Story of a House: Charlotte Smith

More is More!

At home with Charlotte Smith

by Jesma Reynolds
photographs by Catherine Nguyen

In Charlotte Smith’s world, more is always better. More art, more accessories, more color, more furniture. The owner of Raleigh’s two-year-old Union Camp Collective sells an unconventional mix of wares out of her large shop/warehouse on West Street. There, her more-is-more approach reigns supreme. Rooms are choc-a-block full of modern vintage furniture, fine antiques, large-scale art, and funky garden sets. It’s also an event space that Smith offers up for parties, film screenings, and other gatherings. The bind that ties it all is a combination of variety and audacity that she applies with skill at her personal residence as well.

On a side street in the University Park neighborhood, Smith’s rental house is a laboratory for experiments in color, arrangement, scale, and style. Ever-changing – price tags remain on most of the furniture and accessories – the rooms are a bricolage of things picked up on buying trips or inherited from family members. The result is a mash-up of motifs, periods, and styles. Furniture pairings are fierce, or, as she’s prone to say about pretty much everything in her house, badass. Within that framework, one might find a chair from India with a Native American headrest beside an antique gilt French side table, or a collection of custom-framed antique fans from her mother lining the walls of the dining room.

It all seems pretty fabulous, but it’s the art she treasures most. Smith claims if a fire did strike and she were forced to grab a favorite piece, she’d likely die inside as she returned over and over to rescue every piece of art. For now, she takes full advantage of her spacious walls to showcase a puzzle-like arrangement of her beloved works. Outsider folk canvases, abstract art, fine landscape paintings, period portraits, three-dimensional works, and vintage metal signs are juxtaposed higgledy-piggledy for a grand effect that defies convention. In Smith’s bold and capable hands, it all works.

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