Ottawa-based design firm Leclair Décor has developed a reputation for creating smartly tasteful interiors that feel at once modern and timeless. Founded by dynamic husband and wife duo Sacha and Melissa Leclair, the company seems be on a serious upward trajectory, taking on exciting projects and adding new team members (including the couple’s two absolutely adorable children.) We caught up with them to chat about the founding of their burgeoning studio, their inspirations, and the beautiful homes they create.
You founded your firm after remodeling your own home and documenting the process on social media. Did you ever expect this journey would result in your own interior design firm?
"I think we saw the potential and felt the creative passion for designing, but I'm not sure if we ever really knew to what extent it would develop."
Did you have a complete plan for your own home before you began renovations, or did the final look come about over time?
"We had a preliminary plan of getting everything painted out (as quickly as possible) and general furnishing style, but the finish touches came together over time."
What eras or inspirations most inform your aesthetic? Do you think of your style as being more traditional or more modern?
"We love to mix styles and genres and try to pull inspiration from various creative platforms. We like to call our style "warm modern." I think incorporating different styles while maintaining an overall refined look is really what makes a space come to life. You want it to look magazine worthy, but also completely livable."
Although your firm now has more employees, in the beginning it was just the two of you. Did you share a design sensibility from the start or did you have to find common ground between different visions?
"Thankfully we communicate really well and even when our approach to a design may have been different the vision always came together, taking both parties' thoughts and melting them together. We still work that way now; we aim to give each member of our design team their individual creative space but we often work together, pulling from each other’s thoughts and visions to create the best spaces."
On your website, you mention guiding clients on where to spend and where to save is one of your skills. How do you approach making a smart budget for a new space?
"Wouldn’t it be amazing every project came with an unlimited budget?! Unfortunately, that’s rarely (never) the case. We aim to provide our clients with reasonable budget expectations based on a variety of factors: is this their forever home, an investment property, a revolving door of teenagers and their friends, muddy dogs, aspiring finger paint artists? All of these things factor into which items we think should be ‘investment pieces’ and which shouldn’t."
What’s the most exciting part about embarking on a new design project with a client?
"We love what we do, and so we find the entire process fulfilling and rewarding, but there’s nothing like those first few days after a signing a new contract when we’ve been into the space, taken photos and measurements, and the design ideas feel like they’re overflowing. There’s a momentum that comes with the excitement of a new project and we try to ride that wave as much as possible."
What are some common missteps homeowners can avoid when planning their own decor?
"One of the biggest ones we see is probably actually not having a plan. We love the charm that evolves over time as you add personal pieces from travel or special gifts to a space, but when starting out from scratch with a new project, it is so important to have a plan! Even if this just means a colour scheme or an overall style direction. Clients often reach out to us when they’re halfway through a project and realize it’s not coming together."
Why do you use Schoolhouse Electric products in your spaces?
"Like we said above, we consider our style ‘warm modern’ and we love to mix styles and eras in terms of inspiration to create dynamic spaces that have some personality and tell a story. Schoolhouse Electric products are just a great fit for what we do: you can see the inspiration from past decades and styles, but everything still feels fresh. We also love the handmade quality of many of Schoolhouse's products and believe they add character to each project we use them in."
Finally, what makes a house a home?
"A house is a home when it looks great, feels great, and is a place you look forward to at the end of a day. It should reflect the people who live inside it and speak to their lifestyle, values, and personal taste!"
Photography courtesy of Leclair Decor