The story of one of interior designer Stasia Berk’s first clients is one that perfectly illustrates her philosophy, talent and imagination. The job was for a couple who had purchased waterfront property in Beaufort and had built the dock, but not the home. The budding designer drove to the property to meet with the couple, who had prepared a picnic to share on the dock. As they ate and looked back at the land, the owners told Berk about their concerns about what size house they could build. They seemed overwhelmed and didn’t know how to turn their dreams into reality.
After those few minutes with them, Berk knew just how to do it.
“I’m going to follow your lead,” she told them. “You built this dock first, before building your house.” Berk told the couple she would start be creating inviting, functional outdoor spaces – a fire pit, a fishing station, an outdoor sitting room – and then they’d move into the rooms that would overlook the water and begin designing those. “We’re going to do this the way you started it,” Berk assured them. “We know exactly what we want this house to look like and feel like.”
Berk describes that house as “one of best projects I’ve ever worked on.” It earned her a third place ASID design award. But more than that, it sums up what she’s all about.
“I really think customer focus is what sets me apart from many designers out there,” she says. “The client’s happiness is our primary goal. It’s not just getting something finished, or trying to tell them it’s going to be OK and eventually they’re going to love it.”
The Hilton Head Island-based designer has had her own firm, Stasia Berk Interior Design, for 11 years. Before entering the field, she’d spent years working for technology companies in training and best practices, and had most recently been Vice President of Creative Design for a New York firm. Eventually she got burned out from all the travel, and had the itch to do something different.
“People had always told me I had a knack for design,” Berk says. “I think having a knack is one thing, but really knowing what you’re doing is another.” So she quit her job and went back to school – at warp speed – completing the Art Institute of Charlotte’s four-year residential design degree in two years.
In her last year as a student, she began working, for free, for some of the college’s faculty members, who encouraged her to strike out on her own after graduation. She’d always imagined searching for a job with an established interior design firm, but thanks to her husband’s encouragement, she decided to give self-employment a try.
It’s a gamble that has definitely paid off.
“When I combine my background in consulting with what I’ve learned with the design degree, it gives me a very unique skill set,” Berk says of her success. “If you take my pragmatic organizational skills, add to it the creativity, problem-solving and visionary abilities, it’s a left-right brain combination, and it is strong.”
Berk is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Interior Designers, from whom she has won four design excellence awards. She also is a volunteer industry leader for the Women’s Association of Hilton Head Island, where she leads workshops and offers free advice to members.
“Interior design isn’t something that happens to you, it happens with you. We look at things collectively,” says Berk of her process with clients. “My style is whatever the client wants.”
Please visit Stasia Berk Designs, located at 75A Capital Drive, Hilton Head, SC 29926 or call her at 843-301-3385.