South End's Finest

Skip Hickory and High Point—South End has a selection of home goods that rival the Piedmont furniture capitals

Charlotte may be known as a banking city, but historic South End has emerged as a hotbed for home design, complete with Oscar de la Renta textiles, hand-colored lithographs, and sexy red chaise lounges. With furnishings from far-flung locations like the shores of Myanmar and the flea markets of India, the neighborhood offers pieces that are truly global. Or keep it local with furniture from Barn Wood Classics, handcrafted by Charlotte artisans. Whatever your aesthetic may be, there’s something to suit you (and your style) in South End.

a b o d e

If you’re looking for design consultation, owner Mary Tobias Miller offers some of the best services in town at no cost. She may guide you to a painted dining table ($1,550) or a mirrored coffee table (starting at $1,250) from the transitionally decorated abode showroom. Or if you’re frustrated by your search for the perfect club chair, look no further: abode will order custom pieces based on Tobias’s design specifications. Don’t miss the back room, devoted entirely to fabric swatches and upholstery from designers of the ADAC center.  201 W. Worthington Ave., 704-332-3731

Barn Wood Classics

After a few stressful years managing a Napa Valley winery, Jonathan Kauffman wanted a change of pace. He began to experiment with wood building and, in tandem with sister Katy Boak, opened Barn Wood Classics. Here, furnishings are handcrafted and stained by Kauffman and his crew of artisans. Most items are fashioned from antique pine reclaimed from Pennsylvania tobacco barns that were built a century ago. Once the wood is removed, it’s dried for two years, finally emerging as gorgeous floor panels or a sturdy farm table (starting at $1,000). Custom options are extensive. Add a hutch to your desk or commission taller bedside tables (starting at $400) to suit a room with high ceilings. You choose the wood’s thickness and the stain for each piece. Bonus: Kauffman has access to chestnut, a wood that’s been rare in the United States since the 1930s. 120 W. Worthington Ave., 704-333-0339,

Boulevard Home Furnishing Bazaar

Save or splurge at this 25,000-square-foot warehouse off Griffith Street. Aside from the exquisite barrel roof, the cavernous showroom is pared down, allowing the goods to command full attention against whitewashed brick walls. Find overstock and showroom samples from high-end furniture lines such as Heirloom and Highland House. The longer an item is on the floor, the deeper the discounts—markdowns can climb to 90 percent. Recently, a setting of Oscar de la Renta lattice chairs sold for $600 each, while the designer’s radial table is currently on the showroom floor for a cool $10,500. Best of all? Browse more than forty bins of upholstery fabrics from designers like Century, starting at $1 a yard. 3021 Griffith St., 704-527-4223,

by design

By design favors furnishings that are super functional and ultramod. Fall in love with the versatility of the swanky suede sofa bed by Kiel ($398), and by design’s glass night table with adjustable height ($118). Serve meals with ease using the innovative Enya dining table ($498), complete with Lazy Susan for passing around large platters. Other pieces are pure fun, like the futuristic UFO circular lounger in white leather ($1,498) or bright, shapely pottery by Royal Hoeger (prices range from $39 to $200). Or score some great designer knockoffs. Eyeing those Barcelona chairs at Design Within Reach but can’t spare a staggering $4K? A similar model, called the Madrid chair, is available at by design for just $698. And DWR’s popular Noguchi table is a hefty $1,300, but BD has an excellent reproduction for just $498.  2130 South Blvd., 704-342-4600,


Boasting affordable furniture and quirky accessories (like an artichoke-shaped candle holder, $4), EQ3 quickly became a South End staple. Customize upholstery on versatile pieces like the sculptural Crush chaise lounge ($499) with any of EQ3’s leathers or fabrics. Try it in Vino Bella, a deep red hue, or stick with traditional pieces, like the Magnolia bedroom collection, made from dark mahogany with nickel hardware. The collection’s carved wooden slat bed ($599) is refreshingly sleek and simple. Add some edge with a graphic-print duvet set, starting at $80. 2137 South Blvd., 704-334-0200,

