Welcome, my name is Corbin Patten, and I am a young designer working to change the way we experience the built environment through my passion for architecture and design. This will be the first of many posts discussing various things that are architecture. I want to take you on a journey to better architecture. Before I get into why I do what I do, I would like to tell you a bit about my background.
I was born and raised in Muskoka, Ontario. My parents, Lena and Randy, at the time of my birth, were flipping cottages while maintaining jobs in Toronto during the week. Their plan was to always move to the cottage one day, then one day my dad said lets do it. Moving to the cottage left one big issue; my mom said to my dad, "but Randy what would we do for a living?" My dad, being the driven, confident man that he is said: "that's simple, let's make flipping cottages a job." The decision to do this was quite an important time for my parents as I was three at the time and was just about to start junior kindergarten. So, we sold our home in Port Credit, our cottage on the Lake Joseph River and then bought a home on the Shadow River at the top of Lake Rosseau. My mom wanted to be able to walk to the store to get a bag of milk, which brought them to the Village of Rosseau.
My mom spent the weekdays for over a year at her current job at Ernst & Young in Toronto then ended up finding employment in the interior decorating business in Muskoka. She has a Bachelors of Applied Science with a major in Fine Art from the University of Guelph and used to paint a lot when I was young. With that being said interior decorating came natural to her. In 2000, we bought the former Rocky Top Building across from the Rosseau General Store at the corner of Rice Street and Highway 141 in Rosseau.
I remember waking up in the morning every day during that winter before we opened, just so excited to help my dad with the renovation. Back then, when you walked into the building, you got hit with the distinctive musty smell that would typically get when walking into old buildings. The building was built in 1923, and this definitely explains a lot of the smell. I do not remember if my memory of the smell comes from being part of the demolition or just the vast amounts of sport trading cards they sold in Rocky Top. So once we got off the school bus, my dad would hand my brother, Jordan and I a sludge hammer and we would go to town. We would work our way through the various walls on the second floor leaving a trail of mess everywhere. My dad has always run a tight job site and this often interrupted demolition process for cleaning as he always wants to leave the job site spotless for the next day. I know at the time Jordan, and I focused on being little Tasmanian Devil's from our favorite Looney Tunes Cartoon show. This made it hard to stop us, but my dad eventually got us to slow down for a second to clean up the vast amount of mess we left.
Our plan was to open up the room by creating a cathedral ceiling, remove the second-floor interior walls to accommodate more showroom space, and replace the material pallet with one that better reflected our brand. The renovation allowed us to remove the musty drywall and spray foam the building to tighten up its 100-year-old frame. I remember my dad telling us one day when I got home from school that the ceiling had four layers of drywall on it. I don't think we could ever figure out why, but I guess we could chalk it up to multiple owners and different uses over the 100 years of existence. HillTop Interiors opened in May of 2000, and we pushed full throttle focusing on giving our clients the best possible interior decorating experience to help them have a more fulfilling vacation spot. Our slogan today is 'Your Home, Your Life, Your Style, ' but I believe that client focused approach has always been at the core of what my mom and dad have wanted to accomplish with our family business.
Ironically at roughly the same time, we purchased HillTop we bought our dream property on Lake Rosseau. But the catch was we downsized from a 4000 square foot place to a property having three old 800 square foot cabins on it. Looking back I would think this would scare most people, but my parents are driven, and it was not an obstacle. My dad did a very modest renovation to the main floor of one of the cabin, a minor upgrade to the bathroom, the kitchen, and converted the two bedrooms into one bigger master bedroom. The best part of this plan was upgrading the ceiling joists and creating a second level for a big shared loft bedroom and play area for Jordan and I.
After the business was up and running, we started to think about building our dream home. We lived with no dishwasher and only one bathroom between the four of us for a little over six years. Even though my parents worked a lot and Jordan, and I always found stuff to keep us entertained such as hockey or tobogganing in the winter, or anything to do with water in the summer. I think I was roughly 12 at the time and this is where I really began to get interested in design. Every Sunday for a few years, as my parents were having their morning coffee looking out at the lake, I would wake up early to show my parents the new ideas for our new home. I looked forward to doing this every Sunday morning for a few years, and my parents would always make some suggestions, and there I would be back at work. After finding a design we were happy with, an architect was hired to finalize the design. Other significant events I consider to bring out my passion were learning how to do a perspective drawing in grade six and seeing all the amazing places while working for HillTop Interiors.
With my dad in the construction business and my mom running an interior decorating business, you can start to see how my passion for architecture developed. Jordan and I might have only helped out during demolition for a few days for renovation at HillTop, but this is where I developed a huge interest in seeing the project transform day to day and wanted to be a part of that transformation. Later on, I had the opportunity to see many of the great homes and cottages in the area through HillTop, and along with the building of our home, this inspired me to pursue architecture after high school. I first attended the University of Toronto taking many architecture courses which drove me to a more technical program at George Brown College. I graduated the George Brown’s Architectural Technology program, and I now am pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Architecture and a Masters in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.
I grew up in an environment of constant improvement, and I think to this day, that drives me always want to make things better. This post was the start of many blog posts as I hope to share my drive to improve the built environment. I hope this little snapshot into my life and my development at a young age has begun to give you a bit of insight into who I am as a designer and why I do what I do. In addition to providing insight into my life as a designer, I want to share my journey and discuss why I am passionate about designing healthier buildings, which are true to materials, to simplify lives.