What Style Is That?

- Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"Oooh, I like that one!" one of my nieces exclaimed as she scrolled through images of recently completed design projects on my iPad this past weekend. I had gone up to Virginia to celebrate my father's 80th birthday in conjunction with an annual family reunion. While waiting for the food to be prepared, we had found a spot on a blanket out in the yard to sit and catch-up. She and her husband had just recently bought a new house and I thought she might enjoy getting some ideas for their new place. The photo that caught her eye was of a casual dining room overlooking the marsh in Colleton River Plantation.

“It looks like something out of a magazine. What do you call that style of decorating?" she asked.

“Actually it was just published in a local magazine this fall,” I said proudly, regretting the fact that I had forgotten to bring along a copy to share on my visit. And then I was stumped for an actual term to categorize the style for her.

I quickly started thinking of industry buzzwords to describe it. Industrial Chic? No, not really, it didn't have that cold industrial vibe. Urban Loft? No, the setting in Colleton River is hardly urban or remotely loft-like. Beachy? Well, no, you will not find a lighthouse or life preserver motif in the composition. Coastal? Maybe, but not really. There are indeed some oyster shells adorning the chandelier and a fragment or two of a sea fan on the tablescape, but that is hardly the theme of the space.

The dining room in the photo was eclectic, but not in a Bohemian sense. The rectilinear dining table was built from reclaimed wood fashioned in a very casual and simple picnic table style, with x-shaped legs. The matte-finish of the plank board top is driftwood colored and suggests years of wear. A set of wicker side chairs, finished in a weathered gray-beige, are paired with more modern, fully upholstered and skirted host and hostess chairs at each end of the table. The nubby, sage green upholstery of the host and hostess chairs picks up the green hues of the ikat patterned cushions of the wicker chairs. Antique brass nail-head trim on the upholstered chairs keeps them from being too slick for the more vintage looking furnishings. To keep the room from being too traditional and give it a contemporary vibe I turned the table on the diagonal. The effect is unexpected and fresh. 

The uniting element in the composition was the palette of natural colors and casual materials that made the different pieces work together as a whole. The walls were skimmed with a pigmented plaster coat that softens the newness of the construction and adds a warm ambience. A faded, washed green tint on the butt-board ceiling allows some of the wood-grain to show through and creates subtle pattern on an often forgotten surface. The tawny colored oak floors were left bare and undressed windows let the incredible views of the palmetto trees, marsh grasses and river beyond to permeate the interiors and provide a soothing backdrop for dining.

The room is conducive for leisurely morning breakfasts, perusing the paper and doing crossword puzzles as well as hosting evening dinners for eight people. It is also a great spot for a game of cards or to sit and work on a laptop, the perfect multi-functional space.

“It is comfortable, casual, and inviting. That’s what we are all about down in Hilton Head,” I told my niece. “I call it Lowcountry Chic.”

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