Story by Sara Paul
A room full of playful, amateur painters sit patiently at their easels. Wine glasses in one hand and drippy paint brushes in the other, the guests excitedly await artistic instruction from their hostess, a sweet and smiling Chelsea Lade, who sternly adheres to one inflexible rule: “Keep your brushes in your water, not in your wine.”
Chelsea, owner of Warwick Wine & Design, takes center stage in her shiny, new studio as she guides her students through the steps of painting their very own acrylic-on-canvas masterpieces.
Her creative space, located in the Meadowcrest Building at 133 Rte. 94 S. in Warwick, offers art classes and parties in a fun and critique free setting, with an added bonus: attendees can tote their own wine, beer, and snacks to enjoy while they paint, chit-chat, and have a lively, art lovin’ experience.
“It’s really a fun atmosphere and everybody is here to have a good time,” notes the 33-year-old small business owner and Warwick resident.
“Definitely, my favorite thing about my business is meeting new and interesting people,” gleams Chelsea, who always gently assures her clients that, “There are no mistakes; only happy accidents.” (Of course, she gives credit to the great Bob Ross for the one-liner).
Chelsea herself was a regular at Wine & Design years ago and had always dreamed of owning a similar business. When the former owner announced she had decided to sell, Chelsea leapt at the opportunity.
The start of the tedious process of legal and financial negotiations to the blissful moment of key in hand spanned one exhausting year. Finally it was a proud, surreal day in January 2017 for Chelsea and her sweetheart, Matt, as they stood in the dated, dark space and realized the renovations they faced.
The team got to work immediately, renovating the entire interior of what amounts to two separate 1,000 sq. ft. studios, replacing floors, painting walls, and adding built-in counters.
With a slow start, Chelsea’s dream venture is now thriving. A young, yet seasoned entrepreneur, Miss Lade confides her small business owner secrets of success.
“I believe that you have to be the face of your business. I am always present, and I talk to every single customer,” states Chelsea, who goes through about 500 canvases a month and a ton of paint.
“People really seem to love the new space. It’s bright, fun, and cheery,” Chelsea said of the two adjacent spaces that hold 20 persons each, adding that Wine & Design also rents space for non-painting related events.
In addition, her birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, and even kid parties are a hit. Chelsea’s personal fave is watching the young ones paint.
“I love watching kids explore art. They have no fear and no intimidation. They go for it and fully express themselves so uniquely,” smiles Chelsea.
She has fondly observed that, “Adults may need a bit of wine to calm their nerves as if they’re going to make a mistake. We can learn a lot from kids. It’s just paint; have fun with it!”
While this savvy business woman may appear to be just a Hudson Valley gal with a cool venue for vino and creativity, Chelsea’s story has both artistic depth and inspiring charm.
Here’s a fun fact about the humble Miss Lade. One of her most cherished possessions is her Steinway Grand piano that sits regally in her living room.
“It was my dream to have it. I always wanted it and now I have it,” exclaims Chelsea, adding with a giggle that the Steinway cost more than her car at the time.
Notably, Chelsea has studied classical music, particularly Beethoven, since the age of six. Her folks would report that their only child was always enthusiastic about the arts.
Chelsea Amanda Lade was born in Ithaca, NY on Dec, 24, 1985. She was adopted as an infant and raised in Tuxedo Park, NY until moving to Warwick when she was 13.
Chelsea attended Warwick Valley High School and then SUNY Orange County Community College, studying the Performing Arts. She also studied abroad extensively in such faraway lands as Australia and Spain before moving to California at age 21. There she continued college work, majoring in piano, and also, discovered a cool local art biz called Paint n Sip.
After Chelsea returned to Warwick, she held such jobs as music school teacher and most memorably as an aid for a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Chelsea dutifully took the woman to church, the grocery store, and even free concerts, but sadly she never remembered the excursions. It wasn’t until one day when Chelsea played piano for her that suddenly something actually stuck.
“She remembered that I had played the piano for her! It was so amazing. It made my life,” she said.
Those magical moments did not end with rewarding jobs. Chelsea soon met her soulmate, Matt, who ironically had also moved from New York to California and back at just about the same time line as Chelsea. The lovebirds have been together for ten years and have three children: daughter Ava, 7, and three-year-old twin boys, Weston and Nolan.
“Matt is amazing and he supports me 100 percent. I am so very thankful for him and all the hard work he did in renovating the studios. I could not have done it without him!,” said Chelsea, noting that Matt took much of his personal time from his own contracting business, “Fine Line Construction,” to completely flip the studios around.
“It was a great experience for me to work with him and I joke that our next venture is being the next Chip and Joanna Gaines,” Chelsea jests.
For now, the classical pianist, photographer, world traveler, and mother of three hopes to continue to grow her business, paint and sell some of her own works, travel more, and of course, play her Grand Steinway at home every single day.
“I love sharing art and music with my kids and am happy to expose them to it. It’s awesome for their little brains,” she notes.
So, in good times and tough ones, from family frets to life’s little challenges, Chelsea reminds all to, “Be spontaneous, keep it different, and always have fun.”
Warwick Wine & Design is currently open five days a week, closing on Mondays and Tuesdays. In addition to painting on canvas, there are options to work with wood boards, wine glasses, and barn metal stars. Finished paintings by Chelsea are also for sale at $10 and frames are $25.
For more information and to book a class, visit the Wine & Design website at www.wineanddesign.com/locations/warwick.