World Tour: Designer Cheryl Stauffer’s Global Bexley Abode
A local designer’s global travels have led to a family home reflective of those experiences.
Walking through Cheryl Stauffer’s Bexley living room is like flipping through the pages of a travel magazine.
A child’s garment from a tribe in Thailand is displayed in a glass case. Underfoot, a multi-patterned, red runner, purchased from a bazaar in Istanbul, covers the floor. A rose-colored crystal on a front table was left by the home’s previous owner. Other pieces from India and Argentina all share stories and lived experiences.
On the mantle, mixed and matched frames display a variety of artworks. “We love art, and when we travel, we often buy pieces. We collect things from around the world,” Stauffer says. She estimates that she and her husband, Luis, have been to 70 countries combined. “I think we were, in another life, wanderers. … We’re still wanderers.”
Travel can offer insight into other cultures, provide perspective, and help stretch our comfort with and understanding of others, according to Stauffer, who founded Crimson Design Group in 2003. Her designs are influenced by this philosophy, not only in her own home, but with her clients, too.
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“Curiosity is my number one driver,” she says. “There’s a sense of curiosity and exploring [in travel] that helps you see how other people live and gives you a much bigger worldview.”
Born in Paraguay to Mennonite missionaries, Stauffer stayed in South America until she was 7 years old. Her father, a cow farmer, also worked in a medical clinic in the jungle, helping deliver babies and providing ambulance services. “He was rooted in the community, helping the local natives flourish,” she says.
Although the Mennonite lifestyle in which she was immersed as a child was largely devoid of color, the vibrant colors and interesting shapes of the jungle stuck with her. Big, bold patterns, like tribal prints, and rich color combinations make their way into her work designs—and her home.
From the main entryway, two vivid chairs command attention in a sitting room, just off the dining room. The room is small, with a large bay window that lets in warm sun rays.
Stauffer picked up the chairs for $25 each at an antique store, and had the frames lacquered in a bright blue to complement the fabric’s Schumacher design, which is called Magical Ming Dragon. Locally, Fortner produced the final products.
On the window ledge above the chairs, blue-and-white Ming vases in a variety of shapes sit on top of thick, hardback books about plants and design. They complement a white vase filled with fresh hydrangea. “This is one of my favorite rooms in the house, especially in the morning with the sun,” she says.
“Nature is our number one inspiration,” she says. “The dirt [in South America] was bright red, and there were tropical trees and flowers. Color can fill us and drive us and help us live vibrantly.”
Just like at home, travel destinations, and even the types of hotels people stay in, are a big part of Stauffer’s work with design clients. During initial conversations, she asks where people travel. “Hotels are a getaway, they’re a sanctuary, so what is it about those places that they love that we can help translate into their homes,” she says.
Clothing choices, such as colors and patterns, plus “distinct objects” like heirlooms and antiques, also provide guidance. “Using those pieces or things they’ve collected, their children’s things ... it’s more than just filling the room. It adds purpose and belonging,” she adds.
A large family room, also packed with items from their travels, leads to the backyard, which is where the family does much of its entertaining. Lush shade trees blend with potted plants to fill the space with welcoming freshness.
“We live out here in the summertime,” she says. The spacious yard boasts a comfortable outdoor dining area, pool, and cabana room and bar, which pops with baby-blue subway tiles that cover the walls.
Though it was largely colorless, Stauffer says she learned a lot from the simplistic Mennonite lifestyle. “I learned that the most important things in life aren’t things, but experiences and relationships,” she says.
Stauffer donates a significant amount of design work and money to charitable causes, including building and designing an orphanage in Thailand, and designing a transitional home for victims of human trafficking in Columbus.
“Your home tells your story,” she says. “It tells you where you are and where you’re going.”
This story is from the November 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.