Michelle Holland’s career trajectory has been atypical. Trained as a mechanical engineer, she went from quality control at Toyota to interior design for customers across the country. Today, she is the owner of Michelle Holland Interiors as well as Patina, an antiques and home furnishings store in Shelburne.
Holland’s parents were set designers and she grew up in the theater. She stepped away from that field after college with her job at Toyota. Based in the Midwest, Holland managed teams of workers, travelled and had a great deal of responsibility, but she missed having a creative element in her life so she decided to make a clean break. “At 30 I quit my job and put everything in storage,” she said.
She married Tucker Holland and began doing research and development for his ski and snowboard company. The two also had a side business buying and refurbishing houses in Shelburne and Charlotte. Tucker’s family had owned an interior design business in Nantucket for four decades.
When Tucker opted to sell the snow sport business, Michelle decided to try her hand at full-time design work. Within two weeks, she had five clients and in 2005 she started Michelle Holland Interiors.
In 2007, the owners of Patina contacted the Hollands to see if they were interested in purchasing the shop. She said, “Two weeks later I had the keys and wondered, what have I done?”
Five years later, Tucker’s mother decided to retire so the couple took over the Nantucket store as well. The Hollands haven’t changed Patina much since they took over; they only broadened its scope from specializing in English antiques to goods from all over, including some local products, with an emphasis on painted furniture.
Holland’s interior design work takes her all over the country from the Atlantic Seacoast to Los Angeles. Her services range from simply refreshing a room to working with architects and builders from the ground up. “What we do is very custom,” she said. “Every house and project is different and designed to reflect the owner’s style.”
“This is something I really love,” Michelle said of her career. “Maybe I didn’t set out to do it but it turned into something I really care about. I feel really lucky to have this opportunity.”
Tucker was a member of the Shelburne Planning Commission and did a lot of work on the LaPlatte Nature Park. Although the couple splits their time between Nantucket and Shelburne, Michelle continues to love her Chittenden County home. “I love the historic nature of Shelburne,” she said. “You fall in love with Shelburne Farms and the Museum and the lake. It’s a small town and feels close-knit but there’s so much culture. It offers everything.”