Owner and principal architect of Studio C Architecture & Interiors Cherri Pitts has known she wanted to be an architect since she was just 10 years old. Cherri credits her success to her grandfather’s confidence in her at an early age, helping him in his woodworking shop and later the support of both grandparents with her first renovation project. Clearly they recognized the passion and the talent this woman embodies! Cherri joins us today as our FACE of Birmingham. Welcome, Cherri!
Where did you grow up? And what brought you to Birmingham?
I was born in Louisiana but moved to Tucson, Arizona, to be near my mother’s family when I was very young. We eventually made our way back to Louisiana when I was 12, which is where I lived and went to college until I moved to Birmingham just over nine years ago. As to how I found my way to Birmingham, my partner was transferred to Birmingham for a great job opportunity, so I closed my design practice in Louisiana and made the move here. It turned out to be the best thing we ever did. Birmingham feels like home.
Tell us about Studio C Architecture & Interiors.
We specialize in custom residential and private retreats, but we also design for commercial projects that require a more personalized approach. We are client-centric and enjoy creating the total concept for our clients’ projects. My firm not only designs and develops for the building and space planning, but also offers custom interior design and selections, so that the architecture and interiors of the project are aligned.
When did you know you wanted to be an architect?
I fell in love with architecture at age 10, in fifth grade. I remember that day vividly. A classmate’s father was an architect, and he came to our class to talk about his trip to Paris. He presented a slideshow of the buildings he visited, and I knew in that moment I was going to be an architect. Here I am! I feel very lucky to have found my calling at such a young age and to have stayed the course.
Have you had any mentors?
Many special people have helped me along my path, but I’d have to say my grandparents were my most important “life” mentors. I worked with my grandfather in his woodworking shop and helped him fix this or that. I was eager to learn how to build or fix things, and he was happy to teach me. And he had complete confidence that I was perfectly capable. Most of my down time was spent with them, and I renovated my first “fixer-upper” with his and my grandmother’s help. When I was in college, I even brought a few architecture assignments home and built site models in their woodworking shop!
What do you love most about Southern architecture?
You can’t live in the South and not love a big porch!
What did your bedroom look like when you were a teenager?
It was well-edited. Ha! At heart, I am a bit of a minimalist, and I think it was even represented in my teenage bedroom — which I created to be my peaceful sanctuary from my three younger brothers. Art that my mother and I painted, my favorite books and a few horse statues were the decor. I am still taken by the beauty of horses and have a small statue next to my bed, as well as a small collection of special books. It’s funny how some things never change.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Follow your dreams — as cliché as that sounds, it’s true. Being a woman in the field of architecture wasn’t always easy, but my family always encouraged me from a very young age. They told me to dream big and go after it, and that has stayed with me during the toughest times. After following the dream for so long, it’s wonderful to actually get to live the dream.
What advice would you give to others?
Life is too short to spend most of your time doing something you don’t love. One of my favorite quotes says, “When you decide to commit, the universe conspires to assist you.” And I don’t think you can truly commit unless you are doing something that fulfills you.
What local event are you most looking forward to?
There are so many local events I love attending, from Magic City Art Connection to Light Dreams at Alys Stephens, but something I’m really excited about is going to the Birmingham Museum of Art to see the new exhibition called Lethal Beauty, which features Samurai weapons and armor. They had me at the title — I love that museum.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
We have a ritual of getting together once a week for a family dinner, and usually afterward we are throwing Frisbee in the front yard, going to the park to play tennis or playing with the dogs. It’s perfect summer fun!
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
How can you choose only one in Birmingham, with so much good local food?! Surin is among my favorites for easy and delicious Thai food or sushi. For a more formal night out, I love Café Dupont or Jinsei. Also, we often run to Saw’s in Avondale to split the Saw’s Burger. They might just have the best one in town.
What are you listening to these days?
Lana Del Rey is a new favorite. I just saw her in concert at the Ryman in Nashville. But I recently got a record player, and I have been playing Billie Holiday’s “Lady Sings the Blues” on repeat.
What books are you reading?
I read a lot of architecture and design books, no surprise. But, I’m actually reading along with my nephew on his summer reading project. Right now, we are reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Mark Twain is hilarious! I think I’m getting more out of this summer reading thing than my nephew is.
Do you have any quirks or irrational fears?
I’ve been called quirky a time or two, and irrational fears — definitely. Wooden roller coasters. Those things terrify me. The longer I stand in line analyzing the connections, the higher the odds are that I will not be getting on the ride.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding friends, family and faith.
Something to draw with (I am obsessed with my antique propelling pencil collection), something to draw on and, if I’m being completely honest, chocolate!
Thanks for sharing, Cherri! And a huge thanks to Alisha Crossley for today’s beautiful photos!