Merridian Home Furnishings Brings Worldly Taste To The 502
By Janice Carter Levitch
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
Merry and Patrick Dougherty, owners of Merridian Home Furnishings, met on a blind date in Sante Fe, New Mexico, 23 years ago. Little did they know their love story would blossom into a thriving business that has stayed the course of their relationship – from a blind date to a joyful marriage that now includes four children.
The Doughertys started Merridian shortly after getting married and moving to Louisville in 1994. While trying to furnish their new home, Merry found herself wishing she could return to Sante Fe and visit certain stores that she was drawn to. Lingering thoughts of the artistic and eclectic furniture stores she admired there gave her the idea to open her own place. She realized there was a market in Louisville for people who wanted something a little different and more authentic than a traditional furniture store.
“We opened the Louisville store, and Patrick was going to pursue another career path, (but) we realized this was going to be full-time for both of us,” Merry said. They quickly recognized that a second location was on the horizon and later opened their 24,000 square foot location in Nashville, Tennessee. As for current day-to-day operations, Merry does the buying while Patrick oversees other components of the business.
Twenty-three years later, they are still happily married and their oldest child, born only two months after opening the store, will graduate from college this year. Kickstarting and quickly adding to the “next chapter” in life by moving from their old location at 4660 Shelbyville Road to 9801 Linn Station Road has been a monumental achievement. But when you meet the Doughertys and have a chance to saunter through the new showroom with them, their relaxed and peaceful demeanor override any thoughts that this wasn’t anything other than an easy transition. The fact that they have moved their store and increased the size of their warehouse and showroom from approximately 12,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet sounds daunting. However, their professional edge and creative fortitude ensure that they maintain their sense of serenity while providing the quality their customers want.
“We have shipped furnishings all over the country including Montana, New York, California and a lot to Florida,” Patrick said. “These are primarily customers in Louisville and Nashville who are familiar with Merridian and want to furnish their second home. Some of the out-of-town customers are through our contacts in Nashville because it brings people in from all over the world
“Several customers do have a primary home somewhere else but have a second home in Nashville, and that inspires them to purchase our items there,” Patrick continued. “Most of our products are shipped from about 7,000 miles away and are very unique, one-of-a-kind finds.”
“We also fill a need for people who are trying to do something from afar,” Merry said, “and because we work a little bit differently than most furniture stores, you can take things right off the floor. We’ve mocked up apartments for people right in the store and moved things around so they have a visual of exactly what they want. They can decorate an entire home in one day. So, it’s beneficial to be able to visit our showroom and leave with something the same day.”
Merridian has always presented itself as a furniture store that was carefully curated with beautiful things that most people don’t have access to. Sourcing directly from their unique contacts and vendors allows them to run the business more efficiently. Both Merry and Patrick are passionate about travelling, especially when they come across a treasure that they can have shipped back to the store. After traveling to a dozen or more countries on buying trips, they have developed a keen eye for what appeals to their customers. “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, we always see something new,” Merry commented. “We’ve brought back things that we never intended to, but we did because we thought they were exquisite. We had no idea what we were going to do with it when we got back or if somebody could use it. But, somehow, we’ve managed to find the right home for just about everything we’ve brought back.”
Their philosophy is that they want people to love where they live, and if you really don’t love where you live, then fix it. Given the amount of time we spend in our homes, they believe it should be an inviting and nourishing place that allows us to recharge.
What truly sets Merridian apart from many other furniture stores is the fact that shoppers can come in and put their name on an item and take it with them that day – including some exceptional items that many other places won’t have because they are exclusive to Merridian. The entire design team is constantly designing new furniture, and those designs go to vendors who are best suited to make those products. Creating their own line of furniture seems like second nature to Merry, and she spends a great deal of her time coming up with new ideas as trends evolve.
Much like the trends of fashion, which frequently change, so does the furniture on their showroom floor. Many of the old pieces found on their world-wide travels are refurbished and polished to bring them back to life. They also have new items that are completely reconstructed from old materials, such as old doors or windows that are given new life with vintage appeal.
The showroom is beautifully crafted and well thought out. Everything on display has a purpose and function: chic recliners, rustic wooden door fronts converted to cabinetry, modern art paintings, sculptures, chairs and tables galore. Some items are 100 years old and some are replicas of antiques. There are several apartment-style vignettes that are showcased to present a complete look for each area. Looks on display range from a neutral color palette surrounding a rustic-lodge feel to an area sprinkled with tangerine toned pillows and footstools that lend a more modern edginess. A “man cave” can also be found in the back corner of the showroom for customers who enjoy fine leather chairs surrounded by a masculine ambiance. There is something for everyone in this vast array of furnishings.
Part of what they provide is value along with customer service. “You can feel confident that you are getting a very competitive price with us,” Merry explained. “Merridian is your source for unique, handmade furniture and accessories from around the world, providing classic pieces to complement and enhance any style. From hand-picked, one-of-a-kind treasures to exclusively designed reproductions and accessories, we offer a casual, comfortable style with modern function.”
Also available is a vast selection of inviting-to-touch textiles and materials that are available to choose from when creating custom items. Whether it’s a rustic dining room table, elegant bedside nightstand or a leather chair that’s soft as butter, the choices are endless.
“Everybody has the ability to know what they like when they see it, but it can be difficult to actually curate what they want,” Merry said. “That’s where our designers are so helpful.”
The relocation and expansion of the Louisville showroom have been well received and is more convenient for customers. The shortcomings of the previous location have been resolved, and the space is much more inviting because of the added skylights and large showroom windows, allowing natural light to stream.
“With the additional space, we have a need for additional people, so we’re looking to hire five to ten new interior designers and sales associates,” Patrick said. “Because it’s so much larger, more opportunity has been created and many of those opportunities are in the design-oriented capacity. And it’s just a fun place to work. So, in the very near future we are hoping to find the right individuals that are motivated and want to be part of our creative team.” VT
Merridian Home Furnishings
9801 Linn Station Road