“We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”  These words, spoken by Winston Churchill, are the very words that Jo Ella McClellan  has used to guide her business and shape her focus within the interior design world.  Sitting on the corner of 52nd Street and Charlotte, Jo Ella's store, Surroundings, invites you in with a wide array of eclectic pieces, furnishings and art.  We sat down to talk with Jo Ella to better understand her design philosophy, her store's essence and everything in between.   Thank you so much for talking with us today! Tell us about your design philosophy. To help people take ownership of their home. That is why Winston Churchill's famous words resonate so deeply with me. I took that same philosophy with interiors:  your surroundings -- we might shape them, but thereafter they should shape you and how you live in your house. What led you into the field of interior design and home furnishings? About seven years ago a dear friend and local designer took me under her wing and mentored me. Although I am not formally trained, she gave me the confidence to follow my passion. Helping people find their own voices regarding the designs of their homes makes me excited to go to work every day.

(Jim McGee)

Your store has so many unique, original items! Every piece in the store is refurbished, reinvented or renewed. From the beginning, I have tried to use Surroundings as a way to showcase local artists and artisans and insert my own vintage finds as well.   About two years ago, it started as more of a gallery that was only open when we would have artists showing their work for a few days. Gradually, the store remained opened for more days at a time until we decided to keep it open full time. While I have a lot of furniture and lighting, the most consistent sellers are art and accessories. The store is a great place to pick up a little something, be it pillows or a painting, to spruce up your home. What would you define as your signature style and is that reflected in your pieces you sell?  I look for pieces that would fit into any style of home, but would add an element of surprise and whimsy. I am drawn to midcentury modern design, as well as pieces with tribal, industrial and natural influences. I love lighting, and frequently have lamps made from found objects. I stock the store with items that have history – that were made, used, and loved by people who owned them before we did.

(Table with limestone top: Larry Stone)

(Julie Sola)

(Cooper Grey)

Do you have any favorites that are currently in your store? I love this tufted sofa! It came to me in a bright, tomato red color.  I took this old piece and modernized it with a neutral velvet. It can go in a modern or traditional home and it is a piece that has a real history to it. And this is one of two slipper chairs.  They were an 1890’s parlor set. Originally, they were covered in a pale blue velvet. The tufting on the bottom is original to the chair.  I focused on keeping the simplicity to the chair as a way to pay homage to the past but still have an updated look.  I think these would look great in a man’s study, for example. Thank you for talking with us Jo Ella! We wish your store much success! (*Note: the store is right on the corner of Charlotte and 52nd and the outside of the building says "5200 Interiors")  

Jo Ella McClellan -- Surroundings

5200 Charlotte Pike / Nashville, TN 37209


(All photos courtesy of Interior Canvas)

Interior Design Nashville