About 15 years ago I was standing in an updated kitchen created by a Worthington couple who worked in the fashion industry when I realized that there was a design vibe that felt very much like an Abercrombie & Fitch store.

A&F has never done home design. But at least one of the homeowners worked at the retailer and, indeed, the clean design applied in A&F stores at the time had trickled down to the kitchen in that 1970s home. Cabinets were white, countertops were made of wooden chopping block, and faucets and door knobs were modern and chic.

Artistic vision—such as that so prominently displayed in many of our feature homes through the years—is important for successful home design. Since that day in the Worthington kitchen, I have grown to believe that Central Ohio is treated with an extra dose of design savviness in the housing renovation market due to the local fashion industry.

One spring day a few years after that experience, I toured an updated Bexley mansion renovated by another couple who met when they were working together at Abercrombie. Again, there were A&F influences throughout the huge space—as well as the picture-perfect backyard landscape.

If I recall, the homeowners had painted the foyer entirely dark gray. (Those were during the days when Ruehl—a failed A&F concept—was opened at Easton and challenged us all to find our way through its dark rooms.)

Some of you may also remember a now closed Granville garden store—refashioned from a former gas station— owned by Keith and Monique Keegan, who have renovated and sold many homes in that Licking County community. Keith started out as a designer at Express, and is a veteran of marketing at both A&F and American Eagle. Monique worked in design during her early years at Lane Bryant, and to this day both continue their work with the Keegan Company, which does project and display design for DSW stores and other retailers, based out of a long-abandoned industrial building they have refurbished along the bike path in Granville. 

Certainly, the design savviness that emerges out of this region is impressive. Interestingly, in Central Ohio we don’t talk about this a lot but in the last couple of years I’ve spoken to a few groups that are fascinated by the influences underway. Most recently, in January about 100 members of the Women’s Club of Powell showed up to discuss.

With all of this in mind, I hope that you enjoy the creativity that we share in this issue of Home & Garden. As always, we much appreciate the generosity of the local visionaries who continually invite us into their homes and gardens, as well as the many advertisers who support this publication in which we celebrate our local creative class.