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A Weekend in Charleston: Upper King Design District

October 13 Design & Discover Walk |  Jennifer Collins Photography

October 13 Design & Discover Walk |  Jennifer Collins Photography

One of my favorite things about having visitors is taking them to Upper King Street to just walk and walk, especially now that this beautiful fall weather is upon us!  I think a lot of tourists fail to really venture north of Marion Square,  missing out on many of my favorite restaurants (Barsa, Hom, Rarebit, etc.).  More and more interior retailers are also working their way up King Street, joining the hub of design and creativity that is known as the Upper King Design District.  On your next visit downtown, don't miss out on these Charleston shops that have unique gifts and both modern and antique home decor.   Locals, be sure to mark your calendar for October 13 from 5-8pm.  This will be the perfect time to explore sales/special art exhibits/pop ups at the stores below, along with 9 other shops in the area for the Design and Discover Walk.  Check that link for more information, and take your own stroll to these stores the next time you're on Upper King using this neat map from Kristen Solecki.

AIM on King

648 King Street | website

The next time you are done grabbing coffee at The Daily, you have to head around the corner to the Antique and Interiors Market! You can shop over 15 booths from fabulous vendors like Building Art Workshop, Rogue, and David Kinard, and you might even run into the adorable shop dog Mae!  If you aren't in the market for furniture, you'll still discover decor accents, artwork, and plenty of gift items (candles, books, plates, etc.).  Sometimes you can just when tell a place has good vibes, and I would say at AIM it has a lot to do with the owners and delightful staff.  Half of the duo of owners/sisters, Mary Stewart (I mean who doesn’t love a double-named southern lady!?), is a peach of a gal who will hoist a ladder your way and to turn a Sputnik on for you in a heartbeat.

Objective Design Shop

525 King Street (upstairs) | website 

I’m a lover of anything mod, so this store was worth the visit to me just for a peek at the interior.  Super cool clocks adorn the wall when you walk in, and dozens of fun gifts and design accessories are sprinkled throughout the exposed bright and open space. The store owners, Lindsey Windham & Nate Justiss, have their own brand (Distil Union) that was launched from a Kickstarter campaign. You have probably heard of their Stanley Stands for phones or Wally Wallets, which are both sold in store. This cool union of friends has launched 6 Kickstarters so far, and I bet there will be more fun stuff coming from them in the future.  The fact that they have combined their workspace with their curated store makes it that much more awesome.  Those hustling entrepreneurs are busy working away while you shop their designs, as well as the creations of other great businesses they have discovered mostly while traveling.  The space itself even spawns from travels; the look of the store is inspired by NYC museum gift shops & Hong Kong design boutiques.


The Southern Gallery

2 Carlson Court | website

I knew I loved this place after I saw the exterior that makes me think I could be in the Wynwood area of Miami.  Luckily for Charlestonians, it’s actually nestled on Line & Meeting.  When you walk in it feels like a space where a hip party is just begging to happen, but for now there are rotating art installations.  The current exhibit, “Take Me Away”, features the work of Jamea-Richmond Edwards.  It could be hard for art not to get swallowed in this space, but Take Me Away has plenty of life-size pieces that shine in The Southern.  No matter who is on display, I will probably keep coming back for the fabulous wallpaper found in the hall closet and bathroom.  I can’t wait to make this a regular #CharlestonDateNight spot to have on standby come rain or shine!

Mitchell Hill

438 King Street | website 

I think most locals have walked past this store dozens of times and smiled at the sight of the fancy but fun piggy banks posted up in the front window.  Those and the interesting artwork on display have always drawn me inside to browse.  One of my favorites is the work of Philip Durst; he's a practicing attorney who whips up amazing patterned art from discarded materials like candy wrappers!  You can find plenty of fun gifts & accessories here, too.  They have everything from Assouline coffee table books to quirky or classy shelf decor.

While I've always loved the MM gallery/design store, I only recently discovered their design center.  As I continue to expand my offerings for designer discounts to my interior decorating clients, I was so thrilled to join the MItchell Hill trade program.  Their wallpaper and upholstery selection is gigantic and gorgeous and I'm itching to go back to explore more. 

I think we are all even more appreciative of the gorgeous October ahead of us after Hurricane Matthew's weekend visit, so I am really looking forward to checking out Thursday's event. Charleston is back open and begging to be explored!

Follow along on Instagram for more design walk details: Objective Design Shop, Mitchell Hill, AIM on King, & The Southern Gallery, & Charleston Weekender.

All images by Jennifer Collins Photography