International designer helps Sioux Falls clients add global flair to homes

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From Brazil to London, Patricia Thoms has immersed herself in international architecture and design – and now her clients in Sioux Falls are seeing the benefit.

Thoms has design and furniture in her DNA. Her grandfather emigrated from Portugal to Brazil, where he opened a furniture store and insurance agency in Rio de Janeiro.

Originally, though, Thoms was drawn to architecture. She worked for construction and architecture firms before going to London in 2011 to study international business.

“I wanted to make something new, and I saw how much Europeans valued interior design,” she said. “Everything was glam and rich, and there was so much color.”

When she returned to Brazil, she shifted her education to interior design, “and it was the best thing ever for my life,” she said.

So how does a Brazilian designer, who specialized in designing retail and restaurant spaces in her home country, become an interior designer in Sioux Falls?

Thoms is used to the question.

“I get asked that a lot,” she said. “My husband is from Sioux Falls.”

They both had experience as exchange students while in high school. They kept in touch for years before becoming a couple in 2017. Her first visit to Sioux Falls came in 2018 to meet her future husband, Troy’s, family, and they married in 2019.

Her background in fine jewelry – she specializes in diamonds – led her first to work in the jewelry industry, but she always had an eye toward working at Montgomery’s.

“Everybody told me, ‘You need to send a resume to Montgomery’s. You need to work at Montgomery’s.’ And finally after two years, they hired me.”

She began working at Montgomery’s in early 2021 and has immersed herself in her work.

“I’m starting to see more European design here in Sioux Falls,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to travel around the world and get inspiration. I’ve been to 20 countries, and I travel internationally at least once a year.”

Since she started working in Sioux Falls, she has served clients from Lebanon, Syria, Venezuela, Brazil and Egypt.

“I need to understand their cultures and what they like in their country to make their dream home here in Sioux Falls,” Thoms said. “My first sale at Montgomery’s was to a young woman who didn’t speak English, and we spoke in Spanish.”

As Sioux Falls becomes a more global community, both new and longtime residents are embracing global design trends, she said.

“You can come to Montgomery’s, and if you speak Spanish, Portuguese, Russian or Italian, you’re going to have someone here who can help you,” she said.

Her own home in the McKennan Park area reflects the direction many others are seeking in their spaces, she said.

“It’s a traditional home in many ways, but my furniture is more modern. I like the mix,” she said. “That’s what you see in European homes – a traditional home with furniture that’s more modern, and that’s one of the biggest trends right now in Sioux Falls. Normally, clients who are moving from the coasts are looking for this. I have some clients from Florida who just moved to Sioux Falls and want a more European style.”

For her clients, Thoms often draws on her architecture skills to create 3D drawings showing how their spaces can look.

In this newly built home, for instance, she showed how to create a clean look while offering lots of seating without overcrowding the living space.

“These recliners are a true caramel leather made in Norway,” Thoms said. “They have a very clean look with no cords on the back of the chairs. They operate with two buttons and a battery in the back. The functionality of the furniture is designed to suit the need for ergonomics and the body’s need for rest and movement.”

She’ll often ask how many people typically sit in a living space and then work with the owner to determine a configuration.

“In this case, the project is two love seats, not a sofa, and when you see it, it’s perfect because it’s not oversized,” she said. “And we got everything pet-friendly so the leather won’t be scratched. And then I helped with the decor and the art on the walls. It’s so pretty. I love this project.”

Thoms easily can guide clients looking for more global design influences through options in the Montgomery’s showroom.

“One of the most fun things is how many options we have for styles and fabrics, and we are able to have products arriving customized in a much shorter time than we did during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s amazing how we can take a very traditional piece and change the fabrics and accessories, and make it look completely modern.”

Thoms also regularly visits European design events “because everything you see there, in two or three years you’ll see it in America,” she said.

Right now, that includes “a lot of velvet, brass and gold and curved lines,” she said. “If you go in Louis Vuitton in Europe, all the furniture is curved arms.”

She’s also anticipating “a lot of plaids, as well as very neutral colors, with a lot of different prints and textures.”

The entire Montgomery’s team, including merchandisers, buyers and designers, are intentional in making sure they can meet the changing tastes of the Sioux Falls community and beyond, said Shelly Johnson, senior marketing manager.

“We study trends in several different ways, including attending market twice a year. Our community is evolving and becoming more diverse, and that impacts the type of design many are looking for in their homes,” she said. “Our team absolutely can deliver a range of styles and do so as part of the Whole Home Design work we’re known for – from top to bottom, we can work with you on everything from a single piece of furniture to an entire home design.”

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