In the days before he could own a television, Lee was a teacher in New Orleans and had to find a way to keep his own house clean.
“You couldn’t put a vacuum cleaner up your house, so I had to have a small cabinet full of things that people wanted,” he said.
“And then I started to realize that we’re all living in an age when we’re going to have to change everything, and I thought, ‘What am I doing that’s going to make people happy?'”
His design and manufacturing skills, combined with his love of design, lead him to create the world’s most unique furniture, including the most unique cabinetry in the world.
“I don’t want people to look at the house and say, ‘Wow, this is really nice,’ ” Lee said.
And in the process, he found a way for his customers to really appreciate the work.
“When people walk in, I’m kind of in the back of the line, but I’m very nice and the customer gets a lot of pleasure out of that,” he explained.
The new $5,000-a-month luxury cabinetry business, Lee’s Designs, launched last month in Toronto and Vancouver, with a goal to offer the best of Canadian design and engineering at a price that people can afford.
In addition to his home, Lee owns a private collection of furniture including a collection of original pieces from the late-19th century, including one that looks like a Victorian room.
The collection has a capacity of 30,000 pieces.
The first pieces are hand-carved in a style reminiscent of French chateau style, and Lee says he’s been asked to recreate some of the original furniture and sell it.
He says he has a list of 20 to 25 pieces that he plans to display.
One of the most popular pieces is a cabinet made from pine and cedar.
“That was my original cabinet,” he told CBC News.
“But when I started looking at the materials that they used, I realized that it was the perfect material.”
The wood from the cabinetry pieces are then used to create a full-size wood frame for the main room.
Lee’s designers and makers are also responsible for the furniture’s color, which reflects the natural beauty of the area.
“The best thing about the wood is that it reflects the land,” he says.
“It’s the natural environment that’s in the woods.”
Lee’s design expertise is evident in the design of the room, which is a combination of his own style and an imported piece from the Netherlands.
“In the Netherlands, the wood was very natural, it was very soft, it had a lovely texture,” Lee said, adding that it’s “not the most aesthetically pleasing.”
Lee has spent the past year rethinking how to create his pieces, and he’s looking to build on the heritage of his previous design and fabrication techniques.
“My intention is to create something that’s a living room,” he explains.
“This is the room of my life.”
He’s also looking to create unique items that are easy to find and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
“People are going to appreciate it when you have something that they can go back to,” Lee says.
And with the growing trend of contemporary design and home decor, Lee says his work can only get better.
“We are in a world where people are very passionate about their decor, and they’re not satisfied with the status quo, and it’s going in the wrong direction,” Lee told CBC’s On The Coast.
“They’re going back to the things that they grew up with, and that they know how to do.”
The next step is to sell the furniture to other designers.
“As an entrepreneur, you want to create that sense of a place where the people are together,” Lee explained.
“If I can create a piece that I think is going to be the right place for them to be, then that’s what I’m going to do with it.”
For more information on Lee’s Design and Manufacturing company, visit their website at www.leesdesigns.com.