When you step into the West Ashley showroom of Circe you feel as if you’re walking into a jewel box of possibilities. Centuries of the past reveal themselves in the present via a timeless combination of beautiful wood, fabric, color and fine details.
Circe, a unique home store owned by Jeffrey McKinney and Randall Grussing, gets its name from the Southern word meaning “an unexpected small gift.” The showroom is filled with beautiful one-ofa-kind antiques, decorative accessories and quality furniture ready to find new homes.
McKinney and Grussing, who also own the nearby Architectural Antiques and Design, opened Circe in November 2013. “We wanted a store that was more comfortable and inviting than our Architectural Antiques and Design location, which is more like an antiques warehouse,” says McKinney. McKinney’s background in luxury goods and fabrics is the perfect complement to Grussing’s expertise in interior design and photography. Together, they are able to provide customers with unique pieces and interior design advice.
“Everything here has a story behind it,” says McKinney. And there are many tales to tell. For example, Circe currently offers a pair of American Gothic Revival Philadelphia gatepost lamps (circa 1840 – 1860), a bed from the downtown Roebling estate, a set of six Irish Regency chairs made from carved mahogany (circa 1811 – 1822) and many more stunning items.
Circe allows customers to look through a large selection of designer swatches and order their favorites at a designer’s discount. They also offer fabrics by the bolt on site, and at prices below wholesale. This means clients can purchase an item they love, choose a fabric and have Circe’s team of experts upholster it—a time- and money-saver.
McKinney and Grussing agree that bold, vibrant colors are popular and unique to Charleston-area homes. “The sunlight here is stronger, and our colors are bolder. Stronger tones make a statement that says the person isn’t shy about committing,” Grussing says.
Even with their impressive designer and luxury goods background, McKinney and Grussing prefer to work within the customer’s own style. “It’s their home, not mine,” says McKinney. “So whatever piece they choose has to fit their environment. We aren’t cavalier about other people’s money. These can be expensive pieces of furniture, and we work hard to educate every customer about the items they purchase.”
Grussing agrees: “People acquire things over time and a home can contain pieces from every era of that person’s life. We take that into account and find objects that fit into what they already have and how they live. If you shop carefully, you can afford quality things.”
Ultimately, every customer leaves a mark on the Circe team. “One client wanted me to help her downsize as she moved into a smaller place, but she was sentimentally attached to everything she owned. I helped her transition to a smaller environment without making her feel like she gave up anything. I was her home ‘editor.’ It’s very satisfying to help people learn the art of living well with what they already own,” says Grussing.
The duo look forward to expanding Circe’s offerings in the near future to items such as china, crystal and silver.
“My heart is firmly planted in the past when it comes to home goods,” says McKinney. “These antiques are so beautifully made. Part of the fun for me is finding homes for each of these items, knowing that its new owner will love it as much as I do. It’s almost like placing a puppy in someone’s home. You know you found a good home for it, but it can be hard to say goodbye.”
Kira Perdue is a public relations professional and freelance writer based in Mount Pleasant, S.C.