January 31, 2024 | Rebecca Scott for Travel Phoenix Oregon
Architecture seamlessly blends artistic creativity with practical functionality, offering people the opportunity to customize their environment—whether it’s remodeling their kitchen or entire house. Working with a professional architect allows individuals to navigate the delicate balance between innovation and tradition, transforming abstract concepts into something tangible.
Local architect Cynthia Guthrie specializes in new residential and remodeling—with an emphasis on kitchen design—and has served the Rogue Valley since 1996 with integrity, consistency and enthusiasm throughout her career.
A melding of passions
Cynthia has been a professional architect for nearly 30 years and started her career by working with local firms in Ashland and Medford to complete her internship and licensing. In 1994, she began her journey as a sole proprietor and business owner.
“I love that I get to choose my projects most of the time,” she said.
She primarily focuses on residential projects, which hold a special place in her heart and memories. Cynthia grew up in a family that loved to remodel houses, so the work was second nature to her. And while working on newer commercial and residential properties tends to result in easier projects, doing remodels has always been her passion.
“Each project is different and I love the challenge it offers.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Cynthia’s business and passions have evolved over the years.
“In the last 15 years, I started thinking about what I really wanted to do and narrowed my focus to working on kitchens,” she said. “Cooking and food is a big part of my life. I’m comfortable in the kitchen and designing kitchens for cooks and people who want to expand their space.”
Designing a dream space
Cynthia was born in Berkeley, California and moved to Oregon after graduating from high school. She attended the University of Oregon to study architecture and afterward interned with some of the local architects here.
“Architecture as a career didn’t occur to me until I looked at my skill set, what brings me joy and what doesn’t. I realized I’m good at visualization, math, science and art,” she said. “I decided architecture was a great fit, plus I wanted to be my own boss. It all came together.”
Whatever the size of the remodel or project, Cynthia first meets with the client and learns what they’re envisioning for their space and what they want from her. In her experience, some people may have a fully realized plan of what they want while others have no idea what to do.
“It depends on the client,” she said. “I take the information they give me and come up with some schematic ideas and hand drawn options. We go through the design and review process and I draw up a final plan. I also walk them through the permit process.”
Cynthia also designs spaces which will help make life easier and more comfortable for her clients as they age. She wants people to stay in their dream home for as long as possible, so she anticipates potential needs and incorporates applicable safety features into her designs.
“There are many little details that must be addressed to make a house safer and create a space people will love,” she said.
A sense of community
Outside of work, Cynthia has a variety of interests and loves to help her community.
“I love volunteering with Rogue Food Unites. I volunteer in a fresh organic produce market they hold every week. It’s a no cost, no barrier market,” she said.
They are also building a commercial kitchen to provide emergency food supplies to the community. Through her volunteer work, Cynthia was involved in helping obtain a permit for the new kitchen.
Looking toward the future, Cynthia hopes to continue to weave her love of food and cooking into her business, which would mean completing even more kitchen projects.
“Kitchens are a very personal space,” she said. “Everyone envisions something different for their kitchen, whether it’s more of a gathering space or one with all the best gadgets and appliances.”
While Cynthia enjoys the creativity involved in designings spaces, she loves working with people and creating what they want.
“I’m the architect who’s willing to spend time discovering what people want and make that a reality,” she said.