Designer Snapshot: Living History

December 19, 2012

By Paula M. Bodah

Designers can find inspiration from all sorts of things: travels around the world, childhood memories–all the varieties of experiences we call living. Patricia Finn, of Finn-Martens Design in Beverly, Massachusetts, frequently mines her own past for her interior design projects. She has designed a room each year for the North Shore Design Show, a fundraiser for the Wenham Museum that has been an annual event since 2009. Pat, a featured designer in Perspectives in our September/October issue shows us here how her childhood on the North Shore inspired her design choices for three of the spaces she designed for the show.

Photo by Eric Roth

In 2010, Pat designed “A Game Room for Eleonora Sears,†inspired by stories she heard as a child growing up on the North Shore. “I had just read Prides Crossing, a biography of Eleonora Sears, who was a famous North Shore character–a woman way ahead of her time. I remember hearing stories about her from my father when I was a kid,†she says. “The photo on the wall is of Sears playing tennis, and was provided to me by the author of the biography, Peggy Miller Franck. (The wooden tennis racquet is actually mine–how old am I?)†The game table, Pat notes, refers to the fact that Sears acquired her oceanfront mansion by beating its owner at a game of backgammon. Special details include Sears’s initials monogrammed on the chair backs.

Photo by Eric Roth

The luxurious bath Pat designed for the 2011 show was inspired by memories of childhood summers on the beach. “I grew up on the North Shore,” she says. “Summer days were spent at the ocean, climbing over the rocks from Rice’s Beach to Dane Street Beach. I’m now at an age when I need more pampering. What comes to mind when I think about a favorite space is water, fresh air, soothing music and a chance to close my eyes.†For this bath, she took a page from Asian design, installing shoji-like doors and using a clean-lined bath and sink from Designer Bath in Beverly. Woolly Pocket wall planters and interlocking teak tiles add a lush, outdoor feel.

Photo by Greg Premru

For this year’s show, Pat designed a tack room. “As surely as it is known for its coastline, the North Shore is horse country,†she wrote in the program book. “The Pine Tree Equestrian Center in Beverly Farms, located in a barn dating back to 1881, was the inspiration for the tack room. I borrowed the fabulous elk-antler chandelier from Andrew Spindler Antiques. The settee, tack/coat rack, and trophy shelf came from David Neligan Antiques.†Rugs from Landry & Arcari made a perfect backdrop for the settee and a covering for the floor.