Savvy Giving by Design


Introducing SGBD Charleston Chapter: Meet Christyn Dunning of The Guest House Studio


In an ongoing effort to build a coalition of designers committed to giving back to children with their talents, we are honored to announce our sixth chapter affiliate in Charleston, South Carolina.

Give a warm, savvy welcome to Chapter President, Christyn Dunning of The Guest House Design Studio. Here's a little more about Christyn and her passion for joining us here.

Christyn's Story:

"I am an Interior architect and designer based in Charleston, SC and the proud owner of The Guest House Studio.  Born and raised in small-town Pennsylvania, my passion for design stems from working alongside my father, who taught me the importance of well-built interiors.  I continued to pursue my love for design at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro where I acquired my bachelor's in Interior Architecture.

After working for a design firm in the metropolis DC for several years, I decided to take the leap and open the Guest House Studio in 2015.  The firm specializes in both residential and commercial projects with clients spanning from Charleston to Annapolis, MD and beyond.  At the Guest House Studio we strongly believe that the spaces we inhabit are not just buildings we have placed our “stuff” in, but rather they are a personal testimony to who we are and how we want to live.  The home is where we celebrate life’s most precious moments and seek shelter for its worst. Therefore, we strive to not only create thoughtful and functional spaces but also ones that are uniquely crafted for those who inhabit it.

When I am not at the drafting board you can find me either at the beach or in the mountains.  Always with a good book, listening to a great band, and looking for the next big adventure with my faithful pooch Mr. Tiki and my ever loving, soon to be husband! 

Christyn & her soon-to-be husband

Christyn & her soon-to-be husband

Christyn Dunning Savvy Giving by Design Charleston nonprofit chapter leader

A little over a year ago I sat in a church pew listening to people give testimonies about my grandfather who had recently passed.  He was a man that selflessly gave his time, his money, and the shirt off of his back if you let him.  His life was a life well lived and I was raised to believe that giving and serving was the only way to live.  Since then I have been looking for an organization that would allow me to utilize my skills and experiences in design to further better someone who really needed it. That's when I found Savvy Giving by Design on Instagram and instantly fell in love!

Having once been in a wheelchair and experiencing first hand how the space you inhabit can greatly affect your mental health and your healing, I am so thrilled to be able to transform not only a recipients room but also their state of mind!  

Three weeks after I graduated high school I was stopped at a red light on my way home from the movies.  I received the green light to go and just as I was almost through the intersection I was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  I have since outlived the girl who hit me, her BAC .28;  almost 4 times the legal limit.  Once the car stopped spinning I tried to get out of the vehicle and realized I couldn't feel my legs.  That's when I knew something was seriously wrong.  

I was flown to a local hospital where I would spend the next 4 weeks being treated for a shattered right tibia and wrist, as well as a left talus and femur.  I was told I would never be able to run again and that the road to be able to walk would be a long and painful one.  After I was released from the hospital I was confined to a wheelchair as non-weight bearing for 5 months.  During that time I was confined to my wheelchair and bed.  Growing up in a 2 story house with my bedroom on the 2nd floor, my parents had to make do.  They rented a hospital bed which was set up in our very open living room.  Thankfully we had a family friend who graciously built us a wheelchair ramp so that my father wouldn't have to pick me up just to get me in the house.  There was no shower on the first floor so my mother had to give me sponge baths in the laundry room and wash my hair in the kitchen sink.  I felt humiliated and had no privacy to be angry or sad or in pain.  I needed space to grieve and not have someone fussing over me every second.  One day, I tried to hoist myself up the stairs with my one good arm.  It took me almost twenty minutes but once I slithered into my bedroom and was able to shut the door I felt instantly safe.  I was in a space that was mine and I could feel openly whatever I needed to feel.  I could cry, read, pray, and eventually, I felt like I could do this.  I could overcome this.  Having that space, was so important in my recovery.  

I was determined to start college, wheelchair and all!  Eventually, after 5 months of non-weight bearing and almost 6 months of physical therapy, I was able to walk without so much as a crutch.  I've had 4 more surgeries since then in the last 11 years and although I will always have to deal with a little physical pain, my mental pain is completely restored.  It took a while and certainly would have been easier had Savvy Giving by Design been around back then.  I can personally say that while your physical battle is hard your mental one can make or break your journey.  Having a space to be able to be yourself, and go through the grieving process and eventually, the healing process is so important!  I can't wait to help kids, like me, who need to find their 'me space.'

I want their spaces to be functional and catered to their medical needs but also so uniquely them that there is no denying whose room it is!"

Send this link along to your Charleston friends and encourage them to join the local Facebook group to meet more deserving families, supply more fund-a-needs, and make a difference in their community.

Our organization runs on donations. To support the SGBD Charleston Chapter, please make a donation here!