Architecture and Design for J. McLaughlin

Style :

If you have ever been to a J. McLaughlin store, you have probably noticed that the interior design and architecture of the store are just as chic as the clothing on the racks. When I first visited the Charlotte store a few years ago, my first question to the sales associate was who was responsible for the store's design. New York based architect Doug Larson of Larson and Paul Architects is the creative force behind the store design for J. McLaughlin.

There are certain elements present in nearly every J. McLaughlin store, including bright colors, lacquered furniture, faux bamboo accessories, and pagoda lantern chandeliers.  But as you will see in the photos below, Doug specifically tailors his designs to each store's geographical location. For example, in designing the Washington Depot, CT store, he faced the exterior of the store in traditional white clapboard shingles and painted the window trim a contrasting peacock blue.  I have only spent one fabulous weekend in Connecticut, but I have to say that this store reflects quintessential Connecticut style.

The interior of the Connecticut store is crisp and bright, and the pale pink paneled ceilings add such interest that just does not exist with boring sheetrock.

The Charleston store is decorated in preppy pink and green.  I love that Doug kept the store's original wood floors, which are so appropriate for a King Street locale.  No detail is overlooked- even the clothing racks are complete with Greek key motifs!

The Charlotte store is located in an older house on Providence Road, in the heart of Myers Park.  Doug kept the rooms of the house in-tact, which gave him the opportunity to use different color schemes and themes for each room.  Coral chippendale style shelves centered between two large columns hold neatly folded sweaters.

A large traditional oriental rug and round wooden table give this room a homey feel.  Yet the geometric hand-painted ceiling design keeps the space feeling fresh and current.

The Washington, DC store is located on a corner in the heart of Georgetown.  The clean lines of the lime green awnings perfectly modernize the building's traditional brick facade.

The interior of the Georgetown store is the most modern of all the J. McLaughlin stores.  Bright green walls are painted with trompe l'oeil detailing to create the illusion of depth and molding.  And aren't those chandeliers so perfect for all the hip Georgetown shoppers?

The Nashville store is a new in-line space, making it a challenge to really stand out from the other shops.  But Doug's use of a classical turquoise facade adds architectural interest, and the orange awning is guaranteed to capture any shopper's attention!  Doug told me that he was inspired by the classical lines of The Parthenon when he designed the store.


The same classical architectural elements are incorporated in the trompe d'loeil details inside.  Instead of adding heavy molding, Doug's artist used a whimsical freehand technique to keep the designs colorful and not-too-serious, just like J. McLaughlin clothing styles.

We couldn't help but notice the Greek key details on the display cases.  Although this is a relatively new space, the large columns make the store seem older (in a good way) than it really is.

And of course, the Palm Beach store truly epitomizes J. McLaughlin style.  The yellow awning contrasts against the white exterior, and the front door is flanked by two large palm trees. 

Inside, the color scheme is very Dorothy Draper-esque, with the lime green and white contrasted with the gold and black mirror.  Don't you just want to buy it all?

If you live near a J. McLaughlin store and haven't been, you must go check out the cute clothes as well as the fabulous architecture and store design.  If you are thinking of hanging out your shingle or opening a shop of your own, Larson and Paul Architects would do a great job working with you through your interior upfit process.  They tailor the space for your needs and have a strong appreciation for the history and location of each of their designs.  Their work is a breath of fresh air in today's world of cookie cutter retail spaces, and frankly, it makes me love J. McLaughlin even more!

Thanks to Doug Larson for all his insight!  Photos courtesy of J. McLaughlin.
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