The former Armadale Picture Theatre is set to premiere a new look as the Melbourne home of a popular luxury furniture retailer, following a dramatic few years.
Furnishings group James Said will open its flagship store at the historic High St building on April 11 after taking up a lease for the landmark property late last year.
The business is filling the gap left by Paul Sumner’s Mossgreen auction house empire, which went into voluntary administration in 2017.
It’s particularly good news for Melbourne QC John Karkar, considered one of Australia’s top barristers, who bought the historic property a few months before the auction house capitulated. CBRE handled the deal but were unable to comment.
James Said has restored the building as part of an overhaul that will see them fill the entire 1400sq m.
The company’s Perth-based Bethany James (pictured) — known for her Hollywood Regency style — has stores in Perth and Sydney.
The Melbourne store will be four times the size of those.
Ms James said it would function more as a gallery, with interior designers instead of sales staff on hand for customers to talk to.
“We have put $1 million into the shop fit,” Ms James said.
The renovation has also uncovered period details covered over by the previous tenant, and given these complement the classic style of the modern furniture they will be kept on display.
“It’s perfect for us, all of our furniture has a nod to the past,” Ms James said.
“And there’s something special about the building, and if we searched high and low we wouldn’t find something like it.”
Display rooms will feature old-fashioned wainscoting alongside more modern black and white glass.
The upper level will showcase 20 room settings, a digital design hub and a concierge, with champagne or a bite to eat from the ground floor restaurant and wine bar on hand for those who linger.