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Design Mecca Nell Hill's Grows + Flourishes

Store expands with design lab

Ask any designer that has crossed the river where their favorite spot for those 'wow' pieces is, and they will point to Nell Hill's. This bastion of great design was founded by Mary Carol Garrity in Atchison, KS in 1981, but their second location at Briarcliff Village has become an institution. When Garrity was ready to retire, Katie Laughridge saw an opportunity she couldn't pass up. 

"I've always thought that Nell Hill's was an amazing business and that Mary Carol was an amazing entrepreneur and human, and when I heard that this was an opportunity, my husband and I just thought we had to try it. My husband owns his own business and we had always thought that I might do something on my own as well. I knew that if I was going to do something that I was going to dedicate my life to, I wanted it to be something that I could have a lot of fun with but also that meant something to our community," says Laughridge. 

While she had always assumed that this business would present itself later in life, in fact, Nell Hill's presented itself just as Laughridge and her husband were starting their family. Now, she has two babies--a three-year-old and Nell Hill's, which has been teaching her just as much as her toddler. 

Laughridge says that she spent much of 2019 learning the ropes and getting into the swing of day to day operations. As she settled in, she's found opportunities to leave her signature on the store. Her experience as a mother has lead her to bring in more performance fabrics--fabrics that can take the wear and tear of family life while still bring the beauty and style that Nell Hill's is known for. 

"I very much wanted to keep the spirit that Mary Carol created with Nell Hill's, while still introducing some new ideas. This year, I'm excited to dig into some of the things that we wanted to do," says Laughridge. 

The most recent change at the store is the expansion of the design lab. While there are many pieces that can be purchased and taken home from Nell Hill's the same day, what makes them a designer favorite is their ability to customize nearly any piece of furniture, pillow, or bedding in the store. Peek around corners in their upper floor and you'll find row after row of luxurious designer fabrics just waiting to adorn upholstered pieces. The new design lab allows breathing room for the on-staff designers to work with clients in comfort. 

With a background in the quilting world, Laughridge has a passion for textiles. She says that while they attend market every year, they also have new fabric coming in all the time. With so much to choose from, the expanded space was necessary to accommodate client needs and adds a bright, cheery space for dreaming of your soon-to-be beautiful home. Every furniture piece in Nell Hill's can be customized by choosing from their extensive inventory of thousands of textiles, so your space can be as bespoke as the life you live within in. 

The expansion of the design lab reflects Laughridge's optimism for the future of Nell Hill's and her intention of letting the store evolve in an organic way. 

"I think one of the fun things about traditional design is that you can really play with it by adding in modern pieces and mixing and matching. And Katie and Mary Carol are at different places in their life, which brings a different perspective. As a mom of a toddler, she's really tuned into the performance fabrics. We are also bringing in a new kids and baby line in April. The overall aesthetic is the same but it's another way for Katie to share her life through the store, just like Mary Carol did," says Karlyn Kubin, _______.

Nell Hill's continues to be a one-stop-shop for those looking for statement pieces for a perfectly dressed dining table, oh-so-comfy bedroom, or an intimate office setting. Keeping a finger on the pulse of the design world has always been their forte and now Laughridge infuses the venture with fresh enthusiasm and energy. For more information about upcoming events, such as Thursday happy hours or their wooden furniture sale through March 15, visit them at NellHills.com. 

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