The Best Seat in the House

Circa has long been a southern go-to for fine English and Continental antiques, one-of-a-kind-pieces, and sophisticated-but-approachable design ideas. Owner Cindy Smith started dealing antiques as a hobby more than three decades ago. Her passion quickly turned into a thriving business and design hub in Charlotte, North Carolina. Cindy’s daughter, Whitney, opened the Birmingham store 15 years ago. Today, they continue to offer all the great pieces and services they are known for—plus a brand new signature line of furniture, the Catbird Collection. 

Inviting their most trusted and talented friends for a brainstorming session last year, the Circa team found themselves working with designers and architects as enthused about designing a furniture line as they were. “We all wanted pieces we could design a room around, ” says Cindy. “And, we wanted pieces that would stand the test of time.” 

Whether a chair or sofa, each piece has both traditional and modern elements. For example, the Sullivan Sofa, though low-slung and linear, nods to historical Chesterfield style with its tufted back.

“This fall we hope to add a line of accessories, ” says Cindy. “We love antiques, but we’re always ready for something new.”

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Catbird Collection offers fabrics in linen and wool from Coleman Taylor in Montgomery. Hues lean towards graphite and gold in solids and hand-stenciled patterns. The Catbird Collection logo is used as a design motif.


Whitney Johnson (left), and her mother, Cindy Smith, both of Circa Interiors, relax on two pieces in Circa’s new furniture collection. The Whitlow sofa, designed by Cindy, offers a removable French pallet, a top cushion that offers extra comfort and durability. “The cushion is easy to clean or flip over if needed, ” Cindy says.

The Catbird Collection is a culmination of ideas from Circa Interiors and Antiques, McAlpine, Booth, and Ferrier, Bates Corkern Studio, Bourgeoisie, Inc., and Pursley Dixon Architecture. (From left): Bobby McAlpine, Jane Schwab, Susan Ferrier, Ken Pursley, Paul Bates, Cindy Smith, Jeremy Corkern, Emily Bourgeois. The line currently offers 19 individual pieces of seating and 11 fabrics. (The pieces are also available COM, customer’s own material.) Catbird Collection, made in North Carolina, is available exclusively through Circa.


Yes! Catbird. “The Catbird seat is always the best seat in the house, ” Cindy Smith says. Conceived by designer Marion Powers, the name, Catbird, harkens to a baseball phrase coined in the early 20th-century. Broadcaster Red Barber used the phrase to mean “sitting pretty.” Today, the term is a widespread idiom used to descibe a place of advantage. And, with Circa in the Catbird seat, the expression has never looked (or sounded) so good.

SULLIVAN SOFA (Paul Bates) Each piece in the collection is named after one of our family members. “There’s a lot of strength in those names, ” Cindy says.


REBECCA SOFA (Jeremey Corkern) and KATHRYN BANQUETTE (Emily Bourgeois)

Circa Interiors and Antiques • 2831 Culver Rd.,  Birmingham. 205.868.9199; 2321 Crescent Ave.,  Charlotte. 704.332.1668.

text by Cathy Still McGowin • photos by art meripol

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