A soon as I walk into Sharon Bruner’s furniture consignment shop on upper Meeting Street, I notice several pieces that remind me of the decorating style called modern baroque. When I talk to Bruner, I realize this is no coincidence. One of her inspirations is Dorothy Draper, one of the world’s first professional interior designers and a pioneer of modern baroque, which came to prominence during the middle of the last century.
There’s a certain cohesiveness to Bruner’s collection, no doubt due to the decision rule she follows when accepting consignments: She looks for pieces with “good lines and good bones.” Bruner, who operates the only furniture and accessories consignment shop on Charleston’s peninsula, says that her mission is to offer interesting design at good prices. In a world that’s become increasingly homogenous, Hamilton Consignments proves that beautiful, unique antiques are still to be found.
The cozy space—filled with crystal decanters, chandeliers and antique glass bar carts—sits in a now-booming Charleston neighborhood. “The area is acquiring a reputation as an artistic magnet,” she says.
Bruner isn’t new to the neighborhood. She and her husband, Robert, have owned the property for nearly a decade, refusing to sell despite some great offers.
While Bruner originally thought she might use the space for her husband’s contracting business, in the end she decided she wanted it for herself. Its open floor plan, convenient parking and location in an up-and-coming neighborhood made it the perfect place to locate a consignment shop.
Bruner’s new venture, which opened in December 2013, marks the end of her long career in the fields of luxury real estate and advertising. “It’s my next chapter,” she insists.
Her eclectic collection includes more than a few conversation starters. Take the brown mid-century tobacco press. Look closely and you can spot rows of cigar silhouettes embedded in the antique’s naturally tanned boards. Other rare pieces include a World War II footlocker. A companion piece, with its rustic green lettering, is a small Canadian ammo box, also from World War II. A favorite of Bruner’s are the Lovebird Spoons, a series of sculptures made by artist Matt Wilson, who creates his visionary artwork from rustic, recycled scrap metal.
I’m tempted by these pieces and wonder if Bruner is inclined to keep the best ones for herself. When pressed, she admits she has to resist her instinct to acquire. “The hardest part of my job,” she says, “is not wanting to take everything home.”
Tatiana Donald is a Charleston-based writer and editor.