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Meet Patricia Chiu of design renovations by Patricia Gee Chiu in North Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Chiu.

Patricia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
For as long as I can remember, there were only two things that piqued my interest to pursue as career possibilities, architecture and acting. At around the age ten or eleven, I had a fortunate opportunity to audition for a part in a John Lone film however with absolutely no acting experience and shaky nerves, it did not fare well. At the same time, I was also very much into Legos and drawing up mock floor plans of my dream home out of many sheets of college ruled paper taped endlessly together. I don’t think many of my friends at that age were doing the same. They probably had real toy houses to play with instead.

My love of architecture continued into college where I attended Woodbury University, a small private campus in Burbank, CA. It was an arduous five-year program, but I can proudly say that I made it! I became the first in my family on both sides to graduate college, with a professional degree. After graduation, I continued my internship with architect Christopher Ward, AIA in Santa Monica and shortly thereafter received an opportunity with Pickard Architects to explore architecture in a different facet. Ultimately, I wanted to grow my experience further and joined MCG Architects in Pasadena up until I got married in 2002. Relocating to Orange County, I then found employment with STDR Architects in Costa Mesa. With every move, I gained more knowledge, more experience and more patience which I believe are the key factors for my decision to go on my own. It was and continues to be one of the scariest yet exciting ventures for me.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I believe that with success comes past failures. Personally, growing up poor in Los Angeles certainly had its challenges. I did not have access to classes or probably didn’t know how I could make architecture a reality. Seeing the hardships that my immigrant parents endured provided motivation and strength to strive and fight. I had to take initiative and research what direction to take on my own. At the time, I think I made the right choices.

During my years in the industry, working as an Asian female in a predominantly white male field was sometimes uncomfortable. Although it didn’t pose any challenges I couldn’t overcome, I felt I had to work harder to prove myself, to show them I knew what I was doing, to belong. For that I am glad because it has provided me with a coat of ‘thick skin’. It is refreshing to see the rise of women in the architectural profession.

Please tell us about design renovations by Patricia Gee Chiu.
design renovations specialize in residential interior remodels and provides services from design consultations to spatial planning to materials selections and showroom visitations to contractor referrals. I like to consider my business a hand holding service to those who don’t quite need an architect but are in need of guidance during an overwhelming undertaking.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had a do-over, I probably would have made more appointments to talk to my high school counselor but I do not look back with any regrets. I am very blessed and content at where I am today. A very good lesson from all this is what I am passing on to my two young sons. I proudly display my taped up (as they call ancient, I like to call them vintage) floor plans from thirty-two years ago and demonstrate the importance to dream big, that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it. I can only hope that the sight and smell of the aged yellowed paper with tarnished tape holding everything together makes a believer out of them, out of anybody.

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