“Down to Earth Design”

- Wednesday, May 08, 2013

“Wow!” I said as my client rolled-out the plans for her new house to be built in Colleton River Plantation. We were having our first meeting at the design studio, getting to know each other and talking about her likes, dislikes, her lifestyle, and what she desired for her new home.

It was an incredible plan, unlike any I had ever worked on before. The footprint of the house perfectly mimicked the unusually shaped peninsula lot, taking advantage of marsh and water views on three sides of the property. The home was divided into two distinct “pods” connected by a window-walled “bridge” that separated the master bedroom, guest bedrooms and an intimate media room from the kitchen, dining room, massive greatroom, and spectacular screened porch overlooking the river. This was no ordinary plan. I was intrigued.

After chatting for a few more minutes I knew Kathy was going to be fun to work with on this project. She was a painter and photography enthusiast. She loved to go “junking,” as she put it, “You know, not in fancy antique stores, but rummaging through someone’s old barn who wants to clean it out and get rid of stuff.” And, judging from the overflowing binder she brought in with her full of magazine clippings and ideas, I could tell she was not afraid to do her homework and would be engaging in the design process.

“I am probably not going to be your average client and the décor I want for this house will not be what you typically do down here in Hilton Head. I want it to be casual and rustic, like an old family fish camp that has evolved over time, but not contrived. It needs to embrace the setting and bring the outside inside in perfect harmony.” Then she added, half jokingly