Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Atlanta Profile: Pieces

Pieces is one of those shops you continually see appearing in standout press and hear name dropped on blogs. It was no surprise that I immediately fell in love with the store on my first visit, but it was a surprise just how much Pieces made an impact on my design sense. I have always been a proponent of color, but the intensity at which Lee Kleinhelter mixes hues and sheens is inspiring, to say the least.

Lee has a great eye for refinishing, reupholstering and reviving unique vintage finds. Her fabrics are always top-notch and feature thoughtout details such as contrast piping, tufting, and luxe textures. You can find a bit of everything in her shop from Hollywood Regency and Art Deco to Mid-Century Modern.

I was thrilled to pieces [couldn’t help myself…] when the darling Lee agreed to let me profile her. And if like me you find something in her shop that you can’t live without, hurry because Pieces is having a holiday event through December 22nd. 15% off all furniture, lighting, wall d├ęcor and pillows!

How would you describe your signature style?
I think my style is a very clean and refined approach with a bold statement. The store gives people the exposure to vintage pieces that are updated and unique accessories to fill their home. Our style is chic and simple.

What do you think will be the next big trend for interiors?
I'm not really into trends. I think you can be bold and daring without it being a trend. Look at David Hicks!

What color are you most driven to at this time?
This has been a big year for yellow in the store. It can be used as a perfect neutral. It looks amazing paired with browns, plums, taupe…it’s so easy!

How often do you shop for new furniture?
I am always shopping for new pieces! I don't buy just to buy; I make sure I'm always buying pieces that are unique, not necessarily because we need them on the floor right then. The turn around can be so long before I actually get it on the floor that its always safe to buy something that you know will be a good fit and has a special quality. That way it can blend into the store’s mix at any time.

Do you have a hard time letting go of pieces that may have undergone a rags-to-riches renovation? Do you become emotionally invested in your remodeled furniture?
The process of buying and renovating is so labor intensive. You watch it go from a sad state to piece that has life again, and I am connected to all of them. They are all very special to me!

What's your favorite source for inspiration?
I am always inspired by traveling, seeing other great interiors, spaces and hotels. I especially love bathroom designs in hotels and restaurants. Magazines are also a great source. I love Vogue Living and international magazines, not always based on interiors. Really the small things in life that you come across can inspire you. It’s not always the obvious.

Do you have any trade secrets?
I think sometimes customers try too hard to plan their spaces. I think that it’s always best to keep things simple and add layers as you go. Let the furniture be unique and speak for itself. I don't think you need to have a lot of pattern to make a room interesting.

What are your greatest influences at this moment?
Vintage books, fashion, seasons, really it can be anything. I love color and am always inspired to use it in different ways. I get excited over the smallest things, new ads or paper products. I really get excited about new stationary designs and patterns.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being both a business owner and designer?
For me, the design aspect of the store is second nature, it comes easy and obviously the part that is motivating. Learning how to be a good business owner and paying attention to the side of the business you don't always enjoy is the challenging part. You always hope what you are doing is what people will respond to and appreciate, but really in the end you need to provide customers with what they need and find the balance. I LOVE selling a piece that someone is really excited about, that I know will be in the right place and with someone who understands it as much as I do.

Where do you see your company 5 years from now?
I see Pieces always being a high-end boutique that provides customers with unique items. I see us having more exposure than we do now and helping designers and the general public all over the world.

What other interests do you have?
My husband is a contractor and we have enjoyed building. It can be overwhelming, but at the same time it will be a major part of our life. We just moved into a house we had worked on for a year and it was a huge undertaking. It was a great way for me to pull everything together that I've learned from design school up to today.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I spent most of my childhood being a competitive ice skater! I know, it sounds odd, but from age 4-16 it was my life. I think it has a lot to do with the Type A drive and determination. It’s a very focused sport.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Definitely making Pieces a successful business, it's a very hard niche. It’s easy for me to know this is what I want to do, but it’s a whole other undertaking to make it happen.

Favorite places in Atlanta to shop, eat, etc...?
I love to shop and eat, especially around fantastic decor! As far as specific spots, I love to shop all over really. If I’m in need of a shoe fix, I go to Bob Ellis. If I need a little bit of everything, I'm usually at Neimans or Saks. I also love Tory. The Globe is one of my favorite restaurants, its easy and always great…with the best mojitos!

[Above images of my Pieces purchases: Lucite desk, Woven Fiberglass Chairs and Rustic Wine Crate.]


Pink Wallpaper said...

wonderful interview...i cannot believe i haven't been to pieces before being from time i am home, its my first stop.

erika said...

Courtney! LOVE this interview. It's times like these (well everyday when I read your blog) that I really find it hard to wrap my brain around your "day job". Why don't you start a design biz? I'd hire you! :)