I welcome Sharonne Turen into my spacious penthouse, hoping she won’t notice the paint coming off the walls or the desperate need for curtains by the windows at the entrance.
She’s a peaceful sight and is a mix of pleasant colors; her blonde hair, her easy but cool elegance, and perfect smile make me like her instantly.
Turen is an interior designer and more. With the real estate market in Israel increasing the last two years from 10 to 16%, depending on the area, she is busy assisting clients. Her phone keeps beeping with incoming messages, attesting to her flourishing business.
“It’s a problem,” she says. “Corona has brought an insane increase in prices, everyone wants a piece of this country. They want to own something and call it home. Corona has probably awakened the real love deep in the soul of so many Jews who used to take coming to Israel for granted, and were suddenly forbidden entry.
“The prices per meter of houses and apartments in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem, have gotten out of control,” she says. “Tel Aviv is the new Manhattan. What you pay here for a mediocre-size apartment you can get a mansion in Monsey, but who cares about the rest of the world? Everyone wants to be here, or at least twice a year for the holidays.
“This phenomenon creates two interesting situations. First, there are areas in Jerusalem that look lived-in only twice a year, on Sukkot and Passover. Second, demand and supply in Israel don’t match. The demand is higher, causing prices to increase a lot,” she says.
Prices aren’t the only thing that has changed over the years. “When I started out here 13 years ago, when I made aliyah, I would go to a tile store and there were a few items to choose from. Now there’s everything here that you desire to create a stunning home.”
Turen loves perfection. There’s no other way with her – either you do things the way she wants them done, or it won’t work. She is the master planner and designer.
“Most of my clients are not here, so I need to take over in all areas – including project management, billing, and trust,” she says. “My work is known by word of mouth, and that is the best business card I can wish for. Every client of mine becomes my project, and I put in heart and soul. They need to trust me, and I need to build their trust in me.”
That’s why Turen in the long run becomes not only their architect/interior designer, but also their psychologist, marriage counselor, spiritual adviser, and more.
“I always knew since I was a child that one day I would do something that made people happy,” she says.
What could make you happier than coming to Israel and seeing the house of your dreams ready and keys handed over to you by Turen, who in the meantime has also become your best friend even though you are probably seeing her for the first time the moment you turn the keys in the front door?
“I love nature and its colors and textures. There is so much to choose from, the sand, the sea, the trees. It’s all that God has given us and we should use it in our house to immerse ourselves in it.”
AS MUCH as Turen appears artistic, she also has a very sharp business mind and a serious knowledge of real estate. There’s a lot of know-how needed in building, piping, lighting, design, architecture and location.
Turen, who has a degree in interior design, also received an MBA with a concentration in marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business. She majored in psychology in college, and even though it all may seem so disconnected, it is now so important in her career.
It is hard work.
“Listen to your client’s taste, dreams and budget. You need to make it come together while maintaining your signature and style,” she explains. “Once we agree on the layout and design, I start planning with my team to bring your dreams to fruition. Every project is an adventure.”
Turen has shown her own side of extra caring. Once, she designed solutions for a synagogue pro bono to enable handicapped members easy access to the bimah so that they could get an aliyah.
I wonder when she has time for all this. Married to Tzachi, they have five children together, ranging in age from a nine-year-old to a 21-year-old son serving in the IDF.
Turen’s family story is something to be proud of. Her maternal grandparents, David and Denise Hirschfeld, made aliyah in 1955, and started working and creating businesses out of pure love for the land. From Manhattan, they moved to Pardess Hanna and eventually to Netanya.
“I used to come as often as I could as a child and spend time here with them,” she says. Israel is in her blood, and even though her accent is still very American her soul is Israeli. Her family laid their roots here a long time before it was fashionable or easy.
“My parents, Philip and Donna, also moved here 30 years ago with my six siblings, while I stayed in America to finish my studies,” she recalls. “My paternal grandparents, Charles and Els Bendheim, were founders and lay leaders of many Israeli organizations, like Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the Jerusalem College of Technology, the Jewish Institute for the Blind, the Horev school and the American Friends of Yad Sarah, to name a few.”
Clearly, their love and passion for the land were passed down to the new generations. Turen is busy making dreams a reality for hundreds of Jews in the Diaspora who buy property here, and trust her to turn their house into a work of perfection.
TUREN GETS to the core of a person in a very gentle way. She will work with your colors and use them as the base for the colors of your house. She will understand where to put more natural light according to your character. She will understand your nature and translate it into the walls of your bedroom. She will grasp the dynamics of your family and design the perfect kitchen to suit your needs.
“From every project I complete, there is always something to learn from,” she says. “I see the way a husband relates to his wife, how he tries to please her. I see children respecting their parents. I understand who makes the decisions in the family and who follows quietly.
“I learn from it all. The good and the less good, so I know what not to do or how not to behave. It is always fascinating to get to know people and their dynamics.”
Are her services expensive? She opens her eyes widely to my direct question. “I might come across as a little expensive, but when you start working with me, you realize that my work goes far beyond just designing your house; it becomes a long collaboration,” she says. “Ultimately, you realize that by using my service you end up saving yourself from a lot of costly errors, aggravations and big headaches.
“I face all the problems and find solutions while my client is not even here, and I will not stop until my client is completely satisfied.”
It said that when the messiah comes, all of Jerusalem will be the beit hamikdash, the whole of Israel will be Jerusalem, and the whole world will be the Land of Israel.
Turen smiles. “That will make me a super-busy person I guess.”
I’m sure she can handle it.