaurants in Connecticut.”
such personal things as artwork and other furnishings to
MASTER BEDROOM Before renovation the master bedroom consisted of a bedroom and a bath. After, there is a sitting room, his and her baths and a walk-in closet.
UPSTAIRS LIVING ROOM Another French door was added to the space to take advantage of the fabulous views. The owners commissioned “This Is Real Estate” from a local gallery.
POOL, POOL HOUSE / OFFICE A private office plus a half bath and deck were added above the pool house, taking advantage of the great views. Removing the privet hedge and arbor opens the infinity pool to the main house. BEFORE
complement the home’s interior. This is the half of the business
more interested in looking at the house as a potential buyer
where Pat really puts to use her people skills, as she learns a
than as the current resident, because it’s the buyer’s opinion
client’s likes and dislikes. “In order to really decorate their
that really matters in the whole equation.
home, I need to find out everything about them,” she explained. “What are they like? How do they live? Are they
A recent design project that Pat finished was a house in
formal or casual? Is it an active family home? That sort of
Shawkemo that a client of hers acquired. “It was,” she said, “a
thing.” To supplement her own first-hand observations, she
pretty big deal.” Modest to the end, what Pat calls “a pretty big
asks the clients to cut out photos of things they love from
deal” I would be more inclined to call “a massive undertaking.”
magazines. “My goal is to make the process fun and not
The redesign involved a complete reconfiguration of the floor
stressful,” she added. In what was no doubt an attempt to
plan because, as she put it, “the existing floor plan just didn’t
appeal to my own writer’s instincts, Pat said that oftentimes her
work.” And that was just the beginning. “We took down walls,
job is “more about editing than it is re-writing.”
we added walls. We added French doors to make things flow better throughout the house. We redesigned the landscaping.
The other part of the business is what is called staging. Staging is,
We built a detached office. We did all the furnishings and the
Pat explained, giving a house a little help when it’s on the
artwork.” I run out of breath just thinking about all of it. The
market. Think of it as a marketing department coming in and
end results speak for themselves, as the accompanying photos
doing a little airbrushing in order to show the house in the best
light possible. “When I’m doing staging, I try to get the biggest
impact for the least amount of money,” she explained. “I love
When asked to estimate how many interiors she’s done over
doing staging, because you really have to be creative because
the course of her career, Pat had to think for a minute before
there’s usually not very much money in the budget. You’re
finally settling on “at least a hundred,” a number that includes
really doing it on the fly.” When doing a staging project, Pat is
both residential and commercial spaces, all over the United
KITCHEN A French door was added for better flow.
States and in select cities in Europe. But despite that international flair, today her feet – and her heart – are safely on Nantucket. “Nantucket is a wonderful place to live and
work,” she said. “I’m busy all winter and then in the summer, I get to play with my friends. And the winter is nice because there isn’t that crazy social schedule. Good friends and nice dinner parties, that’s about the extent of my winter socializing. But it works out beautifully, because I’m working so much. And then comes summer and I get to enjoy myself. And then I start it all over again in the fall.” Pat Griffin is doing what we all dream of doing. She has a career she loves and plies her trade in a place she loves just as much. In “The Catcher in the Rye”, the protagonist has a meeting with a history teacher – ironically named Mr. Spencer – who offers the young boy some parting advice: “Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.” If one subscribes to that view of life, then I think it’s safe to say that Pat is doing very well in that game.
DINING ROOM Sunken dining room lends an element of sophistication.
Published on Oct 3, 2012
When you spend a few minutes talking to Pat Griffin, you quickly come to believe that you are her single most favorite person in the world a...