You looked into the windows and they had their displays in there. And there’s parquet in the bottom panels of the doors. We built out the walls and created cavities for the wine, took old wine crates and covered the back walls like they might have done -- by necessity -- in 18th century Paris. Then we covered the ceiling with oak flooring to add another touch of character.
Charlotte, NC (Vocus) May 12, 2010
The luxury homes that Leo Dowell designs for his affluent clients may be the most authentic French Country homes available in the U.S. Not long ago, the Charlotte based designer heard about an 18th century Paris wine shop set to be demolished on the Champs Elysees. He bought the dismantled treasure and adapted its design to a wine cellar in a new 15,000 sq. ft. North Carolina luxury home. Stand outside that wine cellar today and you’d swear the shopkeeper was on the other side waiting to let you in. It’s that authentic.
“I re-created the front of the wine shop as it was on the street,” Dowell says, opening the vintage-looking door with the old hardware for a visitor. “You looked into the windows and they had their displays in there. And there’s parquet in the bottom panels of the doors. We built out the walls and created cavities for the wine, took old wine crates and covered the back walls like they might have done -- by necessity -- in 18th century Paris. Then we covered the ceiling with oak flooring to add another touch of character.”
Dowell’s specialty is creating homes and small residential developments with a style that loosely might be called European Romantic. His designs have a comfortable elegance about them and a feeling of permanence. Exteriors have that hard to find note of authenticity, which carries through to the interior design. Rooms don’t so much stand apart as introduce themselves to one another. There’s a comfortable flow to things, a welcoming mélange of hallways and doors, arches and nooks, vaulted ceilings, graceful entrance ways and warm kitchens. Much of the materials and fixtures are original, most likely acquired during one of the designer’s grand tours with clients to the Paris Flea Market or the South of France.
The architectural treasures that help make Leo Dowell’s homes so appealing, satisfying and authentic may include an antique fountain in the courtyard, 200-year-old beams for a client’s library or wrought iron balconies from a building on the Left Bank. He is an expert in the adaptive re-use of historical materials for homes, country clubs and the occasional restaurant, which, to his way of thinking, is a very “green” design concept. Whether designing a single room or complete luxury residence for a client, or working with a residential developer to create a luxury village, Dowell often imbues his exterior and interior designs with what he calls “the dusting of the centuries.” He somehow is able to blur the lines between old and new in a novel and inviting way -- even when it comes to accessorizing. “To get the picture,” Dowell suggests, “imagine a rug worn by time and bought on one of our European trips. Or perhaps a French Country kitchen with authentic Provence details set off by a Sub Zero refrigerator and La Cornue range.”
“Leo only does things correctly,” said one client who says she wished she’d discovered him before spinning her wheels with other designers. In fact, clients consistently say that their Dowell-designed home is what they’d always wanted but had not been able to achieve. Why?
“Two things,” the designer says. “First, they didn’t know they could get what they wanted. And second, they hadn’t met Leo Dowell!”
Prospective clients interested in learning more about Leo Dowell’s deeply satisfying exterior and interior designs are invited to contact Leo Dowell Interiors. A no-obligation phone conversation will be arranged with Leo at the earliest convenience.
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A Country French residential development Leo designed.
A $15-million European Country home that Leo designed.
A Leo-designed 8,000 sq. ft. luxury residence featured in the PBS show, “For Your Home.”
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