The World in Your Living Room

TVT_8957For many in the United States, traveling abroad is an unobtainable luxury. Exotic locales and foreign attractions are things to be seen on television or read in National Geographic, generally not sights to be experienced in person. It’s a phenomenon unique to our country. That doesn’t mean, however, that Louisvillians don’t have worldly taste.

In response to that need, Merry and Patrick Dougherty began Merridian Home Furnishings 19 years ago in St. Matthews. The name Merridian is a clever portmanteau of Merry Dougherty’s name and the Prime Meridian. It’s a name that implies that without leaving a single fixed line, one can travel the entire globe, and that is exactly what a customer does when looking at Merridian’s offerings.

On both the floor and the ample warehouse in the back of the building, Merridian contains some beautiful local wares in addition to some from India, China, Europe – essentially from all over the world. There’s a handsome bench from China whose patina, while fastidiously cared for, proudly features each and every imperfection. The same can be said for a breath-taking window frame from India that can either be hung on the wall or used to construct a table. It’s an impressive collection that, as trite as it may seem, offers something for everyone.  “We have boots on the ground at various places in the world that help us source these interesting, oftentimes old one-of-a-kind pieces. And this gives us a different edge compared to other traditional furniture stores,” says Merry.

TVT_8944The global nature of Merridian’s enterprise makes one wonder what the price point is for the majority of the items in the shop, but Merry assures that maintaining a business plan to offer these unique items at affordable prices has always been a priority. “I was having trouble finding things I really love and realized that there was maybe a niche in this market that was medium priced things that were a little bit extraordinary,” she says. “It’s easy to find beautiful things that are really expensive. Anyone can do that. I try to find extraordinary things that are more affordable for anyone.” She goes on to say that she and her team strive to work with any customer, no matter his or her budget, claiming, “We do have a $12,000 sofa, but we also have a $1,200 sofa.”

In addition to the affordability of the individual items, Merry says that Merridian is also strong at helping customers budget so that they are more thrifty with basic concepts and can later spend the saved money on a more lavish piece to elevate their space. “I always equate furniture and design to dressing. You can have a fairly plain black dress that didn’t cost very much, but if you put fantastic jewelry with it, you can wear it anywhere,” she says.

TVT_8963According to Merry, some other ways to accomplish the same feat are the re-purposing of pieces and the use of art. Trained as a classical painter and at Sotheby’s, Merry knows exactly how to do that: “That’s what we’ve been about since the beginning: re-purposing something that not necessarily would have the same use in the U.S. as in Asia. We find ways to alter it so that it becomes more functional for us. So that it maintains the authenticity but it becomes more functional.” She goes on to talk about art in a space and says, “Art can really set a place apart. You can have mediocre furniture and have extraordinary art, and it sort of elevates the whole room. So the art for me is a big element for any kind of space design.”

Like many stores this time of year, Merridian does have some Christmas themes and decorations up that are just as unique and beautiful as the other items in the store, but Merry commendably states that she doesn’t see her store as one to follow that easy trend: “We don’t go totally overboard with Christmas like a lot of stores do. I like important things that say a lot instead of a lot of stuff that says too much. We’re not a huge destination during Christmas.”

After the holidays, however, is the New Year, the season of resolutions. Resolve yourself to travel the world a little more, even if it is from your own living room. Get that exotic coffee table or that cosmopolitan rug. After all, Merry says, “If you see it here, you can take it home today.” Don’t deliberate. VT

 is located at 4660 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40207. For more information visit merridian.com or call 502.895.3151.