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Busy, busy days at Summerhouse for Lisa Palmer

She’s an interior designer by day, jazz singer by night. And in between, Lisa Palmer fits in being a business owner, wife, mother and she sings in the choir at her synagogue. A woman with boundless energy and enthusiasm, Palmer puts all she’s got into everything she does, and the results are impressive.

When her family moved to Jackson in 1971, she felt right at home.

“I call myself a Mississippi girl, because I’ve lived here since the sixth grade,” Palmer said. She graduated from Murrah High School in 1977, and then went to the University of Southern Mississippi. “I didn’t go there to major in interior design,” she said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.”

Although interior design wasn’t her lifelong plan and desire, Palmer declares it was kismet. “I loved everything about it and did really well. I knew that I wanted to build a career in interior design.”

When her husband, Mike Palmer, finished his residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Lisa Palmer took a risk and went out on her own.

“I shared space in Fondren with Cindy Walsh, which worked out great for both of us. We shared space and a resource library.” When Herb’s Frame Shop, located next door to their office, went out of business, Palmer made the next step in her career by opening her first retail store. “In 2003, I opened Summerhouse in Herb’s old space because I felt that there was a need for classic, contemporary, sophisticated, clean furniture. I couldn’t find it here for my clients, and, as they say, need is the mother of invention.”

Tragic turn

The store performed well, until a tragic day in January 2005. Walsh’s business caught fire, and Summerhouse received a tremendous amount of smoke and water damage. While it was devastating at the time, in the end, it worked out well for Palmer. “We were looking to expand, and we found space at the new Township at Colony Park, located on the Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland.”

A development of the Kerioth Corporation, The Township is a multi-use development featuring homes, condominiums, offices, restaurants and retail space. “It was the ideal location for Summerhouse,” she said.

Once the plans were drawn and approved, Palmer said that Kerioth completed the work on her new 8,600-square-foot store in 90 days.

The store opened the end of February 2006 with a grand opening celebration complete with live band and catered food.

Today the store has 13 people on staff. “We have four designers, and me, as well as a warehouse manager, two delivery people and support staff. I’m really proud that my son, Brian, is on staff as our creative/marketing expert. It’s been really fun having him here with me.”

Planning expansion

The store will soon expand, adding 2,500 square feet.

“We’ll have more transitional items, which is something our customers have been asking for,” Palmer said. “The new addition will have a very clean, sophisticated look and will feature a large working stone fireplace.”

When she’s not designing fashionable homes in the Jackson area, Palmer can sometimes be heard singing jazz at private parties and local clubs. She and her sister, Nina, also sing in the Beth Israel choir, as well as for bat and bar mitzvahs.

In addition to her son, Brian, Palmer is mother to Max, 16, and Sam, 11.

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