With a delightfully storied past, Nell Hill’s is poised to take its home décor mecca to new heights. The store—which got its start in Atchison, Kansas—quickly became a destination for many patrons to find inspiring home decor. From covetable accessories to bedding and much more, it offered customers everything but the kitchen sink—uh, and sometimes even the sink itself. The store eventually found a new home in Briarcliff Village and has been dazzling shop-goers ever since with its vibrant, eye-catching style.
Now the beloved store is in new hands. We got a chance to sit down with new owner Katie Laughridge to hear her take on what to expect for 2019. For one, she’s excited to carry on the traditions of the previous owner, Mary Carol Garrity, but with a fresh perspective. “My hope is that loyal Nell Hill’s customers will come in and feel a renewed energy in the shop,” says Laughridge. “I appreciate—and personally love—the ‘Updated Traditional’ aesthetic for which the shop has become known. And I certainly want to carry on that tradition while mixing in new finds in original ways.”
For Laughridge, that means sprinkling in new lines for her clientele to experience. She’s introducing new names, such as home-accessories designer Dana Gibson, and this summer, she’s adding wallcoverings and baby items to the mix. “Whether you’re on the hunt for some new décor pieces for your mantel or looking to redesign an entire home, you can do that with the products we carry,” she says. “I think that’s one of the many things that makes us so unique!”
Shoppers who have come to expect Nell Hill’s famed service and hospitality can rest assured. Familiar faces are still on staff and ready to help at a moment’s notice. “Customers are greeted by the door by someone who knows where everything is—and will guide them in the right direction,” says Karlyn Kubin, marketing director. “It’s like being in a friend’s home. It comes from our amazing, helpful employees.”
Given the store’s popularity, it’s not unusual to see tour groups come in to shop. Nell Hill’s regulars are known to pop in every couple week’s just to see what’s new in the expansive two-story showroom. For newbies, however, it can be a little overwhelming. Laughridge wants you to know her friendly staff is here to help. “First-timers will walk in and often say ‘I’m overwhelmed—there’s so much to take in,’” muses Laughridge. “So, we recommend people walk around a bit and then start shopping. They’re often in awe. There are so many things hidden in corners. Just find what speaks to you. That’s what makes this experience what it is.” (Shopper alert! What’s flying off the shelves? Their new collection of lamps have been uber-popular. Also going fast? Coffee table books, bud vases, and ginger jars. Blink and you might miss them.)
Laughridge is both excited and anxious to hear what clients have to say. “It has been a mixed bag of emotions, truthfully,” she says. “Taking over something I consider to be a Kansas City institution is nerve-racking—talk about pressure!” Fortunately—along with a stellar team—Laughridge has a background in textiles and marketing—both of which have come in handy. “I have been blessed in my career thus far. I’m incredibly thrilled to continue to expand my passion for fabric and home décor with such an iconic Kansas City establishment,” she says.
As always, Laughridgeand company says if you have questions, they have answers—and suggestions and ideas and tips and, oh—you get the idea. “Our displays are set up by our hugely talented team to inspire décor in a customer’s home. We want you to feel equally at home in our store,” she says. “Nell Hill’s also has a standout designer program. We offer free in-store consultations because our goal is to be approachable and help our shoppers enhance their own unique style. We can do anything from standalone pieces to designing an entire room or home. Not a lot of local companies offer the mix of product and service that we do.”
As spring turns to summer, Nell Hill’s continues to up their game as people move outdoors. Not only will you find colors and patterns “that are truly a breath of fresh air,” says Laughridge. “But we have seasonally inspired accessories and décor that will brighten any room in your home, garden, lake house, or weekend getaway. Specifically, we are bringing in some items for canine lovers in July as we celebrate the dog days of summer.” (Shopper alert! Check Nell Hill’s exciting calendar of events for upcoming programs. It all starts with local artist Jill Opelka’s appearance at the end of June.)
The store has two big upcoming specials where customers can shop to their heart’s content. First up? An Upholstery Sale from June 15 to July 15 which offers clients 20 percent off of in-stock and custom-ordered upholstery, such as sofas, benches, ottomans, chairs, and upholstered beds. Next up, the store’s Wood Furniture Sale from July 15 to August 15, which will have sales of 20 percent off case goods, both in-stock and special-ordered. “If you have a need for new furniture, these next two months are the perfect time to shop,” Laughridge says.
While Nell Hill’s may be your ultimate destination for exquisite home décor, it’s also one-stop shopping, figuratively and literally. In fact, Laughridge aims for all to have a great in-store experience. She just wants you to come and check out what she’s bringing to the table—and then, of course, how she decorates that table. “I want the next generation of Nell Hill’s shoppers to be just as comfortable here as our cherished current customer base,” she says. “You’ll find new ideas and fresh energy.”