The moment Leslie Biggley steps into a room, she starts to envision new possibilities. “Design is my passion,” says Biggley. “I can’t help it.” The art teacher with a background in English Literature is also a gifted interior designer and creator of The Leslie Style. Inspired by the art she teaches, design magazines, and Instagram, ideas also come from her imagination. Her dreams, in fact. “I dream about design and whatever I'm working on every night. I'm a really vivid dreamer,” she says.
Biggley and her husband, Matt, have renovated five of their homes in six years, and she has earned the “radical renovator” label for good reason. With their last house, for example, they removed the entire roof. Every design project, for her, has been about re-inventing the space. “Sometimes we put the kitchen in the dining room, or the dining room in the porch. The bathroom has gone in the kitchen,” she says. Her design is about vision. It’s about rethinking a home by turning the place on its head. And like many artists, Biggley is willing to go through anything to get to the end. Like the time they had to temporarily move in with her parents while the renovations were completed.
Blending, Sparkle, Light
If there is one thing consistent about Biggley’s design, it’s the blending of two contrasting styles. It’s more common to see designers stick to one style: ultra modern, traditional, or minimalist, but Biggley prefers to mix it up. Her designs are airy, modern, and feminine. She chooses pieces with plenty of detail and appreciates ornate designs, curves, and scalloped edges. She will contrast embellishment and colour against clean, modern lines, and will juxtapose a rustic look with something glamorous. Biggley is also drawn to bright spaces, especially bathrooms. “The most beautiful bathrooms have a sparkle to them. The ones that work are the ones that are bright and clean,” she says. While she gets inspiration from photos of existing designs, she enjoys trying things she has never seen before.
How A Dream Becomes Reality
“Every home has a feeling that leads to a style,” Biggley says. Her process begins with getting a sense of the style and layout of a space. First, she’ll picture the focal points like the tile, wallpaper, and light fixtures. Then she’ll have consult with trusted tradespeople about the best plan of action. Every one of their projects has had a different timeline, but on average each renovation has taken about a year to complete, and her project management skills have improved over time. (No more living with the parents!) Next, shopping. Biggley hunts around to see what she can find to match her vision. Sale items are always a bonus and salvaged pieces, even better. Finally, the physical work begins. Each room is reconstructed, then new plumbing is installed, followed by wiring, drywall, tiling, cabinets, and furnishings.
To unload the many ideas rolling around in her head, Biggley started to create mood boards of her designs. The collages helped her, and her collaborators, to visualize the look and feel of the inventory in her mind. “The new bathroom in our current house is a mood board brought to life.”
The Right Partner
Biggley and her husband work as a team, but he leaves all the design questions (and answers) up to her. And he hasn’t been let down. Biggley has learned that finding the right partner is not only important in a marriage, but also in a design project.
Delta® was the first brand Biggley ever approached. “They took a chance on me and it ended up being the most important connection I ever made,” she says. She was drawn to them because they reflect her style and offer products that complement her work. “There’s not just one way to look when you use Delta products, anyone can find inspiration,” she says. Plus, much like herself, “They have a true love for design.” Once she had established that relationship, it was easier to get other partners on board.
Keeping the Passion Alive
Biggley surrounds herself with things and people she loves. Since she has had children, the biggest change she has noticed in her design has been through colour. She used to have a taste for a more neutral palette, but now leans toward bold colour and patterns.
With a full time family and a full time job, design is still Biggley’s passion, and she makes time for what she wants. “I used to purposely go to sleep in grad school to figure out my thesis topic and now I'm always dreaming about design projects.”
Take a look at PART TWO of The Leslie Style series: Leslie's Airy, Modern, Feminine Bathroom Reno
To see what she’s been dreaming about lately, check out The Leslie Style.