200 First Street News

Since 1996, KMH Design Inc. has been a tasteful staple of the Beaches communities. The brainchild of Kathleen Hines Franza, the design house has been the name behind some of the most beautiful homes at the beach-- and, most recently, the awe-inducing Atlantic Beach Country Club revamp.

So what’s next for a colorfully decorated designer and her staff, you might ask? KMH Home-- the company’s first retail space.

Located in the Courtyard at 200 First Street, the retail space will be filled with all kinds of homegoods, hand-picked to give your home that signature KMH feel. From entertainment aids to luxe linens, there’s a little piece of style for everyone.

To get a feel for what we can expect from the space, and a little background on the designer herself, we chatted with Franza about all things KMH:

Q: When did you first discover your passion for design? Did it come naturally or with a fair share of challenges?

A: Ending up where I am today was never consciously planned, it just happened and to this day it still surprises me. Reflecting back, I realized my mother was a major influence. She had great style and we grew up in a house with Danish modern furniture.  From when I was little she encouraged me to decorate my own room and find my own style.  While I went through many phases I ended up loving a more modern, simple design esthetic. Along the way I had the good fortune to meet many people that helped foster this new found love. After working with still photographer’s then film companies in Miami I moved to Jacksonville to be close to my family. I worked for many years with my brothers in their commercial furniture company when I had the good fortune to meet an architect, who has become my lifelong friend. She gave me my first interior design job and from there, there was no turning back. To date it has been 20 years and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Q: Are there any projects you’ve worked on that you were most proud of or most passionate about?

A: We of course are very proud of ALL of our work but when the architecture is perfect, the location is stunning and the clients are with you all the way then I believe it is easy to be passionate.

Q: How would you describe your design style?

A: Our preference has always been simple, clean but timeless interiors.  Our design style is surely reflected in our interiors however the client’s personality and their lifestyle is the driving force.

Q: What’s your least favorite current trend in design? What about your favorite?

A: Edison bulb light fixtures. Large format tiles that transition from interior to exterior.

Q: How do you balance work with your everyday life?

A: Unfortunately, I am on 24/7 (you did mention passion).  When time allows it is always spent with my family. They help keep me centered.

Q: After years with a successful studio space, what inspired you to venture into retail?

A: Our design offices have always had some sampling of products to showcase our style so after many years we started to discuss the idea of a retail location.  We formulated our concept and began researching locations.  We got close a few times but either the location or the timing just wasn’t right. Then one day all the stars aligned, and the perfect spot opened that allowed us to have our offices AND a retail shop together without compromising a thing. Not to mention the PERFECT location. (Thank you ESJ) We couldn’t be happier.

Q: What are you most excited about and what can we expect from KMH Home in the future?

A: Everything! The response has been overwhelming. The support our clients and colleagues have conveyed has been amazing. We have MANY ideas about how we can be more than just a retail store. It’s all about the experience, the story our products tell and the commitment to helping our customers find their own design style!  We are planning all types of in store events, learning seminars, client appreciation incentives along with gift services. So many things to plan! Stay tuned.

After taking over KYDS Children’s Boutique in 2017, owners and twin sisters Rachel and Melody were on a mission to make the space as fun and magical as can be. Before they knew it, their boutique was bursting at the seams with adorable merchandise—which is exactly why, when given the chance, they jumped on packing up and moving business across the Courtyard.

With the old First Street Gallery space available, they gave the store a speedy overhaul—and thus, the new KYDS was born!

To get a peek into their process, we chatted with them about the vision, doing boutique DIY and more below:

I. What was the main motivator for moving spaces? Were you daunted at all by the task of prepping your new space so quickly?

