A note to frustrated parents: the next time your child, for no apparent reason, takes to rearranging their room, don’t panic. You might have the next Courtney Turk on your hands.
The smiley Haligonian, Ottawa-based since 2009, first exhibited her career-making talent moving furniture within the confines of her own home, just for fun. After raising two children of her own, she’s right back at it, this time for fun and profit. Two years ago, Courtney sat down to write a home decorating blog. Next thing she knew, she was delivering her tips—including ones on organizing that messy bookshelf that makes you look bad on Zoom, advice which landed her in Oprah Daily—in person, and, thanks to the pandemic, online.
It forced us into that uncomfortable place where great things can happen,” says the spirited blonde, who shares idol Oprah’s can-do attitude. “We had to overcome switching from daily in-person projects to completely virtual e-design projects… we’ve tapped into a market that we would have otherwise not explored.”
“The entire presentation is done virtually,” she furthers, “with video chats and project delivery alike. What initially seemed like a direction we were forced to take has now become one of our more popular services. We can do it across the country and internationally, with shorter lead times for project completion.”
The two-year-old business, as a result, has boomed. Courtney and her staff of four—including her newest hire, CTI’s first full-time senior decorator—can boast 58 clients and counting.
“It’s no surprise. People have spent a lot of time indoors over the last year and a half, and with this housing boom, so many homeowners are either looking to renovate their current home or the one they recently purchased.”
While interior designers as inextinguishably enthused as Turk and her co-practitioners, who’ve brought the company’s signature style to both residential and commercial spaces, appear born for the job, it’s a professional discipline that takes much more than primary passion.
“It requires patience,” Turk qualifies. “Projects are not completed overnight. In fact, they can take months, years even. Patience is required in all stages of the process, from lead times for products right down to the installs. I think a lot of aspiring decorators see the quick social media posts and HGTV shows that make it all seem so turnkey, but in reality, it’s just not.”
Plus, she invaluably adds, a love of people. Turk cites her relationships with clients as one of the best parts of the job.
“Knowing they put so much trust into my vision and means the world to me and my team. Knowing we are the support they need to rest easy about their decisions is so much of why I love what I do.”
As for creative inspiration, this self-confessed outdoorsy type, for whom a pair of jeans and a loose shirt fit like a second skin, draws a lot from natural surroundings, another reason why the nation’s capital, famously dotted with greenery, is a good place to be.
“Bring the outdoors in” she advises, “whether it is with colours, texture, literal greenery or looking at each angle and how the natural light will filter into the home. There is so much beauty in nature that is untapped around us every day and I love looking at it on a deeper level for each new project.”
If you’re looking for proof, check out CTI’s website. There, you’ll see a small, impressive sample of the bedrooms, condo lobbies, and cottages, from across Canada and the U.S., that Turk and her staff have spent the spring and summer transforming via exotic wood, oversized tiles, and organic accents.
Now that the weather has turned, Turk is looking forward to tuning in to a new seasonal vibe.
“Fall is one of my favourite times of the year,” coos Turk. “The colour palette is so fantastic. Layered textiles and throws are a must as colder weather approaches. We will be introducing a lot more texture in wall paint and wallpaper this year, paired with ornate lighting and deeper hues of furniture and accents.”
Don’t get the impression, though, that she’s advocating the importance of “theme,” a mistake all too common among DIYers.
“I often see homeowners trying to combine multiple different styles into one space. While I’m all for stepping outside the box, this can sometimes lead to a feeling of chaos in your decor. It’s important to have some fluidity and movement through the home that remains consistent, so that the house doesn’t feel disconnected. Being considerate of the energy from one room to the next is important. Mind you, this doesn’t mean every room needs to be the same colour or idea”
It might also help combat those decorative trends, the ones that end up depersonalizing your home or office space.
“There was a major increase in creating visual interest this past year with lots of wood-detailed feature walls, shiplap and board and batten in virtually any space.”
As remedy, Turk is offering the disappointed her ear. Book a consult and let her and her staff sit at your feet for a while.
“Clients need you to make their dreams become a reality. The first step is just to listen to what those wishes are, their likes and dislikes and overall goals.”
It’s a philosophy that goes back to the formative days of her career, when Turk herself was made to heed some guidance, albeit a less diplomatic sort than the kind she dispenses in her practice.
“I was told by someone I admired in the industry that I didn’t know what an honest day’s work felt like and that I would never be respected. That advice has been a driving force throughout my career. Knowing people want to see you fail can be just as motivating as some of the best advice out there.”
There’s that indefatigable optimism again—bringing us back to Oprah.
“The day I found out I was going to be featured in Oprah Daily, I was at a loss for words. It was one of those ‘Momma, I made it!’ moments. Oprah was a daily routine in my house growing up; 5 PM you can bet her show was on while someone was preparing dinner. She is one of the most iconic women of our time and I am still in shock that I had the honour of being featured in one of her articles.”
Better get used to the feeling, Ms.Turk. There’s likely a lot more press in the offing. In fact, there’s already serious buzz about CTI’s next move.
“Next on the agenda is expanding our online shop. I can’t share just yet what is coming to the shop, but I will say we are focusing on collaborating with some other local talent and promoting small businesses and their products!”
By Dan Lalande
Photography by Sean Sisk
Makeup by Corey J. Stone