First things first: Most of us cannot afford to shop at Mrs. Howard’s.
Unless you’ve just won the lottery, or happen to be the beneficiary of a lovely inheritance, the high-end furniture, accessories and linens showcased in this impeccably elegant design emporium, located just outside of Avondale at 4128 Herschel Street, are just plain out of reach. Mrs. Howard’s is unquestionably one of the premier home stores in the Southeast, and its prices reflect the rock-star status of its owners, interior designers Phoebe Howard and James Michael Howard.
But even if you have to leave your wallet at home, it’s well worth your while to explore Mrs. Howard’s and its slightly more affordable offspring, Max & Company (the side-by-side stores are connected through interior doors). There’s simply no better place in Jacksonville to soak up design inspiration and feed your passion for beautiful personal spaces. (And those of you who are savvy about design will undoubtedly take away ideas about how to rearrange your furniture, how to select sophisticated new wall colors that will totally revamp a room, and how to display that cool object you discovered at Fans and Stoves to maximum effect.)
Founded in 1995 by Phoebe Howard, the store began as a place where her husband Jim’s clients could find elegant and interesting pieces for their homes. But as Phoebe’s own design instincts developed and she began taking private clients, the space evolved into a reflection of her uniquely Southern decorating style–something she characterizes as, “Keep it pretty.” In room after beautifully appointed room (don’t forget to check out the incredible moldings), modern pieces mix with antiques, colors are soothing and softly neutral, and stunning accessories such as starburst mirrors and William Yeoward crystal dot shimmering surfaces and unexpected nooks. The atmosphere is timeless and yet modern—just what you’d want for your own house if you had a couple extra zeroes in your bank account.
Max & Company, opened in 2000, has a looser and more youthful design aesthetic. Here the feeling is upscale beach house, with lots of comfy, slipcovered furniture, sculptural lighting fixtures and appealingly tactile accessories like porcupine quill boxes, driftwood mirrors and mercury orbs. There’s also a standout collection of bed linens on offer and an array of gorgeous chrome hardware for the bath.
Clearly, the Howards are doing something right, because sixteen years and four locations later (Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlanta and Charlotte), their stores—and legions of fans–have extended far beyond Jacksonville. A true GoLO success story, the couple has seen their work featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Coastal Living, Cottage Living, Southern Accents, InStyle and Traditional Home. (The two were also commissioned by House Beautiful to create the Designer’s Vision apartment in one of Manhattan’s newest luxury apartment high rises. Inspired by the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give,” this is one gorgeous place–what design aficionados memorably term “house porn.”)
Mrs. Howard’s may be out of reach, but it’s not out of touch. Despite its unabashed elegance, the store’s soft, lush, dreamy interiors are inviting and warm—and so its staff. It’s the perfect place to feather your nest . . . presuming you’ve got a couple of golden eggs to display.