Designer Spotlight: Christine Martin of The Good Abode

People who love travel often collect pieces along the way to remind them of a specific place or trip, like a uniquely beautiful rug, or a distinctive sculpture.

Interior designer Christine Martin has lived overseas for much of her adult life, and feels a strong connection to the objects she has acquired during her travels:

Christine Martin - Interior Designer The Good Abode

“I was always inspired by travel, and I have an inclination to purchase things. I have lived in Colombia, Korea, and Tunisia — and all of these places have very distinct styles and design focuses. I have hauled my collection around for years and years, and am always grateful to see these pieces because they tell a story and they’re very special to me.”

When travelers settle in one place long enough to focus on creating a home, it can be important to partner with an interior designer who appreciates travel in the same way.

As an international teacher, traveler, and now founder of her own interior design business, The Good Abode, Christine works with her clients to create a cohesive home aesthetic that celebrates these symbols of place and recognizes the joy that a physical representation of a memory can bring.

Christine Martin - Interior Designer The Good AbodeImage source: The Good Abode, Oakland Project

From Teaching to Design: The Common Theme is a Love of Travel

Christine began her career as an international teacher with contracts in different countries around the world. She taught for 16 years, twelve of which she lived overseas. While she loved the travel and getting to experience different cultures, meet new people, and learn about different parts of the world, she always found the most joy in making her home in each new place.

“I’ve always gravitated towards interior design. Making a home in different countries was one of my priorities, just to feel grounded and stable and happy.”

Christine Martin - Interior Designer The Good AbodeImage source: The Good Abode, Oakland Project

She found an online interior design certification course through a London-based academy, and spent three years to complete it remotely while continuing her full-time teaching work.

With her design certification under her belt, Christine began to take on a few clients. She started with the kinds of projects that were closest to her experience: expats with rental spaces who needed help creating a more home-like space. She helped her earliest clients rearrange what they already owned, or purchase a few new items to create a home-away-from-home.

Making Her Way in the Design World

Christine was tapped to join the co-founding team for a start-up called Decorilla, based out of New York City. She dedicated the next four years to helping build the online interior design company for people who are interested in design but lack the time or budget to work one-on-one with a designer.

The experience taught her a lot of the skills needed to become (and grow as) an entrepreneur, and led her to connect with other designers throughout the US and overseas.

It was fun and exciting in the beginning, but over time, Christine began to miss the more creative, hands-on parts of being a designer. She felt a pull to take on her own clients again.

Christine Martin - Interior Designer The Good AbodeImage source: The Good Abode, San Miguel de Allende

Around the same time, she and her boyfriend David began thinking about leaving their home in the Bay area.

“We felt pretty fatigued by just the pricing of housing and just the cost of living in general. It’s really congested, and we weren’t feeling super inspired there any longer.”

Their interest in moving was pretty quickly pushed into high gear when a stalker began repeatedly vandalizing their car for months. While the police became involved, Christine and David’s friends invited them to come visit in Mexico to get away from the stressful situation.

They stayed for three months, and fell in love with the beautiful city of San Miguel de Allende.

Moving to Mexico

After three months in San Miguel de Allende, Christine and David officially relocated from California to Mexico. Despite hearing stories about how difficult is can be to build a new home there, the couple met a builder they connected with and moved forward designing their new home.

It took us nine months to build our house, which is pretty quick. And now, I’m enjoying taking my time finishing the interiors. When I get a new piece, I like to live it with for a while before committing to something else.”

Image source: The Good Abode, San Miguel de Allende

Starting Her Own Interior Design Business

The remote nature of her role at Decorilla made the move to Mexico easier, but once she settled into their new home, Christine inspired to start her own interior design business.

The Good Abode was born.

The Good Abode showroom, San Miguel de Allende
Image source: The Good Abode, Showroom in San Miguel de Allende

She began with a simple Instagram account, which quickly grew into a business. She teamed up with her design partner, Fernanda Bravo, and soon found a lot of local expats in San Miguel de Allende who were interested in her services.

While they are still a relatively small firm, Christine and her partner focus on sourcing from mostly local retailers and providers. They also rely on local craftspeople for custom-built furniture.  

“I really light up when I’m in a space and moving things around, adding a vase with color here or a plant there… My favorite part of a project is pulling all the pieces together so it’s one cohesive look and feel.”

Procurement has been a distinct challenge, as the city isn’t really built to make it easy. There is no center for one-stop-shopping; it’s much more a “hunt” of exploring stores, consignment shops, and other options for more unique pieces.

Image source: The Good Abode, Showroom in San Miguel de Allende

Recently, The Good Abode opened a showroom in town, which has helped Christine and her partner connect even more with the local community. They’re juggling several residential projects and potential work for a 12-room boutique hotel.

Things are looking good. So good, that Christine is feeling the travel bug again. But this time, maybe it’s just a sourcing trip with her business partner to check out what the other parts of Mexico have to offer.

Curious about what it takes to build a home in Mexico? Then make sure to follow Christine and David’s journey through their FB group “Our Good Abode”.

The Good Adobe can be found on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Before you go…
Check out some of Christine’s favorite SMA design spots in this article: 11 Design Discoveries in San Miguel de Allende