The Inspired Home

When Jennifer Carwile moved to Charlotte in 2005, she scoured the city for an eco-friendly furniture emporium, to no avail. So she opened The Inspired Home, a 10,000-square-foot warehouse offering furnishings that are functional and sustainable. Carwile curates her South End space with products made from reclaimed wood or other recycled materials, so you’ll find Bauhaus upholsteries, woven from bio-based soy materials rather than petroleum products. Or discover earthy, off-beat pieces such as bookshelves from India made from carved wooden door frames (starting at $1,295). Furniture is reasonably priced, too: score a table setting with eight chairs for less than $4,000. 2517 Distribution St., 704-837-7492,

Interiors Marketplace

Here, naturalists will find plenty of furnishings to echo the earth, sea, and sky. Walter Anderson himself would snap up delicate, ceramic coral ($39), antique herbariums (prices vary), and elegant sea fans framed with reclaimed barn wood ($195). The marketplace is divided into several vignettes, each designed by individual vendors. Yet it still functions as a whole, unified by an earthy style that reflects nature’s bounty. An old turtle shell on a mahogany stand ($32) and an English wooden deer head ($1,500) from the early twentieth century serve as charming reminders of the great outdoors. Plus, there’s an alcove full of antique prints, matted and ready for framing, such as hand-colored lithographs from a seventeenth-century natural history book (from $65) and gorgeous charcoal nudes from the 1920s and 1940s ($45-$95). 2000 South Blvd., 704-377-6226  

Neal Johnson Ltd.

Neal Johnson’s eclectic antique collection spans the globe. This year alone she’s traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe, adding exotic pieces to her inventory from each locale. Recently, Johnson scored a pair of eighteenth-century watercolor paintings in their original gilded frames ($8,500 for the pair) from a Manhattan home decorated by Parish-Hadley, the duo who revamped the Kennedy White House. Other noteworthy finds include blue and white Italian Albarello earthenware jars (starting at $1,000) and a lamp fashioned out of an eighteenth-century teapot ($2,700 without the shade). You won’t have to look far to find the perfect topper for this unique light fixture. The store offers hundreds of shades, in every shape, style, and proportion. 601 S. Cedar St., Suite 205-B, 704-377-1099,

Olde World Reclamation

Devastated over a cracked armoire or a busted antique table? Relax. Bring broken furnishings and artwork to the Olde World restoration shop, and they’ll come back in mint condition. Torn paintings can be restored for as little as $100, while furniture repairs run the gamut from $75 to $1,500. Here you can also commission custom furniture. Cut a picture from a magazine or bring in a model and have it built to your specifications. In the showroom, six vendors sell their wares, while owner Charles Kullmann supervises to ensure all pieces are heirloom quality. Most furnishings are traditional English, but find a wide array of French clock faces ($250-$350) to refresh an old grandfather clock. Or invest in garden statuary, made from heavy stone and imported from England ($1,000 and up).  1700 Camden Rd., 704-373-4098,

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall

With a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and more than 200 dealers, the recently relocated Sleepy Poet Antique Mall seems to offer everything but the kitchen sink. Upscale treasures like Waterford crystal goblets ($26 each) and nineteenth-century Wedgwood teapots ($110) keep company with abandoned bowling trophies and suitcases overflowing with evening gloves and shawls. An extensive vintage clothing collection might appeal to the younger set, while couples can peruse Mill Stream china or a lovely hanging pot rack ($150) made of rustic old metals. If you’d rather not pick through the rubble, try eBay. The store occasionally sells under the moniker sleepypoetstuff. 4450 South Blvd., 704-529-6369,

Spenzac Interiors

If Studio 54 exploded inside of Ernest Hemingway’s study, it would look a little like Spenzac Interiors. Bold, abstract paintings adorn the walls while blown-glass chandeliers glitter from the ceiling. Yet cozy animal-print rugs (starting at $600) and plump pillows made with Tibetan wool ($235) keep things from feeling too futuristic. The modern mecca also boasts pieces from Thumbprint and Phillips Collection, vendors that only sell to the trade. 1440 S. Tryon St., 704-333-0567,

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