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a new door
story by Shaila Creekmore, photo by Amy Long

Since opening in July 2010, Leigh Montgomery has continued to grow her interior design and retail store in Jonesboro with additional lines and services. In October, she expanded her business into a second location in Memphis and rebranded the business to reflect fresh, new styles available in both locations.

Opened under the name That French Shoppe, the Southwest Drive store had a traditional, rustic charm that made customers instantly feel comfortable when entering the showroom. While the Jonesboro store’s style will remain much the same, the new Memphis showroom offers a more modern design that didn’t lend itself as easily to the rustic French style.

“The overall feel (of the Memphis location) is a little bit more chic. (The Jonesboro store) has a little bit more of a rustic element to it where (Memphis) is a little bit more clean and fresh,” said Montgomery. “I didn’t want to corner the market to French and I wanted the brand to be the same. We are French inspired, but we keep it kind of eclectic – we keep a mix.”

A friend suggested the name Blue Door, but Montgomery knew she would need something more memorable. She worked with the marketing firm Inferno who suggested the unique spelling “Blu D’or.” “I just fell in love with it,” said Montgomery.

Earlier this year, Montgomery began to consider opening a second location in Memphis when hearing from designers (there) who said they lack options for quality furniture and design selections.

“Several of the furniture locations in Memphis had closed and there was an open market,” she said. “I felt like it was a good opportunity and everything just fell into place.”

For Montgomery, the first crucial component in opening the second location was securing a manager who could run the day-to-day operations in Memphis. She hired fellow designer Lee Jones to lead the new store.“Lee and I are good friends and she’s established in the business (in Memphis),” said Montgomery. “The key to having a successful business was having a good manager over there.”

The Memphis store opened in Laurelwood Shopping Center among a collection of locally owned businesses and popular chain stores and restaurants. The Memphis store is relatively the same size as its predecessor, but the Memphis location has a designer workroom for interior decorators to work with clients inside the store. Blu D’or Memphis also has a designer on staff.

“We have a lot of designers that we work with in Memphis,” said Montgomery. “Business picked up very quickly in Memphis.”

Montgomery said Memphis also had a need for upholstery services and Blu D’or Interiors filled that gap through its association with Lee Industries, a family owned, American made upholstery company. The store is the only retail site in Memphis for Lee Industries and is the primary upholstery line of the Jonesboro store as well. Both showrooms allow customers to select from a range of high quality furniture and choose from a large selection of various colors, patterns and fabrics to complete their upholstery purchase.

“We think buying quality pieces is really important,” said Montgomery. “Quality is really hard to see because it’s what’s on the inside, not what you see on the outside.

“Our theory is to build on your pieces. Invest in a couple of good pieces along the way. You don’t have to do everything at once. You can mix things along the way and have a really great look, but invest in your larger items so they will last for a long time.”

Montgomery said she encourages customers to update the look of their homes with simple changes such as pillows, rugs and changing out lighting to get a fresh, new look.

“Lighting is kind of like jewelry for your home,” she said. “Rugs can make a huge difference, too.”

The Jonesboro and Memphis stores carry original art pieces by various local and regional artists including Sean Shrum of Jonesboro, Sarah Robertson of Memphis and Lois Arrechea of Oxford, Miss.“I feel like we keep it traditional with upholstered pieces, but give it a more updated, edgy look with lighting, art pieces and accessories. And Leigh knows all of the artists,” said Cindy Paul,
staff member at the Jonesboro location. “Leigh is great at buying really great items. Items that are really unique, but can fit so many different spaces.”

At the Jonesboro location, a side of the business that continues to grow has been Annie Sloan products that allow customers to custom paint their own pieces. Blu D’or Interiors recently brought Brandon King on staff to hold paint classes and to create pieces for customers.“Brandon has classes several times a month. He currently has been doing beginner classes, but soon will get into advanced techniques,” said Montgomery. “He will also do custom painting. You can bring it in or he can go to your house to paint pieces for you.”

Montgomery said they also offer private classes for groups who want to have a paint party with a minimum of six people in a class.“It’s so easy to use and it’s such a great way to update your pieces quickly and easily,” she said of custom painting furniture with the store’s Annie Sloan products. “The idea of being able to do it yourself is pretty new.”