Once a horse barn, now an interior design workspace,
this versatile structure is bringing a southern family closer together
by bringing this interior designer’s work a little closer to home.
By SCOTTIE DECLUE PhotosBy ROBERTO CALIGARIS
If it takes a special eye to spot a diamond in the rough, then interior designer Leslie Wolfe has twenty-twenty vision – and this time, the diamond was in her own backyard. Leslie, along with help from her team of talented contractors, has transformed a time-worn and dilapidated horse barn at her homestead in LaGrange, Georgia into a charmingly ordered interior design workspace that now houses her design company, Benton Parker Design, and the results are metamorphic to say the least.
The project began as a means for Leslie to spend more time with her husband and three children. “I was desperate to find a solution to balancing time between my family and my very full-time job,” she says. “I contacted Jack Jenkins and got him to look at the potential of the barn, and we decided that it would be easy to convert the horse barn into my design barn.” From there, Jack created a rendering for Leslie, who then took on the role of general contractor, and the project was officially underway.
The design barn sits right behind the main house on the 60-acre property and is roughly 1,500 square feet. The original building, which was constructed in 2008 and abandoned for a brief period, received a ground-up restoration and has been completely modernized as well as outfitted for Leslie’s workspace needs, which include designing and consultations with clients. The barn is a showspace for sure, but it certainly feels occupied and worked in. Case in point: the office, stock room, and hayloft upstairs are littered with design items used by Leslie when she’s working.
The building consists of six main areas: an entryway, a main room, an office, a kitchen, a stockroom, and hayloft-turned-showroom upstairs. The design vocabulary is quite fitting for the charming southern farmhouse feel –reclaimed heartwood pine beams, tongue-and-groove boarding, restored sliding barn door from the original tack room, and even burlap and sailcloth upholstery. A sheer white finish on the walls and ceiling create a stark contrast with the richly finished interior wood designs, and the hand-loomed, vegetable dyed Persian rugs really tie the rooms together. Leslie says that the neutral colors in the barn were designed to be a less-intrusive backdrop so as not to compete with the colors that clients are reviewing.
Leslie often shares the workspace with two other designers – Lindsay Slice and Lindsay Higgins – who work with her on various projects. “They are a huge part of my team, and I am so thankful for them,” she shared.
TOP: The main room is the first space one enters in the barn. It is filled with a large, wooden table made from reclaimed lumber, which is set beneath a no-pane, lantern-esque chandelier. Aidan Gray did the main table, the upholstery for the dining room chairs is from K. Krypton, and the beautiful chandelier is from Curry and Co. Chandeliers who also did light fixtures in other rooms. All throughout the barn are tongue-and-groove pine board walls with nickel gap, which were installed by Rick Britelle who also did the framing and trim work. Additionally, Edwin Madan from LaGrange helped Leslie create the beautiful beams in the main room from reclaimed heartwood pine. The main room has a daybed, which has been upholstered in burlap and sailcloth. A fiddle leaf fig breathes fresh air into the corner of the room, and its forest green color creates nice contrast with the white walls.
RIGHT: Leslie’s office, which is connected to the main room, follows the downstairs themes and has an open feel to it, which comes from the large windows, large doorway, and cutout allowing Leslie to see into the main room from her desk. The cutout was the original opening to the horse stall. The desk was also done by Larry Duquette of Duquette Cabinetry. The chandelier is reclaimed wood from Low Country Originals.
TOP LEFT: The kitchen shoots off of the main room and follows the themes of the downstairs area with similar paint and flooring. The countertop is quartz and is complemented by walnut shelves secured with plumbers pipes for braces. The quartz came from MSI and was fabricated by Mike Jenkins of Took for Granite. The custom kitchen cabinets are by Larry Duquette of Duquette Cabinetry. Appliances came from Daniel Appliance. TOP RIGHT: The stockroom is where Leslie queues up items for her ongoing projects and is connected to the main room downstairs. Instead of a traditional door, Leslie transformed the original door from the old tack room into a sliding door to create the entrance to the stockroom. The concrete floors that run through the office, main room, and stockroom were poured by Dexter Evans of Construction Services of LaGrange, who also did the stone work on the exterior. The concrete downstairs was poured over the original dirt floor, and red clay and sawdust were left in the concrete for a rustic accent. The shelves holding the items are industrial style made from reclaimed wood. RIGHT: This area is where Leslie keeps all of her fabrics and wallpaper samples. Originally, the upstairs area served as the old hayloft. The flooring upstairs, also installed by Rick Britelle, is white-oak, which was hand-distressed. Rusty Frazier handles all of the drapery and shutters for Leslie’s clients, and he carefully crafted rods for all of her hanging samples out of plumbers pipe. ADDITIONALLY, The General lighting throughout the barn is from Visual Comforts, Currey and Company and Low Country Originals; and the exterior copper lanterns are from the St. James Company. Building materials, windows, and doors were all from Valley Fir, and the iron spindles were by Aaron Land of A&D Metal Works.
Leslie Wolfe is married with three kids and lives with her family in LaGrange, Georgia. She is the owner of the interior design company, Benton Parker Design, which was established in 2006. Her mother inspired her to design by taking her to antebellum homes and architecturally stunning locations in Europe as a child. She attended Auburn University and received a Bachelor’s degree in interior design. She strives to embrace the style and taste of her clients and has done so on many occasions throughout her professional career.