Leslie Newton-Thompson from Carriage House Interiors speaks in quotes, so whenever we are profiling one of her homes or spaces, we are sure to keep a notebook and pen nearby, because her words are all intentional. Behind this quiet, calm demeanor is a woman whose mind is constantly at work, always thinking and creating spaces in her mind. True to her personality, her design aesthetic is very layered and intentional. She is a detail person, and you can always spot her work in the colors, textures, fixtures and materials she uses. Whether it be a doorknob, a special light fixture or an intricate tile design, Leslie leaves her calling card. You will definitely take a second and third look at her work, as we did at the most recent Homearama in Norton Commons. Her designs are simple but inherently very complex. This complexity originates from the story behind the space. Before she starts each project, she likes to know the story of the person that will live in that room. From there, she designs a space where that person can thrive.
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client and his/her space?
After 20 years (it’s an anniversary for me) of working in this business, I have a deep love for just about every design genre, so to say I have just one design aesthetic that I work from would be misleading. Every client and every project has its own story to tell.
Is there one design element that you use over and over again in some type of capacity? Why?
Yep. Linen, leather and velvet … or some form of it. They are the best building blocks of texture.
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
I’m loving the boho vibe right now. I love how it can be added to just about any decor. It’s so visually interesting and playful. As far as what I cling to…linen, leather and velvet (or some form of it). It’s everything. It can be as complex as you need it to be or as simple as you want it to be.
Where do you get your design inspiration?
Inspiration is found in everything. Other than someone’s actual home/project, it could be the season, a song, someone’s personality, my mood, a piece of fabric or just general randomness. When I’m diving into a project, I really look at that person to draw out their story. People are very interesting and everyone has a story to tell. I love jumping in and learning about who they are and what brought them to this moment, to start this project.
What brings you the most professional joy?
Other than linen, leather and velvet? LOL … getting to tell someone’s story. It’s a great privilege to be invited into someone’s home to help them create a place where they will live their life.
Are people starting to embrace color again, or is the movement still strong with a canvas of white?
To those of us who work outside of trend, color never really went away. We just use it differently than say five or ten years ago. Instead of saturated wall color it may be a bold rug or art piece. I think we have reached this awesome place in design where there are no more rules, just a rule of thumb. Anything goes. White walls or black walls, both are being embraced.
What’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of interior design (from those outside the industry)?
It’s NOT all about color. It’s about finding the story and collecting the puzzle pieces. Too often we are hung up on the matching game and fail to see the big picture. Texture is everything and it often gets overlooked. It’s all about finding the relationship between textiles and hard surfaces and if color is a part of it … then so be it.
Would you share one designer secret with SB readers?
Matching is for amateurs. I don’t mean to sound like a pretentious designer (because I’m not) but that is the secret to design. It’s not about matching, it’s about the story!
Who have been your industry mentors/role models (your personal interior designer crushes!) and why?
I’ve been very blessed. I’ve gotten to work with some pretty cool people that have shaped who I am as a designer. If I had to single out just one that has influenced me the most I would have to say Ralph Lauren. That’s probably a bit cliché because who hasn’t been influenced by Ralph Lauren.
My introduction into the design world began as a visual merchandiser in a department store. That’s where I learned about using textiles as a tool to tell a story … and RL can tell a story! Till this day I get emotional when a new collection comes out.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
That’s a hard question. There are some projects that you can do with your eyes closed and then there are other projects that requires a lot more out of you creatively. I like those projects. However, when a client says “do whatever you want” I cringe. You would think that would be a dream project but I’ve trained myself to tell your story, not mine.
Thank you to Leslie Newton-Thompson for taking time to tell us her story and where she gets her inspiration.
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