Christine Martin is the founder and lead designer of The Good Abode, an interior design company and blog based out of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A native Californian, Christine has lived and worked all around the world, including countries in South America, Asia, and Africa. We spoke to Christine about creating comfortable, vibrant spaces, her path to Mexico, and how textiles from around the world can pull a room together.
What was your path to becoming an interior designer?
Prior to interior design, my former career was in education. I was an international school teacher for twelve years, and lived in four countries around the world. I taught in Colombia, Tunisia, South Korea, and Laos. I loved that lifestyle, being immersed in new cultures. But I always knew that teaching wasn’t my passion, and that there was something else for me. I’d gravitate towards creating homey spaces. Each country was so environmentally and culturally different, and I found it crucial to nest and create a space that was representative and comfortable to me.
We had friends who would comment on how cozy our spaces were, and I listened to that. I found an online interior design program to start while I was still teaching. I started to advertise to friends and other expats and to do small projects with them via Skype and email, and was introduced to the CEO of Decorilla, an online interior design company in New York City. I joined the team four years ago, and have been a co-founder ever since. I found I was so busy as a co-founder, and to satiate my creative side I started the Good Abode Instagram account. This led me to start my own design business and showroom in San Miguel de Allende.
What defines your design aesthetic?
I have an affinity for botanicals. Having something alive and green in a space is absolutely crucial — it changes a room completely. It brings life. I’m also drawn to rustic elements, mixing wood and metal. I wouldn’t consider myself a complete country girl, but the older I get the more I’m drawn to the rustic modern style. Textiles are important to me too. Having traveled in different places, I love how textiles are pieces of the world and the cultures they come from.
What do you love about San Miguel de Allende?
It’s a town that’s exploding with possibility and development. There’s quite a market for designers. I have a beautiful space here in town center and feel grateful to use it as my interior design studio. The goal is to showcase our custom-made furniture, home decor pieces from local artisans, provide interior design services, and host workshops.
Prior to moving here, my boyfriend and I felt fatigued by the Bay Area; it's high cost, congestion, traffic. We considered the liberal bubble cities that everyone in California gravitates towards — Portland, Denver, Boulder, Ann Arbor — but they’re all creeping up in prices.
Like most people here, we fell in love with this town. We’re building a 1300 sq. foot house now. Everything happened really quickly and easily, the universe giving us the green light, and we just went with it. The food scene here is great, the art scene is too. And there's a spirit of possibility; you have an idea, you can likely try it out.
What are some unique design pieces in your new home?
San Miguel has this great flea market that happens once a month, and you can find a lot of little gems there. People also open their homes like yard sale where you walk in a courtyard area to find clothing and homeware being sold. Recently we found this old metal frame of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and it looks ancient! There was a quality to it where I wondered, what is its story? Similarly, I brought back rugs from Tunisia — they’re so interesting and reflective of that part of the world, of the time I spent there. You can’t buy these kinds of things at a big retail store, and I love that.
Do you have any tips for interior design on a budget?
Declutter. Your space may be overwhelmed with stuff. Take some inventory, figure out what you really love, what are your must haves to keep, and then see what is outdated or overdone. For example, people collect a lot of books, and they can take over. Pick your favorites and store or donate the rest. Also, revamp. Sometimes we have pieces that seem old and tired but with a fresh coat of paint or new way of use, they come back to life!
How have you used Revival Rugs’ pillows and rugs in your own space?
I love the Revival Rugs’ pieces I selected. The pillows are more desert, dusty muted tones which I gravitate towards. The rust orange palette is beautiful, but the pattern is what really stands out. It’s made from vintage carpets, and it offers a lot of texture.
My vintage rug is an off-white and black small rug with a striped pattern. Sitting in a corner with my Acapulco chair, it feels like they were meant to be together. It’s an interesting marriage of two cultures and styles that almost feel like they were always meant to be. Looking at the wrought iron base of the chair with the natural fiber seat, and my Revival rug from Turkey with what looks to be North African influence, the combo looks perfect together. It’s a corner that makes me smile every time.