Renovation expert films episode with downtown Florence design duo


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O’harra Mellette Interiors with TV Designer Nicki Huggins
Gracelyn O’harra Elmendorf, far left, and Liz Mellette Andrews, far right, chat with Nicki Huggins Monday morning during a break in the filming of an episode about O’harra Millette Interiors, an interior design studio slated to open in May. The North Dargan Street business got a big boost from Quick-Step flooring, which provided free flooring and installation and is filming an episode for its website about the renovation hosted by Huggins, an expert on renovation who appears on HGTV, A&E and the nationally syndicated “Fix it and Finish it.”

O’Harra Mellete Interiors, a new design studio on North Dargan Street, got a huge boost from Quick-Step flooring, which has donated its product and is filming the installation with renovation expert Nicki Huggins, the lead designer on the syndicated “Fix It & Finish It” program. Owners Gracelyn O’harra Elmendorf and Liz Mellete Andrews will also welcome Huggins back when the studio opens some time in May and Quick-Step will feature an episode of the entire process on its website.
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Posted: Monday, April 11, 2016 9:15 pm
BY JOE PERRY Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. – A soon-to-open design studio on North Dargan Street is getting a huge boost with free flooring and a web episode featuring a renovation expert you might have seen on HGTV.
“I just have to pinch myself,” Liz Mellette Andrews said late Monday morning after she and business partner Gracelyn O’harra Elmendorf took a break from filming all morning.
“I wish I could win a floor,” joked Nicki Huggins, lead designer for the nationally syndicated show, “Fix It & Finish It,” which promises and delivers renovations in a day.
O’harra Mellette Interiors’ new location was buzzing with activity on Monday that will continue today as Huggins and a film crew shot footage of Quick-Step flooring being installed in the 1,400-square-foot space. They also plan on interviewing Andrews and Elmendorf as well as Mayor Stephen Wukela and Ben Zeigler, who will talk about historic preservation, downtown redevelopment and the history of Florence and North Dargan Street.
Two years ago at the High Point Market in North Carolina’s furniture and design mecca, Andrews and Elmendorf met Michelle Corley of Quick-Step flooring. Corley took a quick liking to the design duo.
“I just love their story as best friends and design partners,” Corley said. “It’s just a fabulous story.”
Corley said her company made the flooring donation, as there’s interest in downtown’s roaring comeback as well as learning more about the two women and how they approach their profession. Having an expert such as Huggins help tell the story’s before, during and after aspects for an episode that will be featured on the company’s website was a no-brainer, she said.
“They personally love and have a passion for their work and seeing downtown’s renewal is really interesting,” Corley said. “The big draw is their personal sense of style that they call comfortable elegance. They’re such a delight – just wonderful women.”
Capturing the process of transformation is the gist of the episode, Corley said, noting that Huggins will return for more filming when the studio opens its doors in the near future.
Andrews and Elmendorf both said the filming they’d done thus far was fun and exciting.
“For us, it’s such a positive move to get all our supplies in one place to make life easier and to have a place for our clients to come and see all our inventory,” Andrews said.
Just before taking a lunch break, Elmendorf said, “It’s been a journey.”
“I never in my life thought I’d be doing something like this,” she said.
The design business requires a lot of energy, said Elmendorf, who likened it to “solving a Rubik’s cube constantly.”
No stranger to working out solutions, Huggins said she’s on hiatus from “Fix It & Finish It,” and said the No. 1 question people ask is, Did they really do a renovation in one day?
“We really did it in a day,” said Sam Pietsch, the director of photography for the show who is also at the helm for this project.
“We love this,” Huggins said. “To be able to do what we do and work with (parent company) Mohawk (Industries) and Quick-Step has been great.”
She also feel strongly about redevelopment, which she called an “an American story.”
“Coming from California, it looks like a movie set,” said Huggins, referring to the construction downtown. “Florence is great. We love the South and the opportunity to get to come back and work in the South.”
Zeigler, an attorney with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A., said Monday afternoon that he probably will film his segment today. He has been involved for years with downtown’s revitalization and currently serves as president of the Florence County Historical Society.
“It’s a good story, as the thrust of downtown redevelopment is aesthetic in nature,” he said. “It’s a great nexus there – a new business engaged in creating new spaces but also focused on doing it in a way that is respectful of historical character and making that preservation distinctive. It’s kind of a microcosm of what the whole historical rehab process has been.”
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