There have been many instances where I was asked to describe Charleston to a friend or family member who has never visited. It’s easy to lapse into “tourist speak”, as I call it, when trying to relay what makes this city special. Scenic plantations, great food, polite neighbors, nice weather all are pieces of a beautiful mosaic that we call the Lowcountry. Yet, what this city truly reminds me of is a treasure chest.
This wonderful place is filled with experiences, destinations, smells, sounds and people from all over the world. Though Charleston is definitely Southern, it attracts an eclectic mix cultures and point of views. And there are times where that charming combination is found in quaint, special places.
So it’s no surprise that on a beautiful, unseasonably warm day in mid December, I found myself on historic King Street standing in front of such a place, SOM/173 (South of Market, 173 King Street). This narrow, sliver of a showroom is filled, quite literally, from floor to ceiling with one-of-a-kind home furnishings from all over the world. The most notable influences being from Belgium and Paris.
Led by designers Kay Douglass and Dixie Peeples, SOM/173’s aesthetic or style can be described as “Unexpected Chic”. Large scale lighting fixtures and chandeliers are often re-purposed items like steel containers or industrial drums.
While the massive lighting fixtures immediately grab you upon entering SOM/173, the distressed wardrobes and textured armoires are equally awe inspiring. Each item is so unique, it feels as if they are waiting for a special owner whose personality is its perfect match.
The many accent pieces in SOM/173 are simply half the story. Their selection of upholstered furniture is impressive. The sofas are designed with a European flare that includes “clean lines”. While Kay and Dixie are the creative forces behind seating designs, they’ve partnered with North Carolina based Verellen to manufacture their slipcovers for select items. Many of their sofas and armchairs don durable, hand sewn linen that exhibit fine Belgian craftsmanship.
This high-end retailer is just one of many remarkable experiences here in Charleston. This shop is managed by folks who care deeply about the quality of the products on the sales floor and their customers’ experience. As you peruse their selection, you’ll encounter the same warm hospitality you’d get anyplace else in Charleston. You’ll want to leave with an item (or two) for your home that will forever remind you of the treasures found within this city.