The Studio, home of Dressing Rooms Interiors, is located behind two large coral doors in NoDa’s Area 15 Incubator. Beyonce blasts from the speakers in the cozy space filled with luxe brass candlesticks, colorful abstract paintings and refinished vintage furniture. Owner Ariene Bethea greets me warmly, and we settle onto a 1970s coral sofa printed with white mythical creatures. It’s probably the most unique piece of furniture I’ve ever seen, but somehow, covered in a modern sheepskin throw, it works.
In fact, everything in The Studio works, whether it’s a preppy black-and-white-buffalo-checked upholstered ottoman, a hand-carved Ganesha mask, or a pretty pair of powder blue shell lamps. Bethea describes her offerings as “an artistic collection of vintage home decor and furnishings in fresh color combinations and graphic patterns mixed with ethnic pieces,” and her own style, a mix of Bohemian Luxe and Hollywood Regency, shines through. She says The Studio is where she really gets to play with color.
The merchandise is all curated by Bethea, who spends her spare time scouring vintage and secondhand markets and repurposing furniture. She not only sells at The Studio, but at Charlotte’s Slate Interiors, on home decor e-comm giant One Kings Lane, and through consignment furniture site Chairish.
Shortly after obtaining her Master’s Degree, Bethea was working in Human resources and development in Boston, and redecorated her boss’ office. “It was a ‘Eureka!’ moment for me when she loved what I’d done,” says Bethea. “Shortly after, I visited a shop in D.C. and immediately knew it was what I wanted. I get an overwhelming feeling of ‘this is it’ when I’m styling spaces and making them beautiful.”
She and her husband relocated to Charlotte, where Bethea started a blog, opened an Etsy site, took her first buying trip to Tennessee, and Dressing Rooms Interiors was born. After opening and running a booth at Slate Interiors for four years, Bethea stumbled upon the Area 15 space in NoDa (formerly a garage and a comic book store) one day after lunch.
“I initially thought it was too big, but one thing led to another and two weeks later I moved in,” says Bethea. “I couldn’t have imagined this happening when it did. It’s all about luck and timing.”
Since opening The Studio in late 2015, Bethea has been building her inventory, styling her space, and increasing the rental side of her business. Her unique wares are not only available for sale, but for rent for photographers, event planners and stylists. She loves the marketing side of running a small business, and she’s significantly growing her design services. Her widespread offerings offer an eclectic alternative to more traditional decor options.
“I’m different than my competition,” says Bethea. “I don’t want to be like any of them. I wanted to have my own thing. I want to be unlike anything else in Charlotte.”
Photos: Donald Wilson