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Susan Petrie: Bringing creativity and comfort home

Growing up, Susan Petrie spent summers in Southold; she’d frequently ride her bike and take the ferry to Shelter Island to explore. So it was natural that she and her husband, Brian Badertscher, would find a place on the Island to raise their children in the same “sandy feet, open door” environment. Their summer house became a full-time home for their family, son Beckett, 15, daughter Lily, 16, and rescue dog Indie this past year to stay safe from COVID.

Susan Petrie, above, designs rooms that incorporate classic Island colors and motifs while expressing the client’s individuality. (Credit: Lorin Klaris)

Her early career was spent in magazine publishing and developing a line of custom-framed coastal art. Later, she attended the Parsons School of Design and decided interior design was the place for her skills and creativity.

“If it weren’t for Shelter Island I would have never been an interior designer,” she said, “as it is my place of inspiration and ‘thinking tank’ of creativity.” She said the work of the interior designer often involves helping the client work through a critical life experience, as a new home or a redesign may come in response to a major change, such as marriage, divorce, death in the family, so she needs to be sensitive to what the client is going through.

(Credit: Lorin Klaris)

There are also practical challenges to be faced, such as materials that don’t arrive in time, and other plans that don’t go smoothly. “It’s never smooth,” she laughed. “It’s up to me to manage and fix the problem.”

To help clients avoid motifs that are commonly used and don’t reflect their individuality, she encourages them to work with a favorite piece, possibly a family heirloom, and design the room around it. “I might help them choose a vintage piece from Marika’s,” the Eclectic Boutique on the South Ferry Road, or from estate sales. She also sometimes urges them to choose a photograph they may have taken with their iPhones, then enlarge it to become a focal point in their home.

(Credit: Lorin Klaris)

When possible, she introduces clients on Shelter Island and the East End to the work of local artists, like Kathryn Lynch, who was profiled as an Artist in Residence in the March 19, 2021 Reporter. Ms. Lynch’s paintings often focus on boats and seascapes that evoke scenes of Shelter Island.

“Our home here is our haven, and I love what I do,” Ms. Petrie said. “There is nothing like creating living environments that are not only a reflection of things that you love, but also a place for family and friends to enjoy for future generations as well.”