A Designer’s Eye: Louisville Visual Guide

A Designer’s Eye: Louisville Visual Guide

A Designer’s Eye: Louisville Visual Guide 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

In our quest to gather inspiration and best practices, our recent travels took us to Louisville, Kentucky. Sure big cities like New York and culturally hip hotspots like Austin are always first to come to mind when you think of retail innovation but sometimes it’s the up-and-coming or revitalized cities where you discover fresh perspectives and forgotten techniques. Here’s a look at a few of our visual highlights.

Blue Ocean Traders

Located in Old Louisville lives a 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse chocked full of inspiration in what use to be an old bread factory. In 2000, owner Jason Mulvene started this trade only source helping retailers and interior designers bring their vision to life, hand selecting fine antiques and reproductions for home and garden from all over the world.

To source the vast amount of unique and truly one-of-a kind items, Blue Ocean utilizes a network of individuals to help source products from 16 different countries including Brazil, India and Hungary. You might even recognize some of their pieces, as they’ve been known to sell to popular retail brands Anthropologie and Williams Sonoma.

The open warehouse space is organized with a series of eclectically styled rooms, prime for an element of discovery upon every turn, with the occasional grouping of like items such as bust forms, glassware, and framed art. From heirloom frames to glove forms and tailesin leather chairs you could easily be consumed for hours on end with browsing the roughly 80,000 vintage, salvage, reclaimed, or reproduced pieces. Outside of their main showroom in Louisville, Blue Ocean Traders maintains two showrooms, one in Atlanta, Georgia and one in High Point, NC.


From Old Louisville to NuLu (New Louisville), this quaint area is filled with small boutiques, art galleries and restaurants full of history and character, and also home to some of the greenest commercial buildings in Kentucky. Nestled in this community culture of sustainability we found Mahonia, a beautifully curated home and garden store specializing in custom terrariums and decor.

The store offers a unique mix of vintage and modern décor, and a variety of sizes of plants catering to both suburban and smaller urban living environments. The assortments of plants stand out for their unique colors and texture, while carefully curated product like candles, vases, and jewelry of a similar aesthetic add the perfect compliment.

Customers can also browse the by-the-bloom flower selection to build a bouquet or sign up for one of their workshops and classes. For custom order consultations the design studio is reserved behind the cashwrap. The overall feeling of the space is welcoming making what can be a somewhat stressful process (picking the perfect plant) comfortable for both those with a green thumb or your gardening novice.

Please & Thank You

Voted best chocolate chip cookie in town, this small batch bakery and coffee shop is paired with a record store, the perfect spot to take a few minutes for yourself. Get an American or French Press, pour-over, or drip coffee, and then mosey on to the back room where you’ll find Mr. Friendly Records. You’ll be transported back twenty plus years to find an array of vintage LPs and even a few cassettes from an eclectic collection of music genres.

The P&TY concept was the brainchild of the husband and wife team, Brooke Vaughn and Jason Pierce. She was a baker and he was a previous record store manager. After moving to Louisville, Vaughn dreamt up this wholesome retro mashup. The name for the store came from a desire to bring basic manners, hence the name Please & Thank You. It also set the tone for the space intended to embrace a connected community feel with large refurbished tables.

Royals Hot Chicken

In 2015 the Nashville Hot Chicken craze hit NuLu when Royals Hot Chicken launched on Market Street. In the space formerly occupied by Taco Punk, the exterior doesn’t exactly scream fried chicken, but more Tex-Mex style. Inside long communal tables, and clean white décor give a more modern day restaurant feel. Guests order at the counter, and food is delivered to you at your table. Outside shipping containers serve as private patio areas.

While the main menu is relatively simple with a choice of chicken tenders or a fried chicken sandwich, the sides dish selections like black-eyed peas, pimento cheese grits, and baked sweet potato with sorghum butter add a nice accompaniment. Can quite take the heat? Customers can cool down with a cold beer, fresh bubbly, or bourbon slushy.

Photo Credit: Insider Louisville | StyleBlueprint | Danger Garden | BizJournals

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