Our business grew beyond expectations. Consequently, our space could not accommodate growing customer demand. Our store carries 21 sizes in clothing for girls, 18 for boys and 19 sizes in footwear. Customers were increasingly drawn to KYDS because we listened to their requests for more in-demand items. However, the more we offered, the less space we had to display or access needed and desired items.  
We simply did not have the time to be “daunted” or overthink things---nor to even consider the “impossibilities” of such a significant move in such a short time. There were delays in confirming that we could, indeed, move to the new location—that gave us only 10 working days to prepare for the move from the old to the new store. The usual time allotted for such an extensive endeavor is a minimum of two months. We also had to simultaneously maintain our store operations while remaining open everyday. But, together, we have always been determined to overcome any extreme challenges and excessive demands-- despite the major sacrifices and considerable investment.  Also, with Rachel’s experience in interior design and renovations, she drew on her instincts and creative talents to make quick decorating decisions.  When we purchased our store, we knew that failure was not an option—and that is the same way we approached our move.   
Therefore, even though we only had an incredibly short time to make it happen--we knew that by drawing upon each other's strengths, talents, energy and skills--and engaging community support-that the transition to our "New KYDS" would be a joyful and positive experience.  Of course, we didn't sleep much for most of the transitional period with the need to select color schemes, coordinate laborers, order new fixtures and furnishings, paint, renovate and create an entirely new KYDS. But we were basically "unstoppable" --moving full speed ahead. With our tanks on empty we relied on pure adrenaline.


II. What "vibe" were you going for when you designed the store?  How do you hope people will feel when they come inside?
The vibe we are going for is “magical”. Our goal was to make it full of FUN---and comfortable, homey, joyful...like going into a treehouse for a child. We did this by selecting rustic and renewable sources for shelving and mid century modern and retro furnishings, which complimented the elevated wood plank ceiling.  
We want people to feel so good- that it is like an extension of home for them. We want them to enjoy a magical experience in which they don’t want to leave and can’t wait to come back. We have added more comfy chairs for grandparents, parents and friends, which provide a place to relax when looking at merchandise. We also want to cultivate in our store a welcoming atmosphere where we get to truly know our customers—and they enjoy getting to know each other.
III. Tell us a little bit about all the cool DIY aspects in the store that you guys designed yourselves.
Since we didn’t have time to recruit a professional designer in such a short time, we had to rely upon our own creative resources to design the store ourselves which required many DIY projects. It was a family affair where we all helped. But one dear friend, Cristina Ludwig, who is an accomplished commercial designer-- also volunteered to generously give assistance in areas where we truly needed a more professional perspective. It was exhausting work-but truly a fun, rewarding and enlightening process.  
Our favorite DIY was to transform the sales counter into a "sparkly masterpiece."  We used special epoxy resin and glitter to cover the entire counter.  It took much more time- and elbow grease- than we would have liked, but the result was well worth it.  We also designed a multi-layered table to place our expanded toys and accessories area.  We added cedar cut disc shelves and created a "bow wall" so that our hundreds of girl’s bows can be easily seen and accessed.  We also figured out a way to display our necklaces and pendants by screwing hooks underneath the cedar shelves which keeps them from becoming tangled --and also displays them more effectively. We assembled and cleaned industrial pipes, sprayed them with lacquer-- and made them into hanging racks for clothing.


IV. What do you love most about your new spot?
There is nothing NOT to LOVE! It’s just a beautiful space!   It also accommodates our customer flow far better than possible in the other location. We absolutely LOVE the large windows that create a more bright, cheerful and engaging atmosphere-- and are a good place to display merchandise that we were unable to before. We also love having sufficient area to both display and stock inventory throughout. We especially love that customers are able to move around in the store much more easily ---and there’s plenty of room now for strollers!


V. What can we expect for KYDS and the new location in the future?
We are continuing to explore ways to provide the very best in quality children's clothing and accessories- by always listening to customers and keeping up with the most in-demand items.  We are also planning to expand our offerings of candy, toys and treats as we seek to make KYDS a unique, boutique experience.

We are continuing our passionate support of local charities benefiting children in the Jacksonville area. Our Grand Re-Opening event on March 21st will help support the "Kate Amato Foundation."  And, it will also be the "kick-off" for our "Dreams Come True" charity fashion show on April 21st.  Kate Amato's favorite store was KYDS.  She was also one of our KYDS models and "dreamers" that were supported through this annual event that was begun by -and is held in conjunction with --the former owner of KYDS and current owner of Jaffi’s, Emilie Christenson.   

We desire most of all for our store to be THE place for kids--and those who love kids---to gather and shop and create positive lifelong memories for generations to come!

Stop in and check out their cool, new space Monday through Saturday, 10am-6pm or Sunday, 12pm-5pm in the Courtyard at 200 First Street!