It was not a straight path that led to my interior design career. However, in retrospect it was pretty obvious that all directions pointed to my design career, it just took me a while to find and own my path.
Having a mom who was a designer and a real estate agent back in the booming 80’s, I grew up in a world that was very house-focused. My mom worked for and was good friends with the famous designer, Tony Duquette. In fact, he was deemed my unofficial “Godfather.” I have many childhood memories from his Los Angeles and Malibu homes, a collection that included being dragged to several late night parties where my young sisters and I ended up falling asleep on a nearby sofa.
After graduating from college with an Art History degree my sights were set on the art field -- possibly as a curator or a specialist at an art auction house. My first job out of college was at the art auction house of Butterfield and Butterfield in San Francisco (now Bonham’s). Although working in that environment was a great continuation of my education, I realized was that what I liked most was seeing how many of the beautiful items - art, antiques, decorative items ended up being placed into homes.
I worked for Williams Sonoma in the Visual Merchandising Department of Pottery Barn where I gained a “hands on” approach to retail furniture floor plan training. I loved the practical side of design, but my heart missed the art and antiques element – I craved those beautiful, one-of-a kind objects that make a home special and personal. The path was taking shape, but I still didn’t see it clearly.
What I did know is that I wanted to live in France (Paris) and I wanted to be close to art and antiques. I took a risk, quit my job and enrolled in the Christie’s Decorative Arts Program in Paris. I fell in love, complete, utter love. When the program ended I was offered a job at the Christie’s office in San Francisco.
Even at Christie’s there was something missing and I felt restless. I remember having dinner with a dear college friend (Stephanie Luedorf) and the conversation turned to our careers. She is a very focused financial advisor - she looked at me and basically said, “Duh, Leslie!” How could I not have seen it?! She urged me to do what I love, to do what perhaps comes so naturally to me that I may not have even seen it as a “career.” She said that although I was a good roommate in college (and post college) the reason why people wanted to be my roommate in the first place was not because of my easy going personality, but because I managed to transform every dump of an apartment into a lovely place. These transformations were so innate for me I didn’t pause to consider them “work.” Well, thank goodness for good friends and brutal honesty!!
I dove in and started working for a designer in San Francisco, taking night courses in interior design through the UC Berkeley program. The designer I worked for had an antique store where I was able to combine my interests. It was after I had my first child that I branched out on my own. Many years, many transformations, many stories and most of all, work that I love found me on this journey. I’m excited to share them with you here and perhaps inspire you to make a few transformations of your own.