Meet Irene

Iren e Turnbull has a mission "to make the world happier, one home at a time!" and what's more, she has a track record that proves she has the winning formula!

Now, she wants to share her Secret of Great Interior Design and Decorating with you!!

Irene's journey has followed a meandering path engaging both her creative and her academic skills. Thankfully, it’s this diversity that is the foundation of the gifts she brings to her clients. There’s no doubt in Irene’s mind that her early grounding in home renovation and the building trade play an important role in her ability to provide solution based design & project management today.

She learned how the building industry works first hand, while working in her family’s general contracting business. This combined with the hands on experience of actually labouring alongside of her engineer father as a teenager on the renovation of their century-old family home and then later building her own home, has given her a perspective of the trades not readily available to today’s designers & decorators.

Simultaneously, and more out of necessity at first, Irene was drawn to fabrics and fashion design. Finding ready-made clothes to fit was always a challenge. Remember, she grew up in a world where sewing and making most of her own clothes was just part of life, and in fact, was a required study of home economics in high school. As a result, her interest in fashion became her first calling to the world of design.

She completed programs in fashion design/pattern drafting and also business administration at Ryerson while working full time as Assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Toronto Harbour Commission. It was during this period that Irene’s personal interest in fashion branched out to include home interiors and so she returned to school and graduated from Toronto School of Interior Design in 1975.

After a brief position as a decorator with a large Toronto drapery house and working freelance, she returned to her administrative training and enjoyed a successful career in association management for eleven years. Here she honed her business & writing skills which serve her well today. It was also during this time she & her husband built their home.

In 1988, Irene left her post as President of the Confectionery Manufacturers Association of Canada, and returned once again to the world of interior design opening That Country Place in Orillia, Ontario, with her husband and partner Bill Turnbull, which ultimately evolved to the well-known custom interior design house, Turnbull Interiors, where their collective talents found a natural coexistence.

It’s easy to see the fashion influence and knowledge of fabrics and their use in Irene’s drapery, upholstery and home furnishings designs. Her ability to convey her attention to detail to the workrooms is obvious. Put this together with her understanding of the building sector and it makes for an unusual interior design package. However, Irene believes that the really unique gift she brings to her clients lies beyond the obvious.

Looking back Irene recalls, "Something was awakening within me during my last years at CMAC. It was the end of the eighties and like so many women my age, I was beginning to question a great deal about my life. Somewhere deep within me I knew there was just so much more to everything. Now, I realize that this was the beginning of twenty-seven years of personal growth and discovery that would change my life forever”, Irene reflects.

A self-proclaimed addict for knowledge about our mind-body-soul connection, Irene pursued some of the world’s leading researchers and authorities on the subject. Her dedication and relentless quest to understand how we experience our homes - our relationship with the physical world - how we see and feel and the link between our perceptions and our emotional satisfaction has resulted in her leading edge approach to interior design & decorating. This quest for knowledge & understanding remains a part of Irene’s continuing commitment to excellence for her clients.

It became evident to Irene early in her career, that decorating decisions were not always easy for people. Often differing opinions caused stress where Irene believed there should be joy. She set out to discover why this was so. Along the way she even earned a diploma in feng shui.

After many years of focused study and practice, she began to understand that most difficulties for people had little to do with the colour of paint, or the furniture in the room, but rather, it was all about how we relate to our choices.

Irene clearly understands that we have an emotional connection to our homes and it is this link that ultimately influences whether we feel good in our space or not. Her passion for bringing this "feel good" result to her clients has earned her an enviable reputation as a true leader in her profession.

Irene's commitment to maintaining the integrity and professionalism of the interior design/decorating industry is highly visible as she continues to lead by example.

She served on the Board of Directors CDECA (Canadian Decorators Association) from 2004 to 2009, and was honoured by CDECA Members for her outstanding service as Chairman from 2006 to 2008. She’s a member of both the Georgian College Advisory Committees for the Interior Decorating Program and the Kitchen & Bath Program and continues to mentor new entrants to the profession.

Irene believes good design is about the people who live in the space, not about the designer. It’s about understanding needs and desires and helping homeowners to express their best feelings in a way that brings harmony to their homes to be enjoyed by all who share it.

Recognition of her creative talents has earned her several awards including two CDECA (Canadian Decorators Association) national Professional Decorating & Design Awards of which she is particularly proud.

She openly shares her knowledge through her books, and many published articles, newsletters and blogs, and regularly posts recommended reading and reference resources on her website.


Irene with Dr. Deepak Chopra
@ The Chopra Centre – 1999

Irene with Dr. Bruce Lipton
Toronto, 2012

Irene with Louise Hay
Toronto 2012

Irene with Brian Tracy L.A.
California 2008

Irene With Dr. Barbara DeAngelis L.A.
California 2008

Irene with Mark Victor Hansen L. A.
California - 2008

Testimonials
  • " In November 2015, I moved from a large house in Toronto to a small bungalow in Barrie. Despite my best efforts at downsizing, I found myself with too much furniture, greatly-reduced room sizes and odd... "

    5 Stars
    Carol Campbell, Barrie

  • " Irene helped me to determine my style by listening to my wants and dislikes and being so patient by bringing many samples of fabric to determine the type and colour of fabric until we got it right for... "

    5 Stars
    Ruth Holohan, Lagoon City Ontario

  • " We have been enjoying the professionalism and delivery of excellent service by Turnbull Interiors in the renovation of our homes since 1995. Irene and Bill Turnbull provided within our budget, a turnk... "

    5 Stars
    Gaby Thom, Toronto, Lagoon City, Ontario

  • " My husband and I wanted to update our home for at least 2 years but could not make decisions what would make the most impact. We felt overwhelmed and busy with work and kids always led to more time pa... "

    5 Stars
    Kelly H., Orillia