(John, Jennifer and Kenny Rabalais)
Kenneth and Jennifer Rabalais
As Kenny Rabalais and his wife, Jennifer, drove over the Causeway from the New Orleans’ Plant Gallery, we chatted about the concept behind their new location, Home and Garden, A Plant Gallery Store, in Covington. “Time is so limited for people,” Kenny says. “Instead of going to a nursery, a high-end gift store, a furniture store, a florist, they can make one stop and come to us.”
Describing Home and Garden as more of a “lifestyle center” than a traditional furniture store, Jennifer says: “ People tell me that our store is their Sunday meeting place. They browse, check out our accessories, our books, pieces for the garden, and then they go to lunch. It is a destination.”
“It’s also about a relationship with someone you know,” Kenny says of his approach, which keeps customers coming back time and again. “Our average customer comes in nine times a year.”
As a thank you, the store has a preferred loyalty program that gives 5 percent back on all future purchases.
Kenny also likes to give his customers what they want right away. “If someone wants a new kitchen, they want it now,” he says.
Home and Garden has a brand-new 15,000-square-foot warehouse on the Northshore, making it possible to keep a large inventory of items on hand for clients. “Who wants to wait eight to 12 weeks?” Kenny asks, laughing. “Everyone is looking for unique and unusual, and we hope to fill that void.”
To this end, Jennifer handles all the accessories for the store. VIETRI handmade pottery, Annie Glass and Beatrice Ball are just a few of the tabletop pieces available. “We were lucky to get the exclusives on so many of these lines,” Jennifer says.
For example, Atticus tableware was previously only available in New York. “Until now,” Jennifer says excitedly.
(Kenneth Wiles and Ginnie and Jay Reardon)
“I think the rules have been thrown out the window. Couture. Flea market. High and low. Go ahead and mix it up. There is no ‘design with a capital D’ anymore. It is about creating a personalized look. A similar mixing of aesthetics can be found in the current trend toward ‘new-traditional’ design. This is not your mother’s traditional furniture. These are classic pieces reinterpreted. It is comfortable with an edge.”
Kenneth’s picks include a traditional mahogany wood bed by Century framed in stainless steel or Council’s zebra wood cabinet with an orange lacquered interior.
“These are things anyone from 20 to 80 would love,” he says.
Director of Retail Development
“Create a livable sanctuary. If you love it, you should buy it.” That being said, he recommends that clients spend the money on what they are going to use day in and day out. “Don’t cheap out on the sofa,” he warns. “Durability is key.”
Another word of advice –– pick out a “wow piece.” Glamour, texture and originality are all very important in design today. Pointing to a gorgeous Robert Abbey crystal chandelier, Jeffery asks playfully, “In the master bathroom? Why not?” Moving through the showroom, he finds two more perfect accent pieces –– an Aidan Gray aged mirror console that is very ’40s Hollywood and Century’s tufted daybed in champagne velvet. “This is essentially an Old World piece reinterpreted in a modern durable fabric.”
Another trend Jeffery likes is “multiple personality” furniture. “Take a look at this Hickory Chair dining room chair set,” he says. “It is ultra-comfortable. The oversized, upholstered style will keep guests lingering at the table and makes it so versatile you could pull it into to the family room.”