Like most teenagers in the ‘80s, Cathy Patrick was a babysitter. However, instead of indulging in TV and snacks while the kids slept, she found herself rearranging homes — with the parents’ permission, of course. As time went on, said parents started hiring Patrick to decorate and organize their homes, before she was even old enough to get a job outside of babysitting.
A Muncie, Ind., native, Patrick moved to Naples, Fla., when she was 6 years old and spent her formative years there. After deciding to pursue a career in education when she went off to Florida Southern College, she eventually left teaching and went back to her roots — interior design.
“In my early 20s, I started working for a commercial architecture firm in Tampa,” she says. “I worked with residential designers and ultimately started my own business there working with luxury adult communities.”
After relocating back to Indiana in 2016, Patrick founded her own interior design business, Taft Street Interiors, named after the street she originally lived on.
We talked to Patrick who answered all of our burning questions about interior design, how the spaces we occupy impact our lives, and an easy way we all can spruce up our homes for summer.
Maven superpower: Creative problem solving and knowing how to improve lives through interior design.
When did you know you wanted to be an interior designer?
I knew it all along, but the moment I realized my path to being an entrepreneur was more significant was when I helped my parents with a huge undertaking. They were in Naples and needed to downsize into a smaller home, and I needed to help them sort and purge 50 year’s worth of belongings. That was where I realized this is where I might want to do my business. There was an unmet need for people who were downsizing or buying and selling a home.
What did your path to interior design look like?
I studied education because the women in my family were teachers. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I taught math and science for several years. During the summer months, I worked closely with architects and interior designers. It became clear that this was the right path for me, so I went back to school. While working, I used my free time to study interior design. My first project was the 15,000 square foot vacation home of Dietmar Hopp in Naples, Fla.
What inspired you to start Taft Street Interiors?
I was a caregiver for my brother and my dad. I needed more control of my time, so I could balance my work and caregiving duties. It was not easy to start my own business, but I was fortunate to have some wonderful women in my life who were also entrepreneurs. They understood my situation and offered their sage advice. I’ll always be grateful for their help!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Art; nature; travel; photography; everyday life.
What’s one of your favorite projects that you’ve been able to work on?
It was in Naples and it was one of my first projects ever. It was a 15,000-square-foot home, and the homeowner was Dietmar Hopp, and he’s the German equivalent of Bill Gates. This was one of his five vacation homes. It was incredible to have that much involvement in a project of that scope. Just being in it, selecting travertine tile from Italy, selecting accessories for his desk and for his personal office. And it was new construction. I remember supervising the installation of furniture, and everything was delivered in one day. It was unbelievable.
Any fun projects in the works that we should look out for?
I’ll be working as the design manager for Onyx + East — voted best new home builder in 2020 by IndyStar Community Choice Award!
What’s an easy way people can spruce up their space as we move into the summer months?
Schedule one hour with an interior designer or decorator. With the right skill set, your home can be transformed in one afternoon using what you already have!
How do our living spaces impact our lives?
Good design has the power to transform us. It changes our mindset, steers behavior, and improves the way we move through life. When the right elements are in place, our homes provide comfort and a positive, emotional energy that restores us.
What’s a location around Indy that you admire?
When my brother was diagnosed with ALS, I took him to his appointments at the IU Health Neuroscience Center in Indianapolis. My time in the waiting room gave me an opportunity to appreciate the architectural and design elements. The architectural form of the building paid tribute to the work that was happening inside. The interiors incorporated geometry, color, and imagery from neuroscience research. The whole environment was fresh, modern and up-lifting. It reminded me that good design impacts lives.
What are some foundations you base your career on?
Be authentic in everything I do. Continuously invest in personal and professional development.
Surround myself with inspiring people who bring out the best in others.
Who’s a woman in your life you look up to?
Olivia “Livi” Snyder, president of the Indiana chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). Throughout her career, Livi has designed commercial spaces in healthcare, education, and residential settings. Additionally, she has spent 20 years working with interior design students. Our ASID membership brought us together as colleagues. Livi quickly became a mentor and friend. Among her many admirable qualities, I especially appreciate her leadership skills and ability to bring out the best in others.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I’m an artist and a dog lover. I’m a member of the Hamilton County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).
What made you want to join Hamilton County CERT?
It’s a great program that prepares community members to support first responders in any situation where there might be mass casualties. Through a series of comprehensive classes and simulations, we learned how to save the most lives possible. I wanted to be better prepared to help my family, neighbors, and community.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.
All of our content—including this article—is completely free. However, we’d love if you would please consider supporting our journalism with an Indy Maven membership.