International Check-In

International Check-In: Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte, NC – nestled in the northeastern corner of North Carolina, this city named for Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) is an interesting mix of financial centre (Bank of America and Wachovia) and furniture trade (near the epicentre of furniture manufacturing, Highpoint, NC).

I recently spent the holidays here with my friend Meaghan and her family. Meaghan, a former Torontonian, is a fellow freelance writer and has been my partner in crime while checking out design stops in the Queen City. If you love opulent, traditional design, then any chain store or shopping mall will accommodate—if you’re looking for distinctly modern or vintage/antique, Charlotte has some unique gems.

In the Dilworth area of Charlotte, definitely stop at the orange door of Sticki Rice, above, to get your fix of Asian design. The shop’s antique cabinets, benches and art pieces would add a unique touch to any home, and although some pieces are expensive, smaller accessories are priced at less than $60: small reclining Buddha figurines, green, blue or red patterned ceramic plates, bowls and pots, brightly coloured textiles or handpainted wooden or rattan boxes. The antique Chinese lacquer boxes and carved teak and rosewood pieces are my personal weaknesses.

Another modern inspiration is City Supply Co., above, in Plaza Midwood. Streamlined three seater sofas, oversized shell chandeliers, fabric and glass lanterns, sleek club chairs, modern floral diptych paintings, contemporary area rugs and luxe curtain panels are in abundance. I saw nothing in the store over a $1,000, (even the largest sofa and storage unit!).

Since moving to Charlotte two years ago, another friend, Carolyn, has fallen for a number of great consignment shops, go-to-spots for many local designers. Several stores list a starting price but the longer an item stays on the floor, the lower the price drops in predetermined increments. Southend Antiques was chock a block with lots of lighting, furniture and accessories, and I spotted the gorgeous pair of lamps (lead pic) for $350. If you’re lucky enough, in a couple of weeks the price drops below $300.

Century Vintage, left, on Central Avenue stocks a witty mix of furniture, clothes and pop culture artifacts from the 1950s-70s; a grey suede storage bench was a steal at $199. Down the street is Hong Kong Vintage, with more of a focus on mid-century items, as well as a love for 60s textiles and accessories for the home. The Clearing House is filled to the rafters with consigned items for every room in the home, from a faux-Fortuny light (less than $200) to a handpainted hutch for $125.

Before I left Charlotte, I headed downtown—big bank buildings and interesting public sculpture (this is where I spotted Queen Charlotte, below left). Definitely worth a visit, the downtown branch of the Mint Museum of Art and Design is dedicated to craft – ceramics, glass and textiles. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside, but this beautiful Dale Chihuly sculpture in the entrance, below right, gives you a good idea of what’s inside—items are unique, colourful and a bit sassy. I loved the way the security guard patted my hand, called me “Honey” and told me I couldn’t take photos.

Before I head back home to snow-bound T.O., I’m hitting one more stopover, a very southern city with strong nautical influences and a design scene that’s steeped in history. Stay tuned . .

published on StyleNorth http://stylenorth.ca/blog/2009/01/international-check-in-charlotte-nc/

photos:  Charlotte design shops, January 2009 by WH

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One thought on “International Check-In

  1. We’re always happy when out of town guests enjoy The Mint Museum. You’ll have to come back when the expansion opens in fall 2010 and see more of the craft collection on display and part of the art museum is moving uptown.

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