Next up on Bathroom Diaries is Jen Leonard, a designer out of the Washington, DC / Alexandria, VA area and a member of our Interior Design Program! After an unfortunate drain issue forced her to redo her downstairs powder room, a pair of beautiful custom Weezie hand towels found a new home. We loved learning more about Jen and her design background in this episode of Bathroom Diaries. Thanks Jen! Find Jen Leonard on Instagram: @jenleonardinteriors and online: www.jenleonard.design.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up in Upper Saddle River, NJ, a suburb of New York City. I couldn’t wait to move to Manhattan after college. I love the energy and inspiration of living in a metropolitan area. After NYC, I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and now live in a charming, historical city outside of Washington DC - Old Town Alexandria, VA. Living in urban areas feeds my love of art and innovation.
How did you get started in the interior design industry? Being an Interior Designer is quite the switch from working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Can you tell us more about the change?
Yes, interior decorating is my Second Act. I retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation after a 21-year career as a Special Agent. I loved working for the FBI and looked forward to going to work every day. When I retired, I knew my second career had to be something that also inspired and energized me – albeit in a different way. I was always interested in design and when I was in the FBI, I spent my free time exploring the local design centers, museums and taking design and art classes. When I retired, I went back to school for a certification in interior decorating and worked for a brilliant designer, @shazalynn_cavin_winfrey. I started my own firm two years ago. I feel lucky to have had two careers that I love!
Can you tell us about this beautiful pink powder room?
This bathroom is in my own home, a row house in Old Town Alexandria, VA. We had some serious water damage to our downstairs and ended up having to rip out the walls of the powder room. I decided it was a good excuse to brighten up the windowless space. I have loved this David Hicks wallpaper from Clarence House for years and my husband actually selected it from a handful of options I presented to him. I was thrilled! #lemonadeoutoflemons
What led you to select a pink wallpaper for this space?
I love color. Many of my clients tell me they want to work with me because they want to add color to their own homes but need help doing it. Pink is a favorite color of mine and when I present it to clients, I find most are drawn to it whether it is an accent piece or the centerpiece of a space. Pink exudes happiness. Who doesn’t want that in their own home!
Where should we start when decorating a powder room?
Powder rooms are a great space to go bold and show off your personal style. If I know we are going to use wallpaper - which I love in a powder room- I always start there and then build the design around it. The color and style of the wallpaper dictates the tile, mirror, and lighting. I similarly frequently start other rooms with a textile and build from there.
Favorite Coffee Table Book:
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one! (My coffee table is stacked.) The Well Adorned Home by Cathy Kincaid and Beautiful by Mark D. Sikes are two of my favorites. Both designers are sublime in their ability to layer patterns, colors and details. I find a new detail every time I look at their spaces. Amazing!
Favorite Hostess Must Haves:
Linen cocktail napkins! They make the world a better place. Handing a guest a cocktail with a lovely cloth napkin elevates the moment and lets the guest know they are special. They are also one of my favorite hostess gifts to give. I love the selection at Goldfinch in my hometown of Old Town Alexandria or the online selection from both Courtland and Co (Savannah) and Pomegranate Inc (Lexington, KY). I have also found some lovely ones at estate sales. I’m obsessed!
I always have a scented candle burning in my home and office. I love Nest candles and I’m currently hooked on Lemongrass & Ginger. I think a lovely fragrance in your home is another design element to enhance the comfort and happiness of a space. The sense of smell has long been tied to memory. I can’t pass lilac or honeysuckle without being transported to my grandmother’s backyard. Why not add a signature fragrance to your home and create a sensory memory for your family and guests?
I’ve logged a lot of hours and steps in NY and DC’s famous museums – always leaving inspired. When I travel, I love to seek out the smaller local museums. I have discovered some wonderful ones this past year to include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA which has an incredible, edited permanent collection and hosts wonderful exhibits; the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, ME - go if only for the spectacular cliff-side ocean views; and the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL. It is a Renaissance-style palace with gorgeous art and courtyards. And did I mention it is pink!
Favorite Brands to Follow on IG:
@weezietowels (of course!)
@schumacher1889 (fabulous textiles and interiors)
@quarillefabrics (gorgeous and colorful)
Favorite Designers to Follow on IG:
There is so much inspiration out there but some favorites:
Recent Interior Design Splurge:
Arteriors Celerie Kemble Terrace Lamp: Whimsical handwoven rattan by Celerie Kemble – need I say more?
Recent Interior Design Steal:
I picked up a charming antique Georgian-style ball and claw foot bench at an estate sale for $30. I freshened it with a cheery Elizabeth Eakins pink print and placed it in front of the fireplace for extra seating and a pop of color in my living room. Older pieces of furniture add soul, warmth, and personality to a space. I love updating and finding a place for a client’s inherited furniture in a new design scheme.
Light Fixture: Alexa Hampton Frank Small Flush Mount from Circa Lighting -
Toilette Door Sign: Purchased in Italy many years ago....
Weezie - White Piped Hand Towels with ‘guest’ in River in Coral