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Pottinger turns childhood passion into successful career

As a girl growing up in Hastings, Suzanne Pottinger was already showing off her home designing skills. She would rearrange furniture in her house and raked leaves into house floor plans instead of the typical pile. When she went to friends' houses, she always wanted to know where all the rooms were so she could see how they functioned together to create a home.

"I've always liked how houses function," she said.

In high school she took a hand drafting class and loved it. It was the ability to let her creativity flow through her hand, she said. Her brand of creativity isn't as much artistic as it is abstract, she explained. She knows how to be creative with lines, with whole house plans, with arranging a home in a way that it functions smoothly.

By the time she went to college, she knew she wanted to work in design, but she wasn't entirely sure which specific type of design she wanted to focus on. Through her classes she realized it was structural and spatial design that she liked.

Now Pottinger is the spatial designer for Novare Renovation and Design, a home remodeling business she created with Tim Zilles, who had worked with her at the last company she worked for. The business is located in Woodbury, and Pottinger lives in Vermillion, having moved there from Hastings in 1996.

"I never wanted to be someone who hates going to work," she said.

After college, she had gone to work doing kitchen and bathroom design, but she found herself gravitating toward remodeling work because there she was dealing with people who were already living in a space and already knew it wasn't functioning for them.

"We're basically problem solving for them," she said.

About two years ago, Pottinger and Zilles decided that they wanted to take their careers in a different direction than their former company was going, and started Novare. The skills between them were enough to cover all the bases their clients would need, he as the project manager and she as the spatial designer.

"The thing that keeps me going now is the people," Pottinger said.

Because every home is different and every owner is looking for something to meet their specific needs, her work is always fresh.

"I basically do the same thing on each project, but each project is different," she said.

This past weekend, Pottinger and Zilles took part in the 2011 Remodeler's Showcase in St. Paul, a sort of Parade of Homes for remodeled homes.

"We wanted to find one avenue of marketing that was it for us," Pottinger said.

Over three days, potential remodelers toured one of the homes Novare completed and got to talk with Pottinger and Zilles about the work they do. It was a busy weekend, Pottinger said, but a successful one.