By: Sara Williams
Joey Leicht was named as one of the “Designers to Watch” by Chicago’s Merchandise Mart Design Center in 2014. His impressive portfolio of stunning Chicagoland projects garnered him a coveted invitation to transform a Lake Forest Showhouse room in 2015. And his astute fashion sense and artistic eye are evident in his work. I was excited to sit down with this fresh face on the design scene:
How would you describe your style? Where do you find inspiration?
Clean and sophisticated. I don’t have a formula, but everything I do has a fashion influence. I often look to the runways, to fashion icons and in domestic and international fashion mags for inspiration. The pages of magazines like Luxe Interiors + Design and Modern Luxury, and beautifully curated sites like DeringHall.com also help me stay ahead of the game. The Maison Objet show is a perennial favorite for keeping tabs on what’s happening in everything from furniture to accessories. I really feed off of what other designers have to say and recently had dinner with designer Jean-Louis Deniot which was just amazing! Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Pop-Up store in Chicago was a fun venue for finding inspiration, too.
You create many beautiful large spaces. How do you work with smaller spaces?
Usually in small spaces, I’m more daring with pattern and color. I will put wallpaper on the walls and the ceiling to create that jewel box feeling. It makes for a real ‘put together’ look and makes it feel like a bigger room. And, the washroom doesn’t have to match the rest of the house. You almost want it to be a little over the top, especially the powder room because everyone sees that. Same for the foyer, it’s the first and last impression people get in the home.
What colors do you find are most important in your projects?
Colors that have been – and always will be – in style like gray, beige and the newer interpretation of those: a ‘minky’ tone that combines the best of gray and beige. I like to call it ‘gray-ge’ in one softer, gentler tone. Brights have a place too. I find them most appropriate for breakfast rooms or kids’ rooms, and they can be fun in a small space like a powder room.
How do your clients come to choose wallpaper as part of their project?
Most importantly, I listen to the client and work with them to decide what they want the room to be. Once we meet and determine the look they want, I immediately start with looking for wallcoverings that fit their sensibility. The right wallpaper will set the tone. Clients always love that I bring wallpaper into the mix to help create a finished look and add some visual interest.
Do your clients have preconceived notions about wallpaper?
I’ve never had someone say, “No way, I hate wallpaper.” It’s more that they get excited when they see the wallpaper I select for their space. I’m almost always covering up painted walls with wallpaper, to reflect the owner’s personality and sensibility. There so much talent in the wallpaper category because it’s not like what wallpaper was even ten years ago. The options for customization are limitless.
Are there certain patterns you tend toward using in projects?
Depending on the client’s goals for the project, I really try to find a smart use of color within a pattern and will know it right off the bat if it’s right for a client. It will stand out in a bunch. Patterns that combine depth with the right balance of color are consistently among my favorites. I love to layer patterns in a monochromatic way to prevent spaces from becoming dated.
Describe a recent project for which the right wallpaper really pulled a room together.
I used this gorgeous feather pattern (see above) for a study/TV room. He wanted handsome and she wanted glam so this design spoke to me with its charcoal ground and shimmering pearlescent feathers. The dark ground combined with the hint of shine was a perfect complement to the black plantation shutters and black trim. In this home, I started in the living room — now every room is being covered in wallpaper!