Designer Relies on ‘Done It All’ Experience

by Autumn McGarr

Windsor, ON — For designer Markie Tuckett, starting a business of her own was the natural next step in a career progression that began at another firm, where she started “from the very bottom,” in her words.

“I didn’t actually start out designing – it was at least a year until I actually started doing some design work,” she explains. “So, I was doing everything within the business, like delivery management, ordering site meetings and measurements, working with trades and instructing them on that level. So, I think I built up my business by just literally having the experience and the background of how to run a business. And then, over the years, I’ve honed my design skill and the overall look that I offer clients.”

Tuckett, who was named to the NKBA’s 2020 Thirty Under 30 list, founded her own business in 2018, Timber + Plumb, which serves the Windsor-Essex area in Ontario, Canada and offers full-service kitchen and cabinetry design, as well as “à la carte” digital design options for clients outside the service area.

Tuckett jazzed up this walk-in pantry with a custom navy color, paired with a floral patterned tile backsplash and ebonized ambrosia countertops and floating shelves.
Photo: Lively Creative Co.

The view from the bottom

According to Tuckett, her beginnings at the bottom of the ladder in another firm have given her a unique 360-degree view of the design and remodeling process. “I can be totally upfront and honest with every client I have because I know the process front to back,” she explains. “My problem-solving skills now are, I would say, pretty good because I’ve been in so many different scenarios.”

Now that Tuckett has brought an employee of her own on board, she wants to pass on the benefits of her comprehensive bottom-to-top experience. “I always tell my employee, ‘you’re going to start from the bottom. You’re going to do the grunt work, you’re going to start with service orders and organizing deliveries, managing folders and dropping samples off to clients,’” she says. “She’s kind of honed that stuff now, so she’s starting to get into the fun design stuff. So, it’s exciting because that’s how I started.”

Unfussy and timeless

Tuckett’s clients, despite their diversity in design tastes, all share a desire for spaces that will not only improve their quality of life, but that will stand the test of time. For Tuckett, creating designs that will last means keeping things uncomplicated. “Everything I do is pretty much very simple-looking, but in a very appealing way,” she notes. “I’m not into big angles or decorative pieces or anything like that. I always feel like it kind of gets dated, so I try to focus more on simplicity.”

Unfussy, however, does not mean unthoughtful. “I plan my designs around storage mostly,” Tuckett, who specializes in designing and working with custom cabinetry, says. “When I talk to a client, I usually interview them on what kinds of needs they have for storage and I basically try to give them a lifestyle upgrade. So most feedback I get from clients is that when they start cooking in their new kitchen versus their old, it just makes their everyday life easier.”

This storage-first design approach enables Tuckett to work within many different design styles seamlessly. “Some of my projects are mid-century modern, some industrial. I have shabby chic and modern farmhouse clients, I’ve had ultra-modern kitchens. I’m kind of able to cater to everybody.”

Part of a commercial space, this kitchen was built to provide an experience for those who want to learn more about cooking and grilling.
Photo: Lively Creative Co.

Giving back

As a small business owner, Tuckett places great value on supporting other small businesses.

“I try to promote other small businesses in the area and create partnerships [through social media], trying to keep the vibe of ‘shop local, stay local,’” she says. “For example, we support at least six to seven small businesses for every photo shoot, whether that’s flowers or wardrobe, or hair and makeup, or actual photography props. Sometimes we’ll pay stagers to come in… And then every time we post a photo, we tag those businesses back in to try and boost them up. Because with the current climate, with COVID and everything, we’re trying to make up for small businesses having such a loss over the past couple of years.”

In addition to cross-promotion, Tuckett takes her support of small businesses a step further. “I created a grant last year called the ‘Stay Golden’ grant,” she says. “It’s a grant we offer to one small business every year, and this year we’re actually going to be offering it to two. It’s a grant for businesses that are nominated or that apply and have a really good structure for the business, but are just looking for some help. We offer obviously a monetary grant, but then also mentorship.” ▪

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