Designers Lindsay Cannon and Karen Kerns of Lovelace Interiors anchor the dining room of a condo in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida with a Feizy Reagan wool and viscose rug.
"The fact that we have such a large showroom space and are able to showcase all of our offerings really sets us apart," says Lindsay Cannon, an interior designer who's been with Lovelace Interiors for 10 years. "A lot of designers work out of their home or a small office" and aren't able to show clients actual pieces of furniture, only swatches or photos.
Designer Lindsay Cannon of Lovelace Interiors tells RugNews.com: "If we design a job, we definitely sell a rug with it. Rugs are 25 percent of our business."
"Our showrooms allow clients to see the quality in person, and to see furniture groupings together so they can envision a whole room. People love to see and feel things, so it's been a big draw for people coming to us."
You might say Susan Lovelace is a household name in the Emerald Coast's design community. For decades her eponymous interior design firm has been outfitting primary residences, vacation homes, and even restaurants up and down the Panhandle and beyond.
Designer Lindsay Cannon shows how one rug can be used successfully in different settings, one in a secondary den/media room in a home in Santa Rosa Beach, another in a converted stair landing/office nook in a Watercolor, Florida home.
"Susan has been on the Emerald Coast for 50 years, so we definitely have a coastal feel. But our designers always work within the parameters of their clients; we have some designers who do extremely contemporary work, and others that excel at very traditional looks. It all depends on the client and what they want."
Earlier this year, in March 2019, Lovelace Interiors opened a second location, on Inlet Beach, about 20 miles up the coast from the main showroom. Says Cannon, "Our two showrooms are very different; our new location is very coastal with lighter colors and materials, and a focus on original art." The original location, meanwhile, has a more formal feel, with lots of rich color and texture, and has an extensive lighting department.
An open dining and kitchen area is grounded by a Feizy Aqua Mojave jute and cotton rug. Design by Lindsay Cannon and Karen Kerns of Lovelace Interiors.
Walk-in shoppers who are just looking for a sofa or an accessory might ultimately turn into design clients. The showrooms are staffed entirely with interior designers, so they're able to offer expert advice on the fly, or help identify clients who might need a more extensive consultation. Lovelace employs 14 designers who work between the two showroom locations while they're not in the field.
Lovelace Interiors' showrooms have also become a valuable resource for smaller designers in the industry, who are able to order items for their own clients through the larger firm. "We have a designer to-the-trade program," explains Cannon. "A lot of times, for furniture lines, you have to have a yearly investment in order to keep the line. Designers will come to our showroom and we can offer them a substantial discount to order through us."
Within both the showrooms and design installations, area rugs play a starring role, says Cannon. "Rugs and art are my two starting points when I begin work on a project," she says. "We'll start with the area rug, which gives us the color palette, and often we'll stay more neutral on upholstery. We definitely use them in all of our projects." In fact, Cannon estimates that area rugs account for about 25 percent of the company's sales. "If we do a job, we definitely sell a rug with it."
A one of a kind wool oriental rug was the starting point of a traditional living room design by Lindsay Cannon and Bunny Hill of Lovelace Interiors for a bay front home in Panama City, Florida.
Within the showrooms, there are roughly 20 rugs on the showroom floors at any given time, featured within vignettes throughout the space. The company typically has 10 to 15 more designs in stock in the warehouse, but shies away from displaying rugs on hanging racks or stacks, preferring instead to show them in room settings. Additionally, the designers' resource area in the showrooms has 18x18 samples from various manufacturers for customers to peruse.
In terms of product selection, Cannon says that the company's buyers focus on rugs that are durable and affordably priced, preferring machine-made rugs over hand-knotted unless they're working on a primary residence. "We carry a lot of machine-made rugs; there are so many good-looking ones that look handmade but have the price point of a machine-made rug," she notes. Durability and easy care are also important since many clients have condos or are outfitting their properties for highly trafficked vacation rentals.
Transitional designs account for the bulk of the product selection, in palettes like blue, linen, neutrals, white, and grey. "People don't want their beach house to look exactly like their house back home," says Cannon. "They're willing to have a little more fun down here." Free form cowhides are very popular, she says, especially in dining rooms, and woven natural fibers like jute are also a common request. While the showrooms don't stock indoor/outdoor rugs, they're often special-ordered for specific projects, especially for loft areas, kids' bunk rooms, patios, and outdoor areas.
Lovelace Interiors' Lindsay Cannon, Susan Lovelace and Brook Williams anchor a Watersound, Florida home's guest bedroom with this Feizy Lorrain rug.
The firm also has the capacity to offer custom options, both through its vendors, and, for particularly unusual requests, they can have a carpet cut and bound through a local resource.
As Lovelace Interiors' reputation has grown, its clientele has expanded to other locales. Cannon says one designer is currently working on a winery in California, while others have completed projects in New York, Atlanta, Mississippi, and South Florida.
"We do a lot of social media and online advertising, as well as local advertising," says Cannon. Lovelace Interiors has no plans to expand its business by opening showrooms outside its current area. But the next move that Lovelace is considering is a bigger online presence. "We think that being able to have customers purchase things online would be a natural extension to the business," says Cannon.