One could call it a homecoming of sorts for West Side native Leslie McManus, who recently returned to the neighborhood she grew up in to open her own interior design company.
Housed in the Horsefeathers building at 346 Connecticut Street, Blueprint Design Studio offers an array of interior design services to clients who are looking to create more artistic, comfortable spaces in their homes. What makes the shop unique is that it is the city’s only tile showroom, offering a wide variety of eco-friendly tile options and an artist ready to help her customers create beautiful spaces with them.
“Having a fine arts background, and enjoying art, the craftsman who create art, and the beauty of design, I gravitate toward tile,” Leslie said. “That in itself is artwork and if people think about it that way, it enhances the space in a whole new dimension, as opposed to just the function of tile.”
Leslie obtained her undergraduate degree in fine arts from University at Buffalo and a graduate degree in interior design from the New England School of Art and Design. During her time in Boston, she began working at a small interior design business and fell in love with tile and its design.
“One of the companies I worked with was Artistic Tile, and I realized that the brand is not represented in Buffalo at all,” Leslie said. “It’s a beautiful product and the company’s philosophy is wonderful. A lot of their product is crafted by hand and they’re very conscious about how they produce their products. I wanted to bring that here to Buffalo. They were also so supportive of me as a small business owner.”
Once she had Artistic Tile on board as a vendor, several other companies followed. Leslie focuses on sourcing from eco-friendly companies with a range of affordability. She also features cement tile, which is not only currently very trendy, but also very budget-friendly.
“I’m very conscious about the environmental impact of stones and tiles,” Leslie said. “Once you take them out of the earth, they can’t go back. If the company is doing things to balance that out and paying attention to make sure the environment is taken care of, I appreciate that.”
In addition to tile services, Blueprint also offers paint color consultation and organization services. Leslie has made an effort to feature local products, including paint lines from C2 Paint, located in Amherst, and hand-silkscreened wallpaper from Red-Disk, based in Buffalo.
“Red-Disk started a wallpaper line featuring replications of Charles Burchfield’s designs,” she said. “The product is gorgeous, made here in Western New York, it’s hand-silkscreened, and they have more designs coming.”
Leslie’s obsession with adding color and vibrancy to a room pairs well with her knack for organizing. “I find that no matter what project I work on, someone needs help with organizing, she said. “I can go in for color consultation and they need organization. It goes hand-in-hand. I try to learn about each person’s individual style and not project my style on them. Some people are visual, while others need things tucked away. It’s about learning how they work and what they need.”
Leslie’s goal for Blueprint is to provide a consulting business that makes the design process enjoyable for her customers, where she’s designing a space with the client as opposed to doing it for them.
“My theory is that when you’re redesigning a space, if you start out with the intention that it’s going to be an enjoyable experience free of stress, you’ll have fun during the process,” she said. “Then when it’s done, you’ve put all this wonderful beautiful energy into the space. It creates a space with personality and at the end of the day you should love living there.”
Blueprint’s showroom hours are Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Leslie takes appointments for consultations on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The shop will also be open for the Horsefeathers Winter Market season, which begins on November 4.
“This is my home,” Leslie said. My mom’s side of the family has a lot of entrepreneurs – her father ran a chicken market on Virginia Street. It feels really awesome to be able to have that generational thing, and to be around this part of the West Side that wasn’t thriving when I was younger. To be here for the revitalization of it means a lot.”
To learn more about Blueprint and the services offered, check out the website at www.blueprintbuffalo.com.