Barrie Benson’s Guide to Charlotte, NC

June 21, 2019

Barrie Benson is one of the South’s most talented and in-demand design dynamos. We asked her to dish about her favorite sources and spots in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina—find out what she spilled here.

Photography by Francesco Lagnese

What are your favorite sources in Charlotte for home accessories?

Charlotte has great options for home accessories. Some of our favorites include BD Jeffries, Mrs. Howard and Isabella. Each of them really has its own identity, and they all do a fantastic job of stocking unique pieces and telling a distinct story. I’ve been shopping at BD Jeffries since I lived in Atlanta—they are so kind and helpful. My team and I love their throws for that finishing touch that connects a room. Mrs. Howard carries Giacometti-style plaster floor lamps that are great to add to a room at the last hour when we realize that we have a dark spot. We love a well-lamped room! Their garden stools add a pop of color to a space and a place to rest a drink (make sure the top is flat for the klutzy guest). Isabella has all the things to make a guest room and bath beautiful—we stock up on soaps by Compagnie de Provence and Claus Porto (as gorgeous as macaroons, with no calories), and the Rebecca Atwood bedding that we favor for our beach-house installs.

Rebecca Atwood Shell Duvet Cover in Blush, rebeccaatwood.com

How about your can’t-miss spots for finding vintage and antique pieces?

We source vintage furniture from all over the country and Europe, but locally we also love Slate Interiors. Slate represents a handful of great dealers, and it’s our go-to for those pieces that add a final layer and make all the difference in completing a home. Another hometown favorite is Darnell & Company—Stuart, the owner, has a terrific eye for midcentury items, especially art.

A pair of vintage chairs from Slate Interiors, shopslateinteriors.com

From a cultural perspective, what’s your favorite public space in Charlotte, and why?

The Bechtler Art Museum, which was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta. It currently houses the Bechlter family’s very robust collection of midcentury European art and furniture. One area that Charlotte could improve upon is building and preserving iconic buildings. The Bechtler is certainly one that will withstand the test of time. I love the terracotta façade, and the galleries are wonderful for taking in the different collections.

Alexander Calder, ‘Glacier with Coloured Petals,’ 1971. Bechtler.org

From a decorating perspective, what’s your favorite public space in Charlotte, and why?

The Duke Mansion, which is a 1915 residence that now houses a hotel and events space and is nestled in the middle of one of Charlotte’s prettiest neighborhoods. The interior architecture and scale of the rooms are stunning, and the spectacular gardens were designed by Laurie Durden, a dear friend of mine and an accomplished landscape architect. I recommend staying here to all my friends coming to town.

Duke Mansion, dukemansion.com. Photography by Kristin Byrum Photography

Please fill in the blank: I love living in Charlotte and it feels like home because_______.

One of my favorite things about Charlotte is that you’re able to drive through lovely tree-lined neighborhoods to get almost anywhere, sans highways! And it’s centrally located, so it’s easy to get to the coast and to the mountains. But really, having my family here is what makes it feel like home. My entire family is from North Carolina, so my roots are definitely here. And there’s a real sense of community and friendship within Charlotte, and in the South in general, especially in the design community. I’m lucky to have a group of very smart business women and mothers in Charlotte who have been a great network for me.