“I knew in middle school that I would become an interior designer. At a young age, I was sketching ideas for fashion, furniture and constantly rearranging my room,” says interior designer Leslie Cotter Dorazil of Leslie Cotter Interiors. “The only other avenue along the way that piqued my interest was psychology, and I now know how intertwined the two fields are!”
These days the residential and commercial designer spends her days getting into the minds of her clients to understand their functional needs and discover their personal style, so that she can create beautiful spaces that capture her clients’ lifestyle and personality. She marries timeless elegance with a modern aesthetic for classic designs that can grow with her clients. We sat down and asked Leslie to describe her design approach, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of her stunning portfolio. We hope you enjoy!
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
The most interesting spaces to me are rooms that cross over style genres and combine unexpected elements. My personal style is rooted in timeless elegance, with a nod to current fashions, integrating modern amenities. Design should enhance functionality, but also reflect personality in a way that’s unique to each client — and bring JOY! It’s so satisfying to deliver a space that captures exactly what the client is after.
Design is a constant evolution; it’s so important to me that trends are thoughtfully inserted. Classic design is about an enduring foundation with room to grow.
Tell us a bit about your background in design.
I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Design. I immediately started working for a small design firm on projects with many large local and national healthcare systems.
I left in 2013 to start my own business. I wanted to focus on residential design and select commercial jobs. It’s really rewarding for me to work with an individual or family to capture their essence in a design that’s tailored specifically to them.
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment, and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
This engineered countertop material has found a solution to the worry of porous natural stones. There are a lot of options now that realistically replicate marble and alleviate the worry of etching and staining.
“Brass is back,” said everyone in 2016. While brass has its place, layering varied tones and finishes of metals is a more livable application.
People are shying away from the cool gray tones that took over the past few years in favor of creamy whites and warmer neutrals.
There’s something about the texture of velvet that has its place in every room. Changing the color palette can really transform the statement.
Yes, I know I just advocated for quartz, but it’s hard to beat the real deal. Marble is an excellent choice for furniture, fireplace surrounds, powder rooms and the careful cook.
Perhaps my favorite element to complement any design is assorted spines of gorgeous books with interesting and personally relevant topics.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why? How did it help you grow as a designer?
There’s not one specific project that I look back on as the most challenging; every job has its obstacles. One of my largest marketing efforts are show homes. It allows me the opportunity to showcase my latest ideas in a tangible way that the public can experience in person. It’s challenging, because the deadlines are firm, and finessing the floor plan, selecting all of the interior and exterior finishes, fixtures and furnishings down to the smallest accessories is very involved. Managing those selections as construction is underway, I must make quick decisions, revisit concepts when materials aren’t available in the timeline we need and make sure everything is complete by the opening date — no exceptions. It’s undoubtedly down to the wire.
In general, I’m constantly honing my process. Looking for ways to become more efficient, anticipating needs and potential issues in advance and delegating where possible.
Do you have a favorite space in the home to design?
It sounds cliché, but honestly, I love them all. Clients entrust me with the creative reign to transform their space. It’s not the room that makes the project exciting; it’s the vision and collective goals.
What brings you the most professional joy?
This career path has introduced to me to so many great people; I’ve formed lasting relationships with many of my clients. I love meeting a new potential client and that moment when you know you just click and we’re going to have a fun journey together as I define the perfect design solutions for them.
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
David Ramage of the Ramage Company — I’ve worked alongside David for years as the interior designer for his contract and spec builds. I’ve learned a lot from his leadership skills and business savvy. I credit his faith in me for my role in the residential design market.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
Rules are meant to be broken. There are many guidelines for proper design, but for every rule, there is an exception.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
Products are continuously improving with new technology to enhance durability and functionality. We’ll definitely see that engineering evolution continue in finish materials, textiles and furnishings — and responsibly sourced materials and solutions and alternatives with sustainability as the forefront of the design.
Even now, I see clients more willing to take design risks — implementing more modern furnishings and blending a combination of old and new. I think that movement will last.
If you could choose one designer to redo your home right now, who would it be?
Jessica Bennett of Alice Lane Home — She effortlessly blends timeless design with endlessly chic and nails it every time.
Hypothetical: You have to choose only three colors to use throughout your home. What are the three colors?
Black, white and emerald green
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Timeless, sophisticated, polished, sleek & luxurious
Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your insights, inspirations and impressively diverse design portfolio. To learn more about Leslie Cotter Interiors, visit lesliecotterinteriors.com.
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