Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Always moving forward, with spirit

Though Leslie Lewart’s original training and work was as a social worker, her creativity and love for antiques and history led her to a calling in the design world. For almost 20 years, Leslie has been designing, decorating and creating beautiful spaces.

Leslie operated Rugs to Riches, a unique retail design business in Ellicott City, Maryland for over 15 years. After its closing in 2005, she began offering her design services privately to her clients. Post Rugs to Riches, Lewart designed and helped open The Well, a community space for Yoga and the Healing Arts in Ellicott City, MD.

More about the Well. The Well quickly became a local institution with classes in yoga, dance, aromatherapy and massage therapy--in fact, a list too long to chronicle here. Leslie, Lance Isakov, and Amy Meilman were at its emotional center throughout, always there to greet newcomers and old-timers alike. Kate St. John's smiling face sticks in my memory! The Well’s spacious, colorful entry room (with a gift shop) and beautiful studio space behind it were vintage Leslie Lewart.

Coupled with a talented staff, The Well was always a friendly, peaceful and stimulating place to go; its look and feel was unlike any other studio that I have experienced—anywhere.

How we all wish the good times could continue, but people move on, things change—in this case, a depressed economy coupled with an expensive old building to maintain. Now, The Well building is empty again, awaiting new life and...Leslie has quickly transformed her energies into an exciting new educational offering to be held in her beautiful Oella home on the hill, "Leslie Lewart Design Workshops."

I asked Leslie where her design inspiration comes from. She thought awhile, then said, “It comes from unexpected places--by something in Nature, or a color, a grouping of objects…In my own home, for instance, I created a certain energy and peacefulness using contrasts, such as rough historic stone and soft velvet.” She walked me into her living room to show me how colors and textures formed an integrated wholeness visually. I wanted to sit down and stay.

Of course, working with a client to achieve an articulated goal for an interior space is always the goal. Leslie added, “It is always function first. Then, I ask the client ‘How do you want to feel in this space—what is the energy you want to feel?” The client sometimes knows right away and other times has to think about it before proceeding. For Jordan's, a popular restaurant on Main Street, the owner wanted the interior to look like the "Moulin Rouge." Done!

At Leslie's Home. Upon climbing the welcoming stairs above her garden, you will reach a new height because Leslie puts her heart into everything she does. At the core of her teaching is this notion: “You want to understand yourself first before you can design for others.”

When: Sat, January 31, 2009, 10am – 4pm
Where: 775 Hollow Rd Ellicott City, MD 21043

'Leslie shares her over 20 years of design experience through interactive, hands-on workshops. All workshops are given in her Oella home. They are fun, comfortable and informative. No experience is necessary, only your passion is required!'

Uncover the design diva within you through a hands on approach to teaching design. We will be using magazine photos, fabric swatches, paint chips and anything else in my design studio to create your own personal style boards. You will gain a sense of what visually excites you or repels you. Through this exercise and the discussion it provokes, you will begin to understand what influences your style and how to avoid the pitfalls that keep you from moving forward. (It also minimizes the costly mistakes.) An understanding of your likes and dislikes is key to unlocking the secrets of your personal style. I will share with you the many design shortcuts and ideas I have gathered through my own design experience. It will definitely include working within small budgets as well as large. what to bring with you: 2 magazine photos of rooms you love; 2 of rooms that you dislike; your passion! Cost: $95.00 (includes lunch)

Leslie's work has been featured in numerous magazines and National TV.

Columbia Magazine: One Woman's Garden
Baltimore Magazine: Pretty in PInk
STYLE Magazine: Bohemian Rhapsody
The Washington Post: An Old Stone Cottage, A Place to Start Fresh
Howard County Times - Fall Home & Garden: Cottage Style
HGTV: What You Get For The Money, 2006


Blog feature by Kay D. Weeks
Photos by Lance Isakov and Kay Weeks
Jordan's photo by Jeremy Kipp Clark

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