Even though Halloween is behind us, the long calorie-filled season of eating has just begun. Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas coffees and everything in between provide lots of cheer but also tend to tack lots of “lbs” onto the scale. What better way to get inspired to exercise than to head down to the Nashville Running Company! And while you are there, you may notice a new look. Gone are the days of fluorescent lighting and bad carpet–welcome to an interior savvy store. Behind the scenes of this new transformation is Birmingham resident, Caroline Sain. A talented residential designer in her own right, Caroline took on the challenge of flexing her interior muscles in the commercial territory. We had the pleasure of talking to Caroline and getting the skinny on how she redesigned the Nashville Running Company.
Thank you for joining us, Caroline! Tell us a little about yourself, your background and your approach to interior design.
I graduated from Auburn University with an Interior Environments degree and went on to intern with Betsy Brown, Inc. in Birmingham. I worked for her for three years as her assistant and then took a design position with Philip Sides Interior Design. I began working for myself a few years later while my husband and I started our family. I have been married for 13 years and have an 8 year-old daughter, a 6 year-old son and 5 year-old son.
I think my style has been pretty consistent since college. I definitely love to study the trends but believe my overall design theories have remained the same. I have always loved clean-lined upholstery covered in linen, simple antiques, and plenty of white! I love effortless and livable spaces that always have a few pieces that give them some personality. I truly believe that details matter but not everything has to be perfect. If you love the piece and it is not the exact size, style, or color you thought you wanted – it will work anyway. I feel that is what makes a room feel comfortable.
Since Birmingham is your home, how did the job for designing Nashville Running Company transpire?
I grew up with the wife of the couple who opened Nashville Running Company. She had seen my work, my home, and had asked for my advice on their home in east Nashville. When plans for NRC began she and her husband knew I could help accomplish the overall vibe they desired.
Walk us through the steps you took when designing this store. (input you had from the owners, your sketches or idea boards, materials, textures and colors used, placement of inventory, visual aesthetic, etc):
As with all jobs, I began researching nonstop! This is the phase where I become a little obsessed:). The owners were as obsessed as I was. We all came up with the “Vintage Industrial” look. A little Billy Reid meets the Nike store in New York. I came up with the idea of bringing a little Portland back to Nashville (the owner is originally from there). Some of the coolest retail spaces I found online actually ended up being in Portland. We loved the look of the Ace Hotel, Anthropologie and Madewell. The reoccurring theme in all of these places was the collected look, like they all evolved over time but also had a modern touch to them. The owners wanted their customers to feel at home and want to hang out a while, plus do a little shopping, of course.
We all did a ton of just plain “shopping research”. I would go in Anthropologie and study their creative, artful displays and then go next door to Lulu Lemon and study where they marketed certain products in their store. We not only had to achieve an aesthetic that we loved but we also had to learn the sales side of designing a space. This was a first for all of us so from the beginning we knew it was going to be a little trial and error and if in 6 months something didn’t work, we would change it. I drove to Nashville about once a month and loved going to flea markets and antique/junk stores to find all of the “vintage” pieces to mix in with all of the practical display units. I received many emails asking is this good old or just bad old .
I loved working with Lee and Angela! It was a dream for me because I literally would just throw out all of my creative thoughts and they would turn them into reality. Lee and his father are both very handy and did so much of the store themselves. For example, the shoe wall evolved from the fact they knew they wanted to incorporate some old barn wood somewhere in the store. We wanted the shoe wall to be a unique feature that did not replicate a typical shoe display. I remembered seeing a wall created from old shipping pallets and viola! Lee started collecting them and our incredible shoe wall turned into actuality.
As a primarily residential designer, tell us the differences when designing a commercial space vs. a residential one. What elements are more important or maybe take priority over others in a commercial space?
My approach was, actually, very similar. Your ultimate goal as a designer is to accomplish the feel or vibe you and your clients are envisioning. In my opinion, that doesn’t change whether it is a home or a business. You obviously have to take into account codes and handicap accessibility in a retail space which can affect some design decisions. My job was to design a space that not only looked great but also would help them sell their products. Overall, if a space looks good but does not serve it’s purpose, it isn’t a successful design.
Thank you, Caroline! We are inspired by your design and ready to go for a run!
For more information about Caroline, please see below:
Facebook – CS Interiors-Roxbury Road
Pinterest – Caroline Sain
(All images courtesy of Caroline Sain and CS Interiors)
Nashville Interior Design Blog