Keenan and her team ooh and ahh over LEE's new 2018 fabrics
Coastal Living

Interior designer Jenny Keenan and the team from LEE Industries are pulling back the curtain on how they found the perfect pieces for this year’s Lowcountry Idea House.

By Taylor Eisenhauer

The doors are almost open at our 2018 Idea House in Habersham, South Carolina, (tours start July 5!). In anticipation of the big reveal, we asked interior designer Jenny Keenan and upholstery partner LEE Industries to give us an insider’s look at how it all came together. Earlier this year, Keenan visited LEE’s headquarters in Conover, North Carolina. Along with the team at LEE, Keenan picked out the furniture, fabrics, and other details for the laidback Lowcountry cottage. Here’s the lowdown on her trip.

Coley helps Keenan pick the perfect fabric, stitching, finishes, and trim for the Idea House
Coastal Living

The Design Process

Keenan envisioned this year’s Idea House embodying her signature coastal-meets-modern style, and brought her plans along to LEE’s HQ in North Carolina. There, she explained her vision, room by room, to Bondi Coley, LEE’s vice president of marketing, and other members of the team. Coley then helped Keenan hunt for the perfect furniture, fabrics, and trim that will bring Keenan’s vision to life.

Keenan chose pieces from LEE’s new collection, as well as from their classic designs. “They keep adding designs to the line that always feel fresh, which keeps us on the lookout for what they will introduce next,” she says. “And their classic pieces are timeless and work in so many of our spaces.”

WATCH: 6 Beautiful Beach Cottages

The Scoop on the Product

In addition to selecting standout pieces for the Idea House, Keenan also took a behind-the-scenes tour of LEE’s manufacturing headquarters, where the team explained the earth-friendly and entirely handcrafted process that goes into making a piece.

All of LEE’s furniture is made in the U.S. at one of the company’s four North Carolina plants. Keenan toured the main plant in Conover, getting a glimpse of the steps that happen at these locations: fabric cutting, sewing, spring installation (LEE uses an 8-way hand-tied spring system), batting application, cushion stuffing, and even shipping. By the time a high-quality piece of LEE furniture reaches your house, 60(!) people will have worked on it.

In addition to its stateside locations, LEE supplies 98 percent of their materials domestically and strives to make sure they’re sustainable. Plus, the company has introduced naturalLEE upholstery—examples include soy-based cushions and organic fabrics—and recycles 95 percent of its manufacturing waste.

A proud North Carolina girl herself, Keenan was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit LEE’s headquarters and learn about the company’s continuing innovations. “To have been to the factory and to have seen the family environment makes the company that much more meaningful to support,” she says.

Working with designers like Keenan is what keeps LEE Industries involved with our Idea Houses year after year—this is the company’s 11th year as upholstery partner. “The most rewarding aspect of the partnership is always the creative process and the opportunity it allows for our involvement in furnishing the entire home,” says LEE representative Katie Brice.

A brand new bed—you’ll be seeing this in the Idea House!
Coastal Living

The Finished Product

If you’re as pumped as we are to see what Keenan and LEE Industries cooked up, you can catch the full Idea House tour in our September 2018 issue. If you can’t wait until then (we know you’re excited), tours begin on July 5 and run through October 28. Check back here and on our social channels for content as we lead up to the big reveal. We’ll see you in Habersham!

To see more behind-the-scenes content from Keenan's visit, check out our Instagram.