Charleston is developing faster than people can build their IKEA furniture, and the city’s home design market is still catching up. But one store is putting Charleston on the map as one of the South’s top destinations for modern design.
Hausful, which opened its doors in February, is the most complete Scandinavian design shop in Charleston. In fact, it is the only modern home store within 200 miles where you can find most of its international brands. The brainchild of local graphic designer Becky Seel Hoppmann, Hausful wants to make Charleston, and West Ashley in particular, a haven for modern design. “I think we are going to be a breath of fresh air,” says Hoppmann.
Hausful is nothing if not fresh. The West Ashley shop, tucked into the Outback Plaza shopping center on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard, feels like a different world. The lofted ceilings and bright white walls make a wonderfully clean canvas.
Furniture inhabits the space like fine art. Classic Nordic looks mingle effortlessly with modern Canadian brands and the newest Japanese styles. Standing lamps with pale wood illuminate cool gray sofas and graphic patterned throws and pillows. Minimalist wooden bowls are stacked in a Zen-looking tower, and a wire leg conference table offers space to peruse design catalogs. Even the children’s furniture— a platform twin bed and mini worktable—is tidy, stylish and indestructible. Imagine an Apple store for couches—everything is sleek, easy-to-use and cool yet functional. “Most graphic designers are naturally drawn to Scandinavian design,” says Hoppmann. “It’s clean. It’s smart.”
A Charleston native, Hoppmann says traditional Southern home décor “was never really a fit for me.” After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design, establishing her family in Charleston and building a successful graphic design career, Hoppmann dreamt of building a locally based online marketplace for people like her—people who want an alternative to seashells, distressed wood and heavy large-scale furniture.
“A year ago we were talking about a website only,” says Hoppmann. Then one experience convinced her to go from online- only to a brick-and-mortar store stocked with everything from housewares and lighting to modern business interiors. The change came when Hoppman attended the world’s largest home design market, conveniently nearby in High Point, North Carolina, and everything changed.
Hoppmann walked into the soaring white showroom for the Canadian modernist brand EQ3, and her jaw dropped. “Their showroom is hard to get in. We had to kind of sweet-talk our way in there. Once we got in, I was picking my chin up off the floor,” she says. “I thought that, if I ever open a store, I would want it to be like this.”
Hausful is revolutionary for Charleston. With this store Hoppmann is making her dream a reality and ushering in a new era of design in Charleston, one more sleek and modern than anything that’s come before. But Hausful’s Scandinavian style is far from revolutionary. It’s simply classic and well edited.
To ensure that every brand at Hausful fits that tradition of quality, Hoppmann brought in an expert—her mother-inlaw. “It just so happens that I married someone whose mother is a guru in modern design,” says Hoppmann of her motherin- law, Janice, who built a career in interior design after working in Germany in the 1960s. She opened her own stores in Madison, Wisconsin, and Savannah, Georgia, and has worked as a modern stylist for the better part of five decades.
“My daily emails come in Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, German, French,” says Janice Hoppmann, who keeps in constant touch with European trends and sources. She knows the value of good design from experience. “It’s timeless. It doesn’t change with the inand- out fads,” she says. “Many things in Europe are still made by the original factories. They don’t throw things out if they ain’t broke.”
Thanks to Janice Hoppmann’s expertise and Becky Hoppmann’s designer’s eye, Hausful carries an unparalleled, carefully curated collection of products the women describe as “classic modern.” There are brightly patterned textiles from Marimekko of Finland, accessories designed in Denmark by ferm LIVING, Menu, Normann Copenhagen, Eva Solo and Bloomingville. From EQ3, the Canadian brand that inspired Hoppmann, you’ll find upholstery as well as bedroom and dining collections. Also available are many modern storage options from TeaHome of Portugal.
These are affordable and durable products “for people ready to upgrade from their college or first apartment furniture,” as Hoppmann puts it. She offers a gift registry “for any wish list” or chapter of life, not just weddings. An $800 sofa from Hausful is at the price point of mass-produced furniture. But at Hausful, customers can completely customize the fabric, legs and details. Better still, Hausful comes with experts who offer advice and the chance to feel well-made products with your hands.
“For the last 15 years, I could never find what I wanted for furniture, lighting, housewares, whatever,” says Becky Hoppmann. “I went to ordering online, but you can’t feel it, you have to take a chance and there was no one to talk to.” In the past, if Charlestonians wanted to see modern design in person, it would have required a weekend trip. Now they have Hausful.
“There’s nobody anywhere around who has the brands we have,” says Janice Hoppmann. “Maybe Atlanta or Charlotte … maybe.” Now, thanks to Hausful, Charleston has a design source on par with the larger metropolises—and better than IKEA.
As Janice Hoppmann acknowledges, “everybody does have a certain amount of stuff from IKEA … and I appreciate that IKEA has taught people in this country what clean, simple European design looks like.”
“Now, we can take it from here,” say the Hoppmanns.
Enid Spitz is a writer and yoga instructor in Charleston. Visit espitz .wordpress.com or @littleyogibird on Instagram.