Business Profile Purveyors of Fine Woodworking
When Matt Leonard founded his general construction company nearly a decade ago, he brainstormed a name that would describe the services he offered. Wisely, he selected Leonard Custom Works, Purveyors of Fine Woodworking, an ideal choice for a business that provides everything from basic framing to elegant furniture.
Leonard Custom Works (LCW) handles a wide range of projects, including new home construction, additions, remodels, finish/trim carpentry, and one-of-a-kind cabinetry. Leonard and his crew can design interior elements—such as cabinets and free-standing furniture—and produce custom doors that double as works of art.
“Ninety-nine percent of what we do is custom,” Leonard says. “Whatever you need, if it’s made out of wood, we can build it. From inlaid bar tops and cabinetry, to bow-front cabinets, to your standard Shaker style.
“I like to think everything we do is our specialty, even rough framing,” he continues. “We frame like finish carpenters, because we know what it’s going to look like once the drywall and paint are up. We make sure it’ll look really nice, straight, and clean.”
Splitting his job sites evenly between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley, Leonard takes great joy in his work and shares his enthusiasm with customers.
“We see clients in their homes and under stress, because we’ve got their houses torn up,” he says. “So we try to make people feel like this is an adventure, this is going to be fun. It’s got to be fun. If it’s work, why would we want to do it?
“We really enjoy what we do,” he adds, “and the people we work for. My greatest satisfaction is the smiles on our clients’ faces when they say, ‘We love our home!’”
Relying on a small core of full-time employees, as well as carefully selected subcontractors, Leonard delivers top quality results with a personal touch.
“We’re customer oriented and we cater to the needs of the client,” Leonard admits. “I don’t like to overlap jobs, so we don’t try to jam six or seven jobs into a month.
“I feel clients hire me to build what they want,” he says, “and if I’m doing that for multiple clients at one time, they’re not going to get the attention I think they deserve.”
For homeowners tackling the design stage of a project, Leonard gladly offers suggestions and provides examples of his work.
“We have a working shop,” he explains, “and we typically have pieces in there that are either being fabricated or are ready to be sent out for finishing. When clients call and want to see our work they’ll either stop by the shop or, a lot of times, we give them names and addresses of previous clients.”
Leonard’s clients reward him with warm reviews and an abiding willingness to open their homes to others considering LCW for their home improvement projects.
One such project took place at the Bone-Smalldon home in Los Olivos, where Leonard designed, built, and installed custom cabinetry, vanities, and a new staircase. Linking past and present, Leonard repurposed the original floor joists: Douglas fir from the 1880s now lives on as the house’s welcoming front door.
“We went through the home and customized it for them,” Leonard says. “One vanity we built has a pull-out step so their young son can get up and wash his face, brush his teeth.
“Another piece is a Honduran mahogany vanity with raised panels, many different moldings, and a large tower in the center for linens,” he continues. “It was really fun to build. It’s got a beaded front, furniture feet, and is a very nice piece of furniture.”
The five-acre property supports a number of black walnut trees, so Leonard suggested wide-planked walnut flooring to help create an interior that reflects what he calls “that Santa Ynez Valley feel.”
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Leonard, 37, began working in construction as a laborer at the age of 16. For four years he learned the fundamentals of his trade by fixing houses, and then took a job with a local contractor who specialized in home additions and remodels.
From there Leonard moved into doing finish carpentry with a Santa Barbara company known for its craftsmanship, where he polished his skills and developed a lifelong passion for working with wood.
“My perfect work day is just hanging out in my shop,” Leonard laughs. “To come in and build a cabinet or door or even just sit on the lathe and turn a bowl is probably the most relaxing thing I can do.”
Drawn to the sunshine and rural serenity of the region, Leonard and his wife, Julie, moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 2003, confident that the vibrant community would provide an ideal environment in which to raise their two children.
“It’s really nice to find this little niche,” Leonard says. “It’s like what the neighborhoods used to be like when I grew up and had a paper route, and played outside until dinner time. The sense of community is really big for us.
“My fun,” he adds, “is coming home at night and playing with my children in the back yard. I love being at home, I love being at work. I love it all!”.
INFO: Leonard Custom Works is located at 84 Industrial Way, Ste. A, Buellton. For more information visit leonardcustomworks.com or call 729-6402.