With Centered By Design, Claire Staszak Transforms Homes into Sanctuaries

Fueling Centered By Design is Staszak’s belief that taking the time to re-center ourselves and find a personal sanctuary is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced world.

Passion and talent: Claire Staszak lists these qualities as the reason she was able to start her own business. And judging by her success, she has no shortage of either. Centered By Design is the culmination of her years spent in marketing, philanthropy and event planning—it’s her own creative endeavor, and an inspired one at that.

“I realized that everyone I was following on the Internet and looking up to, as role models, were women who owned their own creative businesses. I also knew that I had a good eye for design, color and space arrangement—it’s a unique talent that not everyone possesses,” Staszak said. “Armed with experience in marketing and event planning, I knew now was the time to venture out on my own as a small business owner. With that, Centered By Design was born. It still feels like a risk, but I have worked enough to know and believe that if you have passion, talent and drive, you can make just about anything happen.”

Fueling Centered By Design is Staszak’s belief that taking the time to re-center ourselves and find a personal sanctuary is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced world. And that sanctuary is much closer to home than most think. Now, Staszak is using that self-taught expertise and natural talent to transform homes throughout the greater Chicagoland area by creating functional, beautiful and personal spaces.

“My approach to working with clients blends my intuitive nature as a yoga instructor with my passion for interior design. I see on a daily basis how the connection between the body, mind and our physical environment can have powerful influences on personal well-being,” Staszak said. “As a designer, my purpose is to make you feel at ease during the design process and help you discover your own idea of sanctuary. Whatever environment makes the client feel good is what I strive for.”

Most recently, when a family of four city dwellers fell in love with original horse stables and the sprawling backyard of a historic home in Lake Forest, Illinois, they enlisted Staszak to help set up a 700-square-foot coach house as their own homestead during renovations of the main house. The 1919 structure was built over a large garage, and includes a first-floor entry with a second-level porch, small kitchen, lounge, bathroom and two bedrooms. Staszak used local vendors and vintage finds to meet her tight, eight-week deadline. She went the semi-custom route by choosing several key pieces from MegMade’s extensive warehouse of antique furniture. She also commissioned reclaimed wood open kitchen shelving and a new bathroom cabinet from Foundre Made.

As an emerging interior designer, Staszak says the past few years have been a learning process—one with its fair share of ups and downs. But today, Staszak is proud to say that she has dozens of beautiful projects and happy clients under her belt. One of the biggest trends she's seen within her industry is the sheer accessibility of interior design. Whether it's through a referral or simply finding a freelance designer online, finding the perfect home aesthetic is no longer viewed as an unaffordable luxury.

She's also noticed that clients no longer choose designers based on their style alone. It's about finding someone that you can get along with and connect with on both a personal and professional level. 
"These days, the design world is a lot more broad. Designers have started catering much more to what their clients want. Of course, everyone still has their signature style to set themselves apart, but it's so important to be flexible," Staszak added.  

But perhaps the biggest lesson Staszak has learned as she gets her small business off the ground is this: don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the world of interior design, she believes that leveraging and embracing the strengths of others—rather than looking at them as competitors—can go a long way.

“Collaboration is king. You can’t be afraid to ask for help, or to reach out to friends—or strangers—with collaboration ideas. As I grow my business, the best and most exciting moments have come during collaboration,” Staszak said. “Don’t be afraid to send a blind email. Imagine the best possible scenario that could come from that email while you hit send—it might just come true. It’s also important to prepare yourself to grow a thicker skin. Putting yourself out there is a big risk—but it’s also a huge reward.”

Photo courtesy of Centered By Design.