AH&L: What spurred your decision to get back in the Atlanta market and open up shop at the Galleries of Peachtree Hills?
Suzanna Hamilton: I took a little break from working, and when I came back I realized I really wanted a business I could manage while being a wife and mother. I wanted to have a smaller space with inventory that turns more frequently. People can come in here and find different things every week. Plus I saw a place in the market for people aged 30-55. I think people really want to mix styles and periods. No one really has a straight home anymore, and the most interesting homes evolve over time.
AH&L: How does this store differ from the shop you owned with your mother, Levison & Cullen?
Suzanna Hamilton: It’s a real mix, but it works. I think it’s that kind of thing that we’re trying to get people to see. That you can mix periods, styles and price points. I would prefer to see someone spend the money on one really good thing a year, and fill in around it, than try to fill a whole house in a few months. After a while you’ll have a really great collection. We’re trying to help people see how to do that.
AH&L: What can people expect to find in-store?
Suzanna Hamilton: I want it to be very unexpected when people come in here, and I think that’s what people can count on. They don’t know what they might find. If you were here last week, the store would’ve looked completely different. And that’s the point. I buy what I love and I buy every week, all over the place. It’s intentionally a small space with high turnover.
AH&L: Can everyone ‘do’ antiques?
Suzanna Hamilton: I’ve really worked hard to make this inventory below $10,000, and 90 percent of it is. Actually, 50 percent of it is below $1,000. I’ve worked really hard to make it accessible to everyone. The thrust of this shop is the accessories. Everyone is going to have a set of chairs or a chest, but it’s the accessories – how you choose to go in the room – that really makes interiors stand apart. And I noticed there was a real gap in the Atlanta market for different accessories, something you can’t find anywhere else, and that is what I’ve really tried to focus on.
AH&L: In your opinion, what’s one thing everyone should keep in mind when buying antiques?
Suzanna Hamilton: If you see something and fall in love with it, buy it. If you have a gut reaction to something, you’re always going to have that gut reaction. I always tell people if they’re indecisive, ‘Walk away for 24 hours. If you can still remember what it is, then come back and buy it. If you can’t, leave it alone.’ If you have that knee-jerk reaction now, it’s always going to be that reaction.
AH&L: What do you look for when you’re buying new pieces?
Suzanna Hamilton: I’m drawn to quality – something that has good lines, good scale, good proportion. I like things that are well designed, whether it’s a great corkscrew or an 18th-century tapestry. I don’t like to see things that are sort of made up, have a lot of repairs or refinishes. No matter what vernacular, what period, what country it’s from – if it’s good, it’s good. That’s what I really respond to: that constant level of quality and of good design.
Suzanna Hamilton Antiques & Art, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., (404) 869-0015, shamiltonantiques.com.