All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison
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From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

This article is written as part of the “Away From Here” series where All Things Madison branches outside of our city and explores destinations for residents to explore when they want to get “away from here”. Today we’re heading a few miles west of Madison to East Limestone and stopping in at Belle Maison!

Just a few short miles west of Madison alongside HWY 72 towards Athens sits a single-story, navy home on a sizable piece of land. Beautiful dresses of every hue are often found swaying in the wind on the porch, signaling to passersby that this is anything but a private residence.

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Antique rocking chairs as well as a few select pieces of furniture also decorate the front porch, which gives guests just a taste of what they’re about to walk in and discover.

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Welcome to Belle Maison Collection, a new local storefront designed to dress you and your home.

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

The open concept of the building allows for guests to freely flow from room to room piecing through more than a half dozen racks of women’s clothing.

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

The middle of each room as well as the window areas are covered in a mix of trendy but classic furniture and home decor items such as nightstands, dressers, buffets, dish towels, shelving decor, and so much more. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Belle Maison carries a variety of women’s sizes from small through plus sizes. This store is also a one-stop shop for earrings, earrings, and earrings galore!

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Owners Coleman and Lauren Houseknecht also enjoy stocking the store with seasonal items, such as gameday wear as well as happy, unexpected items, such as construction cutlery for children. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Multiple dressing rooms are available and are roomy enough to bring in a haul of all of your beautiful finds to try on.

The entire store strikes a very quintessential Southern vibe with colorful garments, affordable pricing, and an entire shopping experience that feels a bit out of the box and fun due to the stand-alone historic feel of the property itself. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Coleman and Lauren are extremely proud of what they’ve built with Belle Maison, a store that’s the culmination of nearly a decade of sacrifice, hard work, and a love for all things custom furniture and apparel. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

When Coleman and Lauren met at Auburn University, they had no idea the trajectory that was in store for them. After both completing undergrad and Lauren graduating from law school, the two were married in 2012 and made the move to the Huntsville area to work. 

With hopes for children in their near future, Coleman and Lauren eventually purchased a home in Madison after being drawn to the community’s school system and began to grow roots. Both were working around the clock as young professionals and newlyweds, which led Coleman to pick up the hobby of refinishing and painting furniture.

He was originally only working on pieces for their own home in order to achieve the style of home they desired, though his interest eventually grew to create and sell pieces to others as well.

The Houseknechts say that one spontaneous stroll through a now-closed store ended up sending Coleman on a fast-paced journey to full-time entrepreneurship.

“We happened to be out one day and went into the former Cellar Door store on HWY 72, which is now called Blu Boutique,” shares Lauren. The store was comprised of independent vendors who were renting out space to sell their goods. 

“Coleman suggested renting a booth and selling some stuff, so we talked to the owner that day and had ourselves a little 10×10′ space!”

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Coleman and Lauren were thrilled about their new venture together, though knew it would be difficult to increase the time spent on creating inventory and managing the booth on top of their full-time jobs. They made it work though, spending every spare minute working on furniture to keep the booth stocked. 

After a very successful first few weeks at Cellar Door, the Houseknechts decided to open a booth within another store, and then another store. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

“We built a large following really fast,” says Coleman, who shared that customers would often be waiting for his truck to arrive with new pieces and then request to buy them right then and there before he could even place them within the booth. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

With Belle Maison bursting at the seams, Coleman began to contemplate what it would look like to work on this business full-time. He was also consumed with thoughts of their first child on the way, their daughter Retta.

“We realized that it wouldn’t be possible to do all of the things we were doing once we had a baby,” says Lauren, who shares that they also realized that neither of them had flexibility with their current jobs which could be problematic as parents.

So in 2016, just one year after opening their very first booth, Coleman officially left the corporate world and dove into Belle Maison full-time. When he quit his job, his newborn daughter was just two weeks old.

He eventually acquired his warehouse in 2017 which allowed him to fulfill more custom orders that were flying in right and left.

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

“I was booked for a rolling six-month period from there,” he says. “We took this huge leap of faith, and it was awesome.”

By September 2018, Coleman had enough custom furniture to close the Belle Maison booths. He loved fulfilling custom orders out of his warehouse and occasionally participating in warehouse sales and Christmas markets too. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

With business still rockin’ and rollin’ in 2019, Lauren says that the idea of adding women’s apparel to the Belle Maison brand was thrown around during a discussion with Coleman’s sister.

“We decided to just go for it and began introducing clothing at all of the places we’d sell our furniture.”

Belle Maison quickly gathered a loyal customer base for clothing as well, which led them to creating a website and offering online shopping options. 

In March 2021, the Houseknechts were approached about acquiring the precious navy cottage that sat in front of Coleman’s warehouse, and they hopped on it.

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

They officially opened their storefront, the current Belle Maison Collection, in late May 2021 and never looked back.

Since opening the storefront, the Houseknechts have added another addition to the family, their son Hampton. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

With Retta now in 1st grade and Hampton in daycare, Lauren and Coleman are excited to open the storefront two days per week with their sights set on opening more often soon.

Belle Maison is currently open every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Lauren says that offering a store like Belle Maison makes her giddy, and that she hopes shoppers enjoy their time browsing Belle Maison and their revolving inventory.

When asked how Coleman feels about Belle Maison after a busy seven years since conception, he says that “it’s really incredible to see what we’ve accomplished.”

He continues to share that growing it organically has been incredibly fulfilling and has given him a sense of living the true American dream. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

The Houseknechts are excited about what is on the horizon for Belle Maison and are looking forward to new shoppers discovering the store and making it a frequent stop during their travels up and down HWY 72. 

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison

Quick Links for Belle Maison

Shop their website | Follow on Facebook and Instagram | Purchase a gift card 

CLICK HERE TO RECEIVE 10% OFF YOUR NEXT PURCHASE!

BELLE MAISON COLLECTION

27631 US 72 Athens, AL 35613

HOURS: Fridays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

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All Things Madison | From Tiny Rental Booth to a HWY 72 Storefront: The Journey of Belle Maison