A Perfect Getaway

In 1836, renowned builder William Clendenin Miller began construction on a new home in Barboursville. Today, the famed Miller House is the location of Picasso Salon & Day Spa, Café Bloom & Picasso's Garden.

By Katherine Reasons-Pyles

Picasso

On Barboursville's historic Main Street stands one of the oldest houses in our area, constructed in the mid-1800s by renowned builder William Clendenin Miller. It has served as a home, a post office and an antique shop. It is the setting of numerous Civil War accounts, and, like many homes built in that era, it has its fair share of ghost stories.

But it was when four friends purchased the famed Miller House in 2009 for their new business that the stories really began to unfold.

"A friend of mine grew up in the house next door," said Kriska Adkins, one of Picasso Salon & Day Spa's four owners, "and when we bought this house, he told me it was haunted. He also said that supposedly it was hit by a cannonball during the Civil War. A couple of months into construction, we had to tear out one of the old fireplaces, and when we did, a cannonball rolled out of the chimney. I was like, 'Cannonball? Check. Still no ghosts, though.'"

After the Civil War ended, the house remained in the Miller family for several decades before it was sold. The house was a small antique shop for 25 years before Anna Gibson, Jason Gibson, Kriska Adkins and Connie Nichols purchased it and turned it into a salon, café and garden.

But in spite of the changes the house has endured over the years, it has not lost its historic charm. Almost all of the original fireplaces are intact, and although the cannonball was displaced from its original home inside the wall, it remains a prominent part of the beautiful building. The artifact greets every visitor to Picasso Salon & Day Spa from its new location on the salon's front desk. Undoubtedly, the intriguing past of the Miller House has been preserved – if not restored – by the opening of Picasso Salon & Day Spa.

"Barboursville is such a history-rich place," said Connie Nichols, Picasso co-owner. "The people here are really close-knit, and a lot of the families have lived here for generations. People will come to the salon and tell us stories about this house from when they were children."

As if the story of the house itself isn't enough to attract an extensive variety of clientele, Picasso's four owners have taken great measures to provide every customer with an exceptional experience, ensuring that their guests will return time and time again. The location is home to three separate businesses: Picasso Salon & Day Spa, Café Bloom and Picasso's Garden.

The salon offers a variety of traditional hair styling and nail design services as well as unique treatments like scalp exfoliation and high gloss treatments for customers interested in adding a little shine to a new hairstyle. Picasso is continually expanding the services offered by its day spa; services currently include a Sunlight Sauna complete with relaxing sound therapy, traditional and airbrush makeup application, various styles of massage therapy and facial treatments using Dermalogica skin care products. A soothing steam shower is included with all spa treatments.

Picasso

Adkins said the primary goal among all Picasso employees – including its four hairstylists, four nail technicians, two massage therapists, one aesthetician and two café employees – is to exceed each and every customer's expectations.

"Everybody here loves doing what they do," Adkins said. "We want our guests to come in and feel like we're happy to be here. It doesn't matter if it's the person performing the service or just another person passing by; all of our employees will do everything they can to give our guests a great experience."

"It's not just lip service," Nichols added. "We are a great group of technicians who love what we do – and it shows. Guests constantly comment on how well we all work together and help each other out. It's even clear to our guests how much we love what we do in this wonderful space."

Another unique aspect of Picasso is its café, open for lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and throughout the morning and evening for light snacks. Café Bloom serves sandwiches and salads as well as daily soup and dessert specials. Its signature chicken salad recipe and perfectly portioned cheese and hummus plates not only offer a full retreat for its salon and spa customers but also attract an array of clientele from neighboring communities.

"We knew it'd be a cool idea to have food here, but the café has taken off even more than we imagined," Nichols said. "Many of our café clients have never received any of our salon or spa services; they just love our food."

The third business is Picasso's Garden, which features unique home and garden décor for sale amidst Picasso's winsome landscaping. Adkins managed a landscaping business before joining the ownership of Picasso; she and Jason Gibson completed all of the landscaping work at Picasso themselves.

"While Connie and Anna were getting the salon ready, Jason and I were redoing the backyard," Adkins said. "We dug the pond by hand and used the original, hand-cut foundation blocks in the landscaping."

Gibson, who built the salon's front desk, the retail shelves and much of the garden décor and birdhouses for sale, has three sons with his wife Anna. All three boys – ages 10, 8 and 6 – are involved in sports. At the outset of the planning process, Gibson's dream was to build an indoor sports complex, offering indoor basketball and even indoor baseball, with a day spa for moms of the young athletes.

Picasso

"The timing just wasn't good in this economy," Gibson said, "but it's still something I'd love to do. We're always looking for new ideas, and at some point we'll have to add some sports to our business plan."

New ideas go hand in hand with the Picasso business strategy. From the recently added outdoor manicures and pedicures in Picasso's Garden to a new line of cosmetics and gift items to Botox and other advanced treatments, the salon's four owners are constantly looking for ways to expand their services. Anna Gibson oversees the wide selection of unique gifts and jewelry for sale at Picasso and is always looking for new items to offer.

"We don't want to create this place and have everybody look at it and say, 'Oh, it's really nice,' but then a year later, the same people come back and it looks the exact same," Nichols said. "We want to continually stay with what's new. We're working on our wine license so that we can offer a glass of wine with our spa services. We've talked about doing massages out in Picasso's Garden. We have a lot of ideas. And every day, we're working on turning those ideas into realities."

Nichols said Picasso never plans to be "some far-out crazy trendy place," but she, Adkins and the Gibsons are always working toward a "nicer, even more relaxing environment."

"We constantly try to think outside the box," Nichols said. "In this business, there are a lot of people doing it inside the box. We want to offer a retreat from the world that feels like you're in a bigger city. We offer things that may be a little difficult to pull together, but we're willing to do what it takes to bring these things here to the Huntington area."

For more information about the services and treatments available, or to reserve Café Bloom or Picasso's Garden for a special event, call Picasso Salon & Day Spa at (304) 733-1070.

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