Artist gives new life to sentimental furnishings

DEAR DESIGNER: I have an old chest of drawers that my great-grandmother left me. The style is different than everything else in my home. It is actually quite unattractive. I am keeping the piece because I have a sentimental attachment to it. How can I make this very bland piece of furniture work in my classy home? — Annette.

DEAR ANNETTE: My respect for sentimental pieces of furniture and antiques would make my first answer to your question simple. Have the chest of drawers refurbished to its natural state and put it in a guest room to be utilized and enjoyed as you tell its story to your house guests. However, because your chest of drawers is bland, I have another option for you.

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting and briefly working with a very talented local artist who can make your bland-but-sentimental chest of drawers into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Leslie Rowland has been painting and manipulating furniture for the past 18 years. Many of her artful pieces are created from old pieces of furniture found in estate sales and antique shops. She is brilliant at turning a very average piece of furniture into a meaningful piece of art. Her art has soul.

Each piece of furniture is given a theme that is carried out by imbedding poetry and/or inspiring quotes from historical figures such as Albert Einstein, comedic icons such as W.C. Fields or femme fatales such as Mae West. The theme is enhanced with decoupage pictures, illustrations and symbols.

Leslie’s wealth of knowledge and travel experiences add a level of sophistication and thought to her themed pieces. I found Leslie to be an intelligent artist with a zest for life. Her furniture-made-into-art is a celebration of life and reveals her inspirations. Although art is always left to personal interpretation, Leslie’s fun approach and expression of life is sure to make you smile every time you come across a piece of her work.

If my great-grandmother left me a bland chest of drawers, and I wanted memories of her to live on in this piece of furniture, I would gather a few thoughts and other things and go see Leslie. First, I would type out many of the quotes I remember from my grandmother. Then, I would ask my mother, father and other relatives what they remembered about her: what sort of things she liked, quotes she used and hobbies she had. I would then choose a theme, gather a few black and white pictures, possibly even some old buttons and take all these things to Leslie.

Talk with Leslie, take inspiration from some of the other art she has created and express to her what you are trying to accomplish with this piece. Finally, I recommend that you let go of the creative process and allow this talented artist to perform her magic with your valued piece.

Whether you display this clever memory in a bedroom for your guests to marvel or in your private bedroom, I know you will enjoy the entire artful adventure. I hope you will smile as wonderful memories of your great-grandmother are revisited every time you walk by your furniture that was made into art.

Leslie Rowland can be contacted through her Web site


Cindy Payne is a certified interior designer with more than 25 years of experience, as well as a licensed contractor. E-mail questions to her at or send them to her at Project Design Interiors, 2620 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 189, Las Vegas, NV 89109. She can be reached online at


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