SK Chamber of Commerce Enhanced by CG Designs

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By Diana Colson

cheryl gaddieCheryl Gaddie is a force of nature. Most recently, she has undertaken the enhancement of our Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, and the result is both stunning and efficient.

Gaddie received a BS in Business Management and soon realized design was her passion. She added credit courses in interior design and has continued that educational practice throughout the years. She opened her business and began her career of design in 1988 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Drawn by the charms of the tropics, Gaddie set up a second studio on Siesta Key in 2005, opening CG Designs. The energetic Gaddie immediately became involved with the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. She kept the Grand Forks office open until 2007, when she permanently settled in Sarasota.

Mark Smith was the perfect partner for Gaddie. A fully credentialed LEED certified architect with over 30 years experience designing contemporary homes and commercial spaces, he was a follower of the Sarasota School of Architecture, which had been made famous by Paul Rudolph and Gene Leedy. Smith followed the modern style that was often the hallmark of Sarasota’s beautiful barrier islands. Indeed, Smith was the architect of Gaddie’s 3,000 square foot home on Siesta Key, which can best be described as classic contemporary.

Together Gaddie and Smith have developed a combined office & new showroom that specializes in elegant residential and commercial designs, offering clients a complete package that includes architecture and interior design services, space planning, and sourcing for custom cabinetry, furniture and fabric. They also brought construction services and project permitting to the table through the use of trusted partners and affiliates of CG Designs.

Gaddie became more and more immersed with the Siesta Key Chamber, and was asked to be on the Board of Directors in 2007, which she chaired for two of the past six years. “This is my last year on the Board,” says Cheryl Gaddie. “We went through a lot of changes, as Chambers do. We have a great Board of Directors, one that is deeply interested in both Chamber and Community.

“The existing chamber office was very tired. It was just not functional. It did not meet the needs of the Chamber, and the Board decided that in order to better serve our members, we should have a more effective and beautiful way to meet our visitors. Because of the number of tourists we serve, we do end up as more of a Visitor Center than most other Chambers.”

Mark Smith also sat on the Board. Together they volunteered to bring the Chamber of Commerce up to speed. They offered to include drawings, permitting, interior specification, and contracting. Together with other members of the Board, they negotiated to move the Chamber two doors away to a vacant space. They would continue operation in the existing office at the same time they built out the new space.

skchamber rendering2The new space was a “white box.” It had concrete floors but no walls. It was extremely long and narrow. The front area needed to be inviting, for it was the area designed to serve tourists and other visitors. The back areas would be designed to serve both volunteers and staff.

“I don’t think people really understand that Interior Design begins with function and space planning,” says Gaddie. “We know what can and cannot be done structurally, but the space needs to serve the needs of the people who will use it.” The people who will work in the space are interviewed, and from those interviews, a concept is developed. Everything has to fit within budget, space restrictions, and building requirements.

“Interior Design is really interior architecture,” says Gaddie. “I’m a minimalist. I believe that a well-designed space does not require additional footage. There’s one design that works best for each space, and you have to find that design.”

When designing the new Chamber of Commerce offices, Gaddie’s problem was this: “We were dealing with a very long, narrow space. One of my biggest tasks was not to have people look down a long hallway.”

The Board trusted Gaddie’s judgment, her design and her ability. The only question they would ever ask was about money: “Are we on budget?” At all points in the process, Gaddie was able to assure them that the project was below or within budget.skchamber rendering

The long narrow “white box” was divided into five distinct areas. The first was a welcoming reception area with a large curved desk and beautiful wood cabinetry custom measured and designed by Miller’s Dutch Haus Furniture in Sarasota. Here the town’s various hotels, restaurants, and attractions would stock handbills and maps for visitors to carry away.

Behind this ‘Visitor Center’ area is the first of three offices, glassed off from the reception area and featuring transom windows which help to spread light through the strip of offices. “Lighting is as important to Interior Design as any other factor,” says Gaddie.

skchamber4Handsome floor tiles were custom designed specifically for the space. Flecks of color in the tiles look like bits of beach glass set against the sand, and the result is both subtle and amazing. Coastal colors were used throughout the building, with the walls of the ‘Visitor Center’ painted with a stronger saturation of color. The office areas were more muted to express Gaddie’s philosophy: “You need to be calm in your work space.” To the back of the three offices one finds a kitchenette and bathroom.

The result is both practical and beautiful. “I’m not a ‘Trends & Fads’ kind of person,” exclaims Gaddie. “I want my designs to be timeless. I believe in energy efficient products and sustainable design.”

The new Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce offices are located at 5118 Ocean Blvd in the village. The indefatigable Cheryl Gaddie is diligently pursuing her MFA from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco in order to cultivate her professional skills to include instructor of business and interior design. More examples of her work can be seen at

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