Why This Charlotte Designer Is Going Back To Her Antiquing Roots


Artwork by Cindy Smith depicting stone sculpture of a cherub grabbing an ancient soldier’s spear

In 1979, Cindy Smith launched an antiques business that blossomed into one of the most beloved design brands in the Southeast. After passing ownership of Circa Interiors & Antiques to her children last year, Smith unveiled Circa II Antiques in January (simultaneously debuting a new design firm, Smith Interior Design). Soon, she had happily ramped up her number of annual buying trips, particularly to the French fairs. And although Smith’s curated finds will still sell in both the Birmingham and Charlotte locations of the original Circa, she’s also debuted a new showroom for Circa II Antiques—found on Providence Road in Charlotte—plus an e-commerce site. Below, she shares the scoop.

After so many years in the industry, why was it time for Circa II Antiques? I’ve noticed a resurgence of interest in antiques, which were always my first love. Things are changing; I think people are starting to seek true investment pieces with interesting attributes. I have all this experience, and I wanted to share that wisdom—while also providing designers with a great, curated selection. 

You seem to understand exactly what those clients need. We’re designer-oriented; we know their challenges and how to be a good resource. We keep an eye out for them; I go on trips with a long list and try to come back with as many things on it as I can. Because as a designer myself, I see things from their perspective. 

What’s your sourcing secret? When looking for antiques, you see the good, the bad, the ugly. But my eye has been trained to find the unique. I always search out the best from every period—whether a 17th-century refectory table or a midcentury Italian travertine console. The pieces I seek were special and unusual from the very beginning. They’re the sort of antiques that make a whole project.