Look inside Restoration Hardware's new RH Atlanta design gallery

November 21, 2014

A massive home furnishings store opened today in Buckhead that aims to blur the lines between retail and residential.

On Nov. 21, Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc. (NYSE:RH) revealed its largest store to date — the 70,000-square-foot RH Atlanta, The Gallery at the Estate in Buckhead. It's located across Peachtree Road from the upscale Buckhead Atlanta development, a spot that formerly housed ESPN Zone.

"This is really important to us what we are opening today," RH CEO and Chairman Gary Friedman said Friday as he cut a ceremonial ribbon. "Welcome to our home."

Built to look like a Southern estate, the 6-story design gallery showcases more products than RH has in previous stores.

For example, there are dedicated floors for RH's small spaces and baby/child collections. Other features include an 8,000-square-foot rooftop conservatory with skyline views, and a formal estate garden and reflecting pool where outdoor items are displayed.

"We hope we will be a destination for inspiration," Friedman said during a tour. "Everywhere you look, you should see something beautiful."

In Atlanta, Restoration Hardware previously had locations in Lenox Square mall and near Perimeter Mall (that store closed today).

"Atlanta has been a very good market for us, " Friedman said, calling it "a city that seems like it's going somewhere" due to its rising level of creativity and innovation.

But with the retail landscape evolving due to the rise of e-commerce sales, more retailers are pushing away from traditional enclosed malls — which Friedman called "archaic windowless boxes lacking any sense of humanity" — in favor of street-level locations that let in natural light and feel more authentic. A great deal of attention at RH Atlanta was given to symmetry, sunlight and focal points.

Friedman talked about the impact of the Internet on the retail industry, saying too many companies are focused on the threat of e-commerce, which represents about 8 percent of retail sales today.

"There's a lack of imagination in retail," he said. "We are on to something here. We are not just selling product, we are selling a feeling."