Interior designer, world traveler and Artfully Walls photographer, Nicki Clendening knows a thing or two about Charleston. We caught up with the tastemaker to get the inside scoop on one of America's favorite cities.
The Artful Review: Tell us about your childhood and how you developed a love for art, antiques, and all things design.
Nicki Clendening: I grew up on a farm in rural South Carolina in a house filled with antiques and art. My grandparents lived around the world and happily embraced antiques from wherever they happened to be living at the time. Many of these pieces were passed along to my parents when they first married and had no money, and throughout the years as my grandmother came back to visit from living in Saudi Arabia, China, and beyond. At least a couple of times a year my mother would rearrange the entire house, from top to bottom...all three floors! It taught me that even though you may not have anything new, you can create an entirely different space just by repainting and reconfiguring the art and furnishings. It also had a profound affect on my love of art from an early age because every wall in the house was filled with things she'd found at flea markets, antique stores, or had been handed down over the years (along with all the art made by myself and my siblings). She let us do whatever we wanted in our bedrooms and encouraged our creativity daily.
AR: Why did you fall in love with Charleston?
NC: I went to visit the College of Charleston my senior year in high school and decided on the spot that it was the place I wanted to be. I earned an art history degree and honed my appreciation of art by doing an internship with the Charleston Arts Council and by working in art galleries during the ten years I lived there. It's impossible not to fall completely in love with the city's architecture, art galleries, house museums, and art scene. It spurred my love of history, antiques, architecture, and art.
Nicki's insider guide to Charleston
"I have been going to the Gibbes Museum of Art for many years and they've recently undergone a renovation that's enlivened the space enormously. It's a small museum but a must-see if you love art, particularly Southern art. I also love walking around to visit some of Charleston's many wonderful art galleries. Favorites include:
"Another thing I do on almost every visit to Charleston is to go walk through Magnolia Cemetery just outside the city. I first went there with my architecture professor in college who told us that if we were ever in a city and wanted to know more about the architecture of the area to go to the oldest cemetery first because it had dates and could give you a clue as to what the history of place was.
I am lucky to get back several times a year and am always happy to discover a new restaurant, art gallery, or simply to spend the morning walking beloved streets like Legare, Tradd, Gibbes, Church to peer at some of my favorite old houses."