The large, arched, stained-glass windows gleaming on the front of Palladio Home & Garden’s flagship showroom call directly to its roots. Andrea Palladio was a 16th Century Italian architect considered one of the most influential in his field, and he is the namesake of both the classic arched window style and the retail complex flowing through multiple buildings in the heart of Midtown Memphis.
The windows, designed by Memphis artisans Mickey and Ralph Laukhuff, were part of what drew interior designer Amy Howard to the building. After her sister and brother-in-law, Mindy and Frank Roberts, joined the business and added to its retail offerings, Amy eventually relocated her design studio, and the building at 2169 Central Ave. became Palladio Antiques.
Although the expansive showroom comprises wares by roughly 175 exhibitors, it is not, by any measure, what you would consider an antiques mall. Each vignette is created with a designer’s eye and is aimed at the style-savvy shopper. Although the shop initially leaned heavily toward antique and vintage pieces, the retailers now follow market demand and have an impressive mix of old and new.
At the time of its opening, Palladio Antiques was groundbreaking in its merchandising model. Now known as micro-retail, the idea of incorporating multiple, separate sellers with fully formed concepts under the same roof gives both professional and hobbyist home decorators a wide range of options to choose from.
Original art from the region is predominantly displayed throughout the building, from staged living areas to stand-alone gallery spaces. Furniture and decorative pieces make up the majority of the inventory, but there are other elements that add extra interest, such as vintage and new handcrafted jewelry — “sprinkles on the cake,” as Frank Roberts describes them.
Of course, if it’s actual cake you want, they can deliver that as well. Their coconut cake, featured in Café Palladio, has been acclaimed by guests and notable chefs alike. Open daily for lunch, Café Palladio offers a curated menu of soups, sandwiches, salads and sweets, with many ingredients sourced locally. There’s a Memphis-based nod to the classic tea room with the inclusion of products and accessories benefiting My Cup of Tea, a nonprofit employment training program. The café can also convert to event space, with or without an adjacent area called The Commons. From painting classes to art openings, The Commons provides a community meeting room for a variety of gatherings.
There’s a similar space in the newer Palladio Interiors. This second, larger home décor showroom follows the same concept as the original store, but puts a greater focus on trendsetting pieces and custom designs. Frank Roberts describes the feel as “new looks with old bones,” and the products inside include more of Palladio’s own creations. That’s right, they make home decor too.
Palladio Crafted, the company’s own furniture imprint, began with one carpenter and now employs a staff of four builders who work out of an on-site shop and finishing studio. Many of their designs use reclaimed materials from local sites, like a farmhouse-style table built from Christian Brothers University’s discarded bleachers. Although they honor history and can match existing furniture elements, they aren’t rehabbers — all of their work is focused on original pieces.
The Roberts family knew they might be on to something when they brought in a fountain to add ambiance to the café. A visitor from Indianapolis was charmed by the piece and bought it on the spot. When they brought in another fountain and the same thing happened, Frank and Mindy knew it might be time to consider a separate store for outdoor and architectural pieces. After taking a foreclosed warehouse down to the studs and dirt floor, the growing collection of outdoor and architectural decor had room to grow, and Palladio Garden was born.
The restored space is now cobblestoned with reclaimed brick and features large pieces primarily for outdoor use. They even loan out space to nearby stores like Graham’s Lighting that don’t have as much ceiling clearance in their own buildings. A paved path leads to more options outside, as well as a storage building housing aisles of reclaimed doors, lumber, mantelpieces and even wavy glass to complete historically accurate renovations.
After exploring all of these inspiring stores, you may feel ready to start creating something yourself. The Palladio company has got you covered there too. As a strong supporter of local arts, they established The Art Factory to provide a space for makers to thrive. Much like Palladio Crafted, the creative studios began with one artisan interested in sharing resources. That initial query grew into the rebirth of an office building into 20 independent workspaces and galleries housing painters, potters, photographers, textile artists and more. The company is taking this concept further with the 2018 opening of Quonset Studios, a multi-artist workspace in a historic Flicker Street structure.
After more than two decades, the Palladio brand is known and respected as a regional tastemaker, and regardless of your own personal style, it would be hard not to find something to love among their thousands of square feet of products. Indeed, it can be a day-long destination to browse interior offerings, enjoy a leisurely lunch, consult with the custom design team, pick up something for the patio and peruse the latest art coming out of Memphis. From antiques to emerging artists, you can discover your new favorites from any era at Palladio.
Thanks to Emily Robbins for her gorgeous photography!
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