Award Winning Designer Cheryl Stauffer Draws Inspiration From Her Childhood, Infusing The World Around Her With Color Through ‘Crimson Design’

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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Stauffer / Submission

Cheryl Stauffer, CEO of Crimson Design, is an award-winning interior designer of residential and commercial spaces. Her work is vibrant and adventurous, bringing an international flare full of culture and beauty to any space. For the past 20 years, through Crimson Design, she had been sharing her gift by bringing vivid energy to personal and social spaces throughout the Midwest.

Cheryl’s talents were not realized at a young age and came to life as she found her calling. Raised by missionary parents, Stauffer spent her early childhood in the jungles of South America, in a life completely void of color. As she grew up and discovered her talent and passion for design, Stauffer infused amazing combinations of color with an international flair into all her work.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Crimson Design has been commissioned by developers since 2013 to design the most modern community living spaces, restaurants, bars, and areas of the city that are young, professional, and attracting talent from across the globe. Her most recent designs include Lux 23, a new luxury suite multi-living complex, and the Whisky Lounge in Columbus.

Cheryl recently spoke to Haute Residence about where she finds her inspiration and what sets Crimson Design apart in an industry full of unique talent.

Photo Courtesy of Crimson Design / Submission

Stauffer, who grew up in the untamed jungles of Paraguay, South America, was raised by Mennonite missionaries who dedicated much of their lives to helping others. “Living among the locals and indigenous Indians shaped how I look at the world,” Stauffer told us.

“It also curated my love of cultures, which has given me a different viewpoint of spirituality and made my world much larger. I was instilled with a strong faith and acceptance of people from all walks of life and I’ve carried those values into my adult life through my artistic work, philanthropic efforts, and of course, my family.”

Stauffer’s most recent work, Luxe 23, has received a tremendous amount of attention. The 113 luxury suite apartment complex located in the heart of Short North (Columbus, Ohio) has a rooftop terrace and a refined social venue known as The Whiskey Lounge.

“Our design goal was to create an experience to transport guests into another world,” Stauffer says. “The inspiration started with Pierre Frey fabric that represented caftans collected at a bazaar as colorful as Ikats. The starting point in the design was the use of color, custom brass light fixtures, mosaic tiles, and custom-designed wood cabinetry. The rooftop terrace displays chandeliers from Italy.”

Stauffer describes this as a “one-of-a-kind” piece that serves as a local landmark, creating curiosity and making for memorable Instagram moments.

Haute Design: What was the biggest challenge with Luxe 23?

Cheryl Stauffer: The design challenge was to translate and marry the developer’s vision along with the restauranteur’s vision for a seamless design of the lobby, The Whiskey Lounge, and throughout the five-story complex.

To give a new spin on modern imagery, we created unique art with a Renaissance vibe which was graffitied, with a collection of modern and old pieces comprising the art and furniture. Additionally, there is a 12-foot sculpture of a woman from the waist down, which was designed by our team and manufactured by a local company.

Within the weeks of its opening, Luxe 23 was a success for the developer and at 100 percent occupancy.

HD: Where do you pull your inspiration from today? How do you keep your designs unique / fresh / vibrant?

CS: Most of my inspiration comes from my travels and experience with other cultures. From the vibrant colors and patterns of the Massai tribe in Africa to the refined architecture in Europe, I see art and inspiration everywhere I go.

My goal is to make the typically unseen beauty, seen by people in the spaces I create. I love being able to make a difference in the lives of our clients and transform how they view and experience their spaces. The art of interior design can have an emotional and spiritual effect, and I enjoy creating something beautiful for each client to appreciate. This industry is full of makers and creatives who think outside of the box and bring ideas to life; the people and their ideas are what makes interior design so magical!

HD: Let’s talk about some of your philanthropic work, specifically with the orphanage in Thailand you are building and designing.

CS: My husband, Luis, and I have a heart for adoption. Luis was adopted from Guatemala and we have an adopted daughter, sparking our interest in having a bigger impact with children. We worked with Asia’s Hope, which provides residential housing and a family-care environment for orphaned children in Thailand, Cambodia, and India.

The project, which started in 2019, couldn’t have been done without the help of our clients and vendors, allowing us to raise $250,000 over the course of 6 months to build the home. Now, it houses 20 children with ages ranging from 2 to 16. Most of the children in the orphanage are from a hill tribe, and now have access to a safe, nurturing environment and education while staying true to their culture.

HD: Do you feel comfortable talking about your work in Columbus, designing a home for victims of human trafficking?

CS: Unfortunately, Ohio is one of the top 10 states for human trafficking, with a clean and constant need to address the issue.

We first became involved with the Rehab’s Hope project to spread awareness and bring comfort to victims. When the organization’s founder started an effort to transform a 32-bed facility into a home to transition women who are victims of trafficking and start new lives, I took the lead to gather the design community and get involved.

We enlisted the help of eight other designers, along with Value City Furniture to turn this facility into a home. We wanted this place to feel safe, warm, and comforting. We put our collective skills to work, mixing both old and new pieces to bring the rooms to life through soft colors and textures. We are excited about this project and are expecting a December 2021 completion date. 

HD: What does ‘success’ mean for you in today’s interior design industry?

CS: Success in many industries is based upon relationships, which also holds true in design. Building and maintaining long-term relationships with clients, subcontractors, and vendors is critical to long-term success. There are many layers and details to each piece of a project, as it is a complex industry. For this reason, knowing how to navigate the many working pieces and streamlining processes to increase efficiency has always, and will always need continuous improvement.

Another key to achieving success is surrounding yourself with a strong team. I have worked hard to recruit a team of thought leaders with amazing talent that are committed to the Crimson vision.

HD: What advice would you give to incoming designers, perhaps Millennial/Gen-Z targeted, on how to get started and succeed?

CS: To get to the top, you have to start at the bottom. You have to be willing to take leaps beyond just interior design - which means getting out from behind the computer and going to your sites, seeing the whole process from start to finish, and actively participating.

Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Some leaders I look to for inspiration that embody these values include Joni Vanderslice of J. Banks Design Group and Kit Kemp of Firmdale Hotels and Kit Kemp Design Studio.


To learn more about Crimson Design and Cheryl Stauffer’s work, CLICK HERE.


Be sure to follow Crimson Design on Instagram, @crimsondesigngroup.

Written in partnership with Ascend

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