Before and After: Arco Avenue's Modern Transformation

We love a good before-and-after design story almost as much as we love hearing about TSG businesses collaborating, so when we heard that TSG Jackson’s SummerHouse recently transformed shoe and accessory boutique Arco Avenue, we asked them to share the behind-the-scenes details. Here’s how the design re-do—part of which can be seen in the “after” shot, above—came about….

The History: In 2011, Katie Miller bought a space in The Township, a shopping center in a suburb of Jackson, Mississippi, where she planned to open Arco Avenue, a women’s shoe and accessory boutique. Previously, the 1900-square-foot space had been home to a clothing shop, and Miller was able to quickly and easily create an overall look for her shoe store using the existing furniture and fixtures (shown above, in a photo from TSG Jackson taken before the design update; additional “before” photos appear below).

A couple of years later, however, the successful shop owner decided it was time for a refresh. Ready for a more modern look that would also allow for more display space, she reached out to her Township neighbors, the designers at SummerHouse, an interior design firm and furniture store, for guidance on how to achieve her vision.

Lisa Palmer, SummerHouse owner and principle designer, quickly began work on the project, and pulled in designer Elish Phares, who she calls “our little fashionista.” The collaboration was a success. From the paint color to the furniture to the fixtures to the lighting, the design that the SummerHouse team came up with based on Miller’s goals for the project “Couldn’t have been more perfect,” Miller says.

“We wanted a clean and tight color palette, so eventually, a design featuring modern displays, mixed metals, statement lighting, and complimentary neutrals evolved.” —Elish Phares

The Vision: In addition to feeling more spacious and fresh, Miller and the designers wanted the store to have a well-traveled feel that wasn’t “too anchored in Southern small-town style,” Phares says. The desire to give the boutique a current, cosmopolitan vibe but still honor its local roots led to the custom-designed map of an imagined Jackson transit system that hangs behind the cash wrap (last image featured). Miller’s sister-in-law Laurel, who also happens to be SummerHouse’s Social Media Director, was behind the design of the artwork, which Miller says exceeded her expectations.

The Elements: Details and decisions both large and small contributed to the drastically different new look. For starters, painting the khaki colored walls in Benjamin Moore’s Dune White “transformed the space immediately,” Miller says. “It makes our shoes and accessories really pop.”

Custom-made pieces also reinforce the boutique’s lighter, more modern appearance. Perhaps the best example of this is the striking geometric window display (above), which, according to Phares, developed after extensive research into innovative displays in cities known to be fashion meccas. Knowing the importance of the window display in terms of conveying the store’s brand to passersby, Phares was committed to making it outstanding, and she worked with craftsmen Mike Williams, a metal worker, and Frank Wells, who specializes in custom furniture pieces, to achieve the ideal look, finish, and function.

“Arco’s new design scheme married an industrial and international look. I felt the unique lines, lacquered shelves, and gold sheet metal [of the window display] created a signature look for the store.” —Elish Phares

One of Miller’s favorite new pieces is a display table situated near the back of the store that Phares designed. “I had an idea of a three-level cantilevered display for the shoes,” she says. “A sleek antique cloud mirror top with gold veining on the tabletop gave it an added edge.” Despite having to make a few alterations, the piece, on which she worked with local craftsman Dennis Deister, turned out exactly as planned.

Clear glass shelving, which optimizes the overhead lighting; two metallic benches by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; a brass and Carerra marble coffee table by Jonathan Adler; jewelry display and gold-and-white shelving piece from Worlds Away; the chandelier, pendants, and sconces from Arteriors; and sofa re-covered in Mitchell Gold cognac velvet complete the airy, contemporary look that Miller calls “chic perfection.”

“It’s exactly how we envisioned it: light, bright, product-focused, and sophisticated. And because Katie’s our neighbor and the sister-in-law of Laurel, there was something extra special about working with her. She really is like family! This project was a dream project.” —Lisa Palmer