Interview with Leah Niese of #RaisingtheBarn

Mar 4, 2022 | Residential

Leah Niese reaching across her kitchen counter toward two small children

Today we sat down with our client Leah Niese, the owner of a newly built lakeside paradise lovingly referred to as “Raising the Barn”. Hear from her as she explains her experience working with our Design Strategists to create her new construction build!

What caused you to seek out a Strategic Designer to help with your new build? 

So I actually brought Rachel into the project after the first six meetings with the architect. Before I met Rachel, I was very, very overwhelmed. I was busy with two babies at that time, and we were traveling every 10 days to see my husband.

During the build, my architects would ask me so many questions that were totally out of my league. I had no idea what I was doing!

I actually went through a phase of panic where I had to shut everything down so I could have time to think. So I started Googling. 

When I found Rachel's name online, I contacted her and basically said, ‘I need help’. We did a couple of phone interviews back and forth, and I mean instantly, it was like, we clicked.

“She was amazing. Her whole team was – everybody that we've ever worked with was just amazing. They really listened to what I had to say.”

I never could have built my house without them because they knew ALL the ins and the outs- I mean we’re talking from placing an outlet, you know, 2 more feet to the left so our bed frame would fit. Just experts on everything- even the littlest details that a normal person wouldn't think of.”

great room couch

What did you envision for your home as you were laying out the plans? 

“I didn't want it to be fancy- I wanted it to be beautiful. And I wanted people to be in every part of the house without a second thought.” 

I wanted it to feel very homey and very inviting. We love having such a big family, and we love to have our family over (obviously!) for any event possible. And so when we were building, I expressed to Rachel that ‘I need a space that people can come and just hang out.


How did you combine your aesthetic preferences with your husband’s?  

Rachel started pulling ideas from myself and from my husband, he is very country rustic. He wanted it to be all old barns… and let’s just say I'm a little bit more modern. I love the rustic feel, but I wanted some metals and some industrial feel. And both of us, you know, butting heads were like, how are we going to accomplish this? And Rachel did everything.

master bathroom mirrors

“She just took both of our ideas and she combined them perfectly.”

And we literally have the perfect amount of rustic and the perfect amount of industrial together. Magic!”


What are some specific parts of the house that you personally find interesting or love the details of?

I just love the fact that we ended up with maybe eight or nine different barns that range in age – our oldest barn was 1799 all the way through. They all have a little bit different color, but they all tie together beautifully in the home. 

Party room stairs

I also love that for my floor Rachel found a company out of Kentucky that repurposed old fencing –  you can see the character and the color of black throughout the wood. It just tells the story so well. So every time somebody comes in here, I have fun stories to tell them all about our house.”


What was your favorite part of the entire process? 

I would have to say right when we were starting to pick out the designs- you know the cabinetry, countertops, etc- I realized I couldn’t communicate what was in my head. But that’s where I really appreciated Rachel so much. She was so thoughtful of my feelings even though she had to change designs so many times for me.

kids pink bathroom shower
kids pink bathroom

For instance, she designed my daughter's bathroom. And I looked at the 3D rendering like she was a crazy person. Like, what is this? I don’t know how to go about it.

And she said, ‘Just trust me. I feel like you're going to love it.” 

So, I said “You know what? Let's just do it.’

And that bathroom is by far my favorite bathroom in the whole house!

Rachel is awesome.  

Great room baby in swing
master bedroom looking out window with cozy corner
kids bedroom
Party room stairs

“I loved working with Rachel and I miss working with her whole team. I wish I could start like a whole new project just so I could bring them on board again, they really are awesome!”


Want to talk about your new construction project?

We've got the know how to make it happen!