Q&A With Kortney Wilson
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Kortney Wilson: I moved from Canada to Nashville 21 years ago to be a country music singer. I had always been an artist but decor and design weren’t even on my radar. I enjoyed and could appreciate a room that was styled but music was everything. My husband, Dave and I bought our first house together and after it flooded, we renovated it. From there, we started flipping houses and I became the designated “designer.” It’s been 15 years since we flipped our first house and after designing over 125 houses for our business, alone, I’m finally getting the handle on my own style. I’ve come a long way and learned to take risks but my start was born out of some frozen pipes and 3 feet of water... A happy mistake!
C: How would you describe your style?
KW: My own style leans a little bit bohemian with a hint of what’s trendy at the moment. I love industrial elements like exposed brick and uncovering raw textures when I can, but I complement that with furniture with very clean lines and lots of color. I love color and I love a good story piece.
C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
KW: I love to travel and when I do, I feel like I can’t stop taking pictures of different color schemes that could work in home design. It’s in the architecture, the food, the displays, and even the landscaping. I’m in awe of how much other cultures use color and it inspires me to take chances. Why not, right?
C: Favorite room in the house?
KW: My favorite room is usually the kitchen because I love the hub of the home. The place where it all happens, BUT I always find myself connected to something unexpected. A little reading nook, a glorified pantry or a master closet designed as a room and not a box. Being in Nashville, I find myself designing a little writer's corner or a She Shed. Basically, I love places that are very purposeful.
C: Design rule you don't subscribe to?
KW: I love using fake plants. Greenery is a must in every room and being a person who travels a lot and has more of a brown thumb, I say, whatever works for ya. I try to at least use the faux plants where the real ones would go so I don’t place them in dark corners, but I say, “Fake it until you learn to keep the real ones alive” - and not everyone has the touch.
C: Recent project that inspired you?
KW: I recently renovated a house in an up-and-coming area of East Nashville where I did all exposed ductwork against a pretty moody palette. I love bright colors I was worried that it would be too dark for the buyers but in the end, I could have sold that house 20 more times. It’s a little outside the box for me to use toasty oranges and forest greens against all of that metal, but the moody restaurant vibe hit a nerve with a lot of people and I can’t wait to take on another project inspired by that one.
C: Favorite texture/pattern/color?
KW: As far as texture, I’m a sucker for exposed brick and slightly distressed wood walls because it adds a warmth to a very, otherwise, clean design. It tells a story and makes the room feel more lived in. I am really into patterns right now and mixing up the scales of patterns is my most favorite thing in design, like a smaller scaled polka dot print on the bed sheets matched with a larger scaled print on the draperies. Wallpapers are back with a twist and so much easier to install and you guessed it, there are a million prints to choose from. It’s a dream for me! I find myself using a lot more green lately. Like an ode to the '90’s greens that are a little deeper and moodier but also pastel greens on cabinetry. It’s a little bit more complicated to achieve cohesiveness with the design, and it’s resulted in a fresh feel.
C: What is “good design” to you?
KW: A good design is a space that is not only thought out and functions well but also represents the person who lives there. Design is an opportunity to tell your own story and create a place that makes you feel happy. At the end of the day, life is hard and it’s nice to come home and feel comforted by the things, the colors and the flow. I’m also a realtor and all too often, this isn’t the case. With a few small changes, I see people fall back in love with their homes and in those moments I wish I could help them change every room in their house to fit their needs and their lifestyle. When that happens, we’ve accomplished a “good design.”
C: Pack your bag! You're moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
KW: I would be hard pressed to find another person who I admire more than Michelle Obama. Just put me in her house. I’ll start with her closet and then work my way through the other rooms. Based on the pictures I’ve seen, it’s much more classic than my own personal taste but I’m sure each piece of art and every antique has a story, and if she’s there to tell me that story, I’m all in!
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
KW: I don’t overthink entertaining. I can appreciate a fancy dinner but I truly just want everyone to enjoy themselves in an environment that says, “BE YOURSELF!” Anything stuffy makes people want to leave early. Lots of food, lots of libations, and a live band in the backyard never hurts. Being in the South, I’ve also learned to love the porch parties. I’m not a food snob but I appreciate good, clean food and Nashville doesn’t disappoint so the expectation at any party in Nashville is to step up the food choices. If pizza is the choice, you’d better get the good stuff!
C: Best advice for DIYers?
KW: Teach me your ways? I love a good DIY but I’m more apt to watch it on YouTube than to do it myself. They typically take longer and cost about the same as it would to just order it online. But where is the fun in that right? All true but if you are thinking a DIY project is going to save you time and money, be sure to do some research before you start the project. If you are all about the experience, DO IT and please record your adventures on Insta stories so we can all laugh alongside you.
C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
KW: Expectations are met when they are understood so be honest with the pro you are working with. Be sure that you are both on the same page about how decisions will be made and the process of which you will make them. Talk about the best way to communicate. The simple stuff will end up making you love or hate the process so work that stuff out on the front end. Also, do your due diligence. Meet with more than one person, get references and check out their work. It’s a lovely thought to take someone’s word for it, but see their work for yourself.
C: What is one design trend are you most excited about this season?
KW: One of the design trends this year that I can really get behind is doing away with most of the upper cabinets in the kitchen and replacing with windows. There are so many options to make lower cabinets functional for items like dishes with custom drawer inserts allowing for a lot more space overhead. In a place that will likely be the hub of the home, it seems like a win to create an opportunity for tons of natural light. Walk-in pantries have become the norm in a kitchen renovation plan and take care of the need for storage (open concept or behind closed doors) but by tucking away the less pretty, it will make room for a more impactful kitchen design. The result will be even cleaner lines, more pendants, busier tile and getting bolder with the wall color and backsplashes because there is less wall to cover with windows replacing the upper cabinetry.
C: How do you take your coffee?
KW: I don’t. I’m a tea and latte drinker, although I have been known to load up a cup of joe with a ton of sugar and milk in a bind.