Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Cathy Purple Cherry

In each architectural venture, Cathy Purple Cherry seeks to enhance her project’s habitat as well as its inhabitants. Cherry’s creativity shapes itself to the beauty of the surrounding environment, and the lifestyle of clients. In this way, she finds fulfillment in her work – acting as an innovator whose visions at Purple Cherry Architects amplify her clients and community. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, Cathy Purple Cherry.

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Purple Cherry Architects blend luxurious and cozy at this Maryland country manor, with large windows, an abundance of balconies, and an inground pool.

Purple Cherry Architects blend luxurious and cozy at this Maryland country manor, with large windows, an abundance of balconies, and an inground pool.

Andrew Joseph: If you weren’t a designer, you’d be a ….?
Cathy Purple Cherry: If I weren’t an architect, I would possibly be an emergency room physician, but not because that’s my dream career – because I know I would be very capable at it. It’s a high-stress, solution-oriented position and I perform very well in those situations. That said, being an artist would bring me the most joy. However, if you ask what others tell me I should be, it’s an attorney. I am passionate, I am creative, and can be very strategic.

Andrew: What’s your design pet peeve?
Cathy: My design pet peeve is any detail that creates a distraction or a distortion of views. That could be anything from having a door crash into another door, being able to view a toilet from a living space, or even simply poor joinery. This has more to do with small details that disrupt the overall design harmony.

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This family retreat, nestled within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, combines Cherry’s classic log cabin roofing with modern furnishings.

This family retreat, nestled within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, combines Cherry’s classic log cabin roofing with modern furnishings.

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Cathy: I would describe my personal style as eclectic, fun and unpretentious. My style has evolved over the years as a direct result of being a city girl who married a man born and raised on a tobacco farm. For 41 years of our marriage, we have maintained a large vegetable garden. We are animal lovers and currently have five dogs, three ferrets, and three cats. My lifestyle requires durability – I like the comfort of not worrying about spills, items breaking, or pets having an accident. Basically, I am a casual girl.

Andrew: Do you get your eight hours a night? – What is your schedule like?
Cathy: Honestly, I do not get eight hours of sleep a night, and have not since I came out of school. I generally work seven days a week. I am a morning person and typically start work very early (around 4:00am) to not substantially disrupt the evenings with my family. It’s not that I don’t wish to have more rest, but I ultimately feel a responsibility to my clients and my staff to be thorough in the oversight of my team’s work.

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The open structure and warm-toned wood of the retreat’s porch honor and accentuate its forested environment.

The open structure and warm-toned wood of the retreat’s porch honor and accentuate its forested environment.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Cathy: It is hard to narrow it down to one. Three dream projects come to mind, and admittedly they’re all quite different. One would be a mountaintop home in Montana with magnificent 360-degree views. The home would either be some form of a rustic yet elegant log cabin or a very contemporary home utilizing wood and glass. Another would be the epitome of a magnificent coastal home in Martha’s Vineyard incorporating classic coastal details and extensive millwork. The last would be a home of meditation – a minimalist structure that truly engages with the natural elements, creates a sense of calmness, and embraces the principles of Feng Shui and the concepts of Wabi-Sabi.

Ultimately, I am most drawn to the simplicity of living environments. I love old worldliness, decaying plaster walls, exposed wood beams, a sense of history. I also love clean, modern spaces with natural textured walls and comfortable and inviting furniture. Essentially, work that feels incredibly reflective. My dream commission is one whose architecture does nothing but enhance the nature that surrounds it.

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Cherry’s work often draws inspiration from classic designs while maintaining a distinct charm, displayed in the sloping ceiling and paneled windows of this snug office space.

Cherry’s work often draws inspiration from classic designs while maintaining a distinct charm, displayed in the sloping ceiling and paneled windows of this snug office space.

Andrew: What would you like to be remembered for?
Cathy: Although it is extremely gratifying to finally see the fruition of a highly creative and complex design project, what I really want to be remembered for is always doing the right thing, being a great advocate for my clients and their projects as well as for the special needs community, and for being a good mentor to those I have taught.


blankAbout The Designer | Purple Cherry Architects, Cathy’s namesake firm, embraces advanced technologies and new materials in their custom designs for luxury residential architecture. Energetic and creative, Cathy is a natural leader and she relishes the problem solving inherent in architectural design. Warm and thoughtful, she gathers and processes information that informs the big picture as well as all the subtleties. She considers lifestyle as much as aesthetics. A wife and mother of three—her eldest is a special needs child—Cathy deeply understands the desire for a dream home that is not only beautiful, but which also supports the values and needs of her clients. A visionary and three-dimensional thinker, she is able to turn aspirations into built reality.

While she revels in the intricate design opportunities presented by high-end residential architecture, Cathy is equally passionate about her philanthropic efforts. She and her firm offer their design knowledge and sensitivity to the special needs community via the Purple Cherry Purposeful Architecture Studio. A true creative servant, Cathy Purple Cherry is unfailing in her efforts to positively impact all those around her and those in need.

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