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Daily Inspiration: Meet Alida Coury

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alida Coury.

Hi Alida, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started into interior design through growing up under the mentorship of my Mother (Vida Murray of Vida Bartkus Interiors). I would spend time with her as a child going to the Merchandise Mart Design Center in Chicago. It was always something I loved to do as a kid. I remember loving to run through the wings of fabrics and wallpapers. And eating candy on the front desk of the showroom-which I still enjoy… And I found an escape in rearranging my bedroom and parts of our house when the creative bug would hit me when I was in grade school.

Then when I reached college, I started my studies in the Arts and Design program at the University of Champaign Urbana, IL. When they dropped my design program, I was forced to find a new school or I would have to switch my major. So I found a program through Harrington University in Chicago in the historic Fine Arts Building along the Magnificent Mile. At the time, it was ranking in the top 3 of the country for design schools if memory serves me. All my teachers were in the field or had been at some point. It was a great school focused only on Interior Design with an emphasis on Interior Architecture.

After school, I veered off course dabbling in entertainment. Initially, I thought I was going to go to LA to work in set design for greats like Eugenio Zanetti (after seeing What Dreams May Come). It turned out more difficult to find work in film due to the union so I ended up doing acting gigs or extra work for television and then later fell into casting for CBS after meeting a friend at my furniture sales job with Crate and Barrel. It was a fun time in life and I was in my twenties so I had my hand in stirring the creativity pot for many of my passions until I moved back to Chicago with my boyfriend-now husband.

I started to pursue my design work again with my mother, along with some home staging and a side hustle of makeup artistry for Chanel. When my husband could not stand the snow anymore, I transferred my artistry job to The Grove LA and worked for Chanel in Nordstrom. I later fell into home staging again after meeting a woman through a running group who owned Pampa Furniture. I began working for her staging division. It was a crazy journey but I loved creating a home in the various parts of LA for imaginary clients. So they could help these enormous and beautiful homes sell faster. It was so gratifying for the moment. Then later, my calling came harder to me.

My husband and I had just got married in Mexico with a very intimate group of our families and our closest friends. My dream to nest and have a home and child really kicked in through that too. So we moved back to the Chicago suburbs this time. I started my side gig again for Chanel to give me financial stability and then worked for my Mom’s design firm. Eventually, my Mom was interested in slowing down her design business and my parents thought it was time I started my own business. So we bought a home and I eventually went full time into designing homes on my own under Alida Coury Interiors with my office in my house. It was a real grind and a 24 hour/7 day a week haul. I would say my referrals have always kept me more than busy. I am so lucky for that, but it was always and still is really hard work.

And then when covid hit, I was not interested in staying with friends when I had to go to my jobs in CA. So I ended up renting a unit in Costa Mesa for my satellite office. It was more cost-effective than a hotel and made the jump back here a no brainer. I think I might have been too scared to make the move otherwise- being that I am older and have a family now. Doing those moves were easy when we were just a young couple with no strings attached. But now having my family in CA, it seemed more daunting to make the move… But being here, it really feels like I’m back in full swing… Although I do still have my main office in my house in Downers Grove, IL that I do have to go back and forth to for my midwest clients. But I have been most enjoying the expansion of work in CA because I have always in my heart felt at home here. I mean when there is traffic, I seriously am fine as long as I see palm trees and sunshine.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I would say this business in not for those who lack self-discipline. It requires a lot of boundaries, balance, psychology, and a HUGE amount of customer service. It is a ton of work! But if you love what you do, it will drive you to succeed. I encourage anyone who is hitting a tough time to try to keep their head up and keep going. There was one point where I was staging, working for Chanel, and doing interior design and my husband was working for Direct TV 7 days a week. We were on food stamps and struggling to pay our bills. It was frustrating to never seem to have enough to cover our modest home with a household of one child. But it made us that much stronger to come out the other side of that -as embarrassed as we were going through it. Standing in line in Jewel with a food stamp check is the most humbling thing I have been through. And is why I continue to work harder now. So that I hope to not have to experience that judgment again from those in line with me. It is also why I choose to give back through donating my time and/or funds to organizations that help those in the same position I had been in or others that are going through worse situations.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
My company is a smaller interior design studio curating for each client and how they function in a space. I find most inspiration through continuing to channel different design facets. Because each design client has separate preferences, needs, and styles that are personal to each project, I like that it creates a unique end result. I do mostly residential and some commercial work. Using things that have meaning to the client are usually what separates a look from other projects and that makes it speak to those that use the space. I have work spaces in California and Illinois and often work out of state when requested.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I think my intense passion for my work and that I truly care about my projects and clients are what continue my success. But an even larger scope than that, I do realize I can not do this on my own. It’s the many teams around me of contractors, showrooms, workrooms, design assistants, vendors, architects, fabricators, photographers, plant stylists, artists, and millworkers that help me to create the final outcome. That is the only way all the magic happens is together.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Aimee Mazzenga for the home with black and white tile photos, the white cabinets with lamp and green bottle, bathroom, the leather chairs facing each other and the bedroom shot… the other photo of dining and outdoor of highrise is by Regan Wood Photography.

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