By Kim Hasty
Watching Patrick Leclair work his magic can make you forget, for a few moments, about things like global uncertainty and disconcerting news reports. Here in one small room of a Fayetteville home, he has taken discarded pieces of furniture, vintage accessories and estate sale finds and used them to stage a soothing retreat perfect for inspiring creativity.
Here is an answer, a departure from the ordinary, for those of us suddenly finding ourselves in need of a home office, a place to stash a laptop, printer, paperwork and files. A peaceful place to get a little work done and take a much-needed deep, deep breath.
Bill McMillan, right, executive director at Restore Warehouse, steadies a drafting table as Patrick Leclair adjusts its height.
An old drafting table that someone no longer needed serves as an adjustable desk, accompanied by an Army green file cabinet with handsome brass hardware. A patterned rug and throw contribute a southwestern feel, along with plants potted in baskets and pottery vases. Vintage album covers serve as artwork in contrast to volumes of classical literature and rare first editions on the built-in bookshelves.
A couple of guitars suggest a break from work to rekindle the creative flow.
“Being in a creative environment helps me coordinate my thoughts,” Leclair said, picking up one of the guitars and strumming a few chords. “Everywhere you look in this room, there’s something that makes you feel good.”
Leclair, former director of visual presentation for Ralph Lauren-Club Monaco in New York City, opened Leclair’s General Store in the heart of Haymount in 2017 shortly after relocating here with his family. The store, which offers coffee, wine, craft beer, antiques, art and local goods, is filled with items from his own collection, most of which are for sale. Leclair’s has become a go-to place for socializing with friends and for checking out cool items.
Friends have also enlisted Leclair’s help in decorating their own places, which brought him to this home in the Kingsford subdivision. The home will be on the market as soon as Leclair finishes staging the inside, a practice designed to show off the home’s best qualities. His friend Jennifer Lockart, owns Elevate Real Estate Partners, and another friend, Rebecca Fowler Lillich, will be the listing agent.
Inspired by the home’s saltwater swimming pool and large palm trees, he’s decided to give the home a rather mellow vibe.
“It’s kind of a California-style bungalow with mid-century décor mixed with some classic pieces,” he said.
Best of all, many of the pieces Leclair is using will go to help others, since he purchased them at The Restore Warehouse on Forsyth Street. Restore’s executive director, Bill McMillan, presides over a bustling business centered on reselling items that others donate. Proceeds go to local nonprofit organizations such as Operation Inasmuch, Fayetteville Urban Ministry and the Salvation Army. Established as a joint venture of Fayetteville Urban Ministry and Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity in 1999, the Restore Warehouse held a 20th anniversary celebration on March 17.
Leclair regularly stops in at The Restore Warehouse to check for pieces that might fit well into the personal collection he uses for his store and for others. On one recent visit he found several, including the file cabinet, the leather chair and the drafting table. Wing nuts on the side of the table allow the top to be adjusted so that it sits either flat or at an angle.
Drafting tables were once common in nearly every engineering department or architectural office, inspiring the phrase “back to the drawing board” for having to try again when something doesn’t work.
“My grandfather was an engineer,” Leclair said. “He always had one in his office.”
While Leclair scoured the warehouse for unusual finds, McMillan explained that net profits made from warehouse sales go to organizations that help those in need. Over the last 20 years, Re-Store Warehouse has donated more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations. It also helps that because the business sells new and used building and renovation supplies to the public at thrifty prices, people can outfit their homes affordably.
McMillan is happy to see everything go, even that vintage drafting table
“I don’t get emotionally attached to any of it; I don’t fall in love with it,” McMillan said. “I just view it as an opportunity to make money for those less fortunate. There’s nothing here that was here when I got here.”