She rented an apartment in Columbia County, but she wanted to be able to walk downtown to the market to get fresh vegetables, to meet friends for dinner or drinks, or to listen to music.
"I like the vibrancy of stuff going on," said Ms. Carder, a co-owner of GlueStick, a downtown music management business.
She finally found a loft in 2005 in the old Cullum's Department Store building in the 700 block of Broad Street.
The building's owner, Kim Sidey, was moving from the loft to a house at Lake Olmstead. Because of his renovations, Ms. Carder inherited a wealth of features: a desk built into the foyer disappears behind closet doors; speakers are in the ceilings throughout the apartment; and windows exist where there were once walls.
"It doesn't seem old to me," she said.
Walls are decorated with the usual photos of loved ones, and also with photos and art by area artists.
"I looked for that kind of stuff when I moved downtown," she said.
The most prominent artwork is a Jay Jacobs painting that moved down Broad Street and onto the exposed brick wall in the dining room side of her great room.
"I bought it off the wall at The Mission," Ms. Carder said.
She had to tailor her furniture to fit the loft.
"I sold my (bedroom) furniture when I moved because it was too heavy," she said.
She moved in with a "casual but nice" living room set and added a sofa runner table from a downtown antiques store.
The dining table was bought after the move, and the bar stools came with the apartment -- a convenient location for friends to sit while she cooks brisket or lasagna, her family recipe specialties.
Since she's been on Broad Street, friends who come for dinner usually stick around for what's going on downtown that night.
Living in a downtown loft has enhanced her enjoyment of events such as First Fridays and parades. She and her friends, and her 4-year-old dog, Gable, take in the action from her small balcony that overlooks Broad Street.
She frequently is asked how she got up there, she said.
"Sometimes I don't think people realize these are apartments," she said.
Reach Sarah Day Owen at (706) 823-3223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.