Retail Therapy

Interior designer Janie Molster branches out from the residential realm.

For 25 years, interior designer Janie Molster has left her mark on Richmond’s homes. From clean-lined contemporary to classic Southern style, Molster is known for creating dynamic and sophisticated spaces with bold statement pieces and thoughtful use of color and pattern. And although residential design is the backbone of her business, Molster’s company has evolved over the years, growing in new, exciting directions as she takes on clients in the hospitality industry and retail realm. 

“It’s fun to mix it up,” Molster says of her diverse clientele. After she decorated Early Mountain Vineyard’s tasting room in Madison, the space was named 2016’s “Best Tasting Room” by USA Today. Molster also transformed the offices of Richmond boutique advertising and communications agency Initiate-It into a hip urban space, and is currently working on the design for the new Kitchen Designworks (KDW Home) showroom, which is slated to open in November in Richmond’s West End.

Molster’s first non-residential interior design project was Nellie George, a Richmond women’s

Dressing room at Nellie George.

Photo by Kip Dawkins

boutique that opened in August 2013. The shop, owned by Nancy Hartt, sells high-end stylish women’s apparel brands like Tibi, Joie, Rebecca Taylor, Cynthia Rowley, Nicole Miller and Calypso St. Barth. After Molster decorated her home, Hartt knew Molster would be the perfect person to help bring her new business venture to life. “I’ve always loved her style so much,” Hartt says of Molster, who also has been a close friend to Hartt’s mother since their college days.

“I wanted something completely different” for the Richmond market, says Hartt. “I wanted to create a bright and happy place for people to come shop and relax in that was appealing both to younger girls and women.” 

Molster chose a neutral backdrop of white and khaki to allow the apparel to shine. H.J. Hotlz & Son stenciled the hardwood floors and a graphic paper was applied to the walls. 

“Sticking with a quiet palette of khaki and white, we felt free to turn up the volume on pattern, so the floors are painted in large geometric pattern and the wallpaper is in an oversized organic motif,” says Molster.

With a subdued foundation, Molster added vibrant blue and pink accents (Hartt’s favorite colors) throughout the space—from the beaded chandeliers to the ikat upholstered seating and patterned pillows. 

Molster drew on her residential experience by adding cozy touches of home—artwork, fur rugs, beautiful pieces of furniture, table lamps and plush intimate seating areas—which created a hospitable atmosphere for shoppers. 

Molster had seating upholstered in durable yet beautiful fabrics that are able to hold up against the wear and tear of a busy commercial space. She also hid the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of the retail space by creating a raised cash register. An oversized mirror behind it is more than a statement piece; it gives shoppers another opportunity to glance at merchandise. To create an enjoyable dressing room experience, Molster added ambient sconce lighting, soft seating and luxurious curtains. 

After she completed Nellie George, the haberdashery Beecroft & Bull reached out to Molster to

give their Richmond storefront in the River Road Shopping Center a facelift. Established in 1958 in Newport News by Moss Beecroft, the family-owned menswear company now has three stores (in Charlottesville, Richmond and Virginia Beach), and is owned by Moss’ youngest son, Craig Beecroft.

Beecroft & Bull was already an established company with an identity reflecting the sophisticated clothing carried in the store (luxury brands like Canali, Brunello Cucinelli, Peter Millar and Robert Talbott), and a customer base of stylish Richmond businessmen. 

Molster was tasked with aligning the look of the store with the company’s persona. Spending time in-store with owner Beecroft and manager Tom Tatum, Molster studied what customers and employees wore and the clothing hanging on the racks. 

“They have a well-heeled conservative look, but also a chic European vibe, which is represented in their retail lines,” says Molster. “In search of adjectives, I kept thinking, of course masculine, but also edgy and luxe, and a little provocative.”

Molster took the apparel that was hanging on the racks and echoed that sartorial vibe through the store. Incorporating a color palette of navy, khaki, black and white, along with leather and wood accents, Molster added texture, depth and sophistication to the store’s décor.

“We needed the store to mirror what we were doing,” says Tatum. “We are more European-driven, and we felt like the store needed updating with sleeker lines. We also wanted people to come in and be able to hang out.”

Sisal flooring was replaced with navy and khaki pattern carpeting, and beige walls were covered with graphic oversized black-and-white houndstooth wallpaper. Shelving, which once displayed merchandise in the windows, was switched out for dramatic floor-to-ceiling navy draperies accented with black-and-white Greek key banding. 

And, in front of the curtains, Molster created a masculine seating area, juxtaposing a midcentury-inspired toffee-colored saddleback leather sofa with rattan swivel chairs with black-and-white upholstered cushions. The inviting arrangement is finished with a vibrant red oriental rug and a sleek wooden coffee table.

Janie Molster

Photo by Maguire Neblett Photography

“Both stores wanted a real experience for the customers. They want shoppers to be treated as clients and they are encouraged to come, sit and hang out for a bit,” says Molster. “We added comfortable seating, coffee tables, custom lighting, carpets and interesting things to look at—artwork, mirrors, lamps, etc.—much like you would layer the interior of a home.”

Beecroft & Bull was also spruced up with homey touches such as a sculptural copper chandelier in the entryway and grasscloth wallpaper to lighten up the dark wood display cases. Photographer Maguire Neblett was commissioned to photograph Richmond landmarks like the Huguenot Bridge, which now hang throughout the store.

“Both of these retailers wanted their stores to offer a window into the owner’s personality and convey a certain lifestyle,” says Molster. “The experience of these bespoke retail spaces is so much different than shopping at a large mall or a big-box store. You come, you soak in the aura of the space, you finger though the beautiful clothes and accessories, you sit down and leaf through a book or a magazine, and you have had an experience that will bring you back.”

This article originally appeared in our Dec. 2016 issue.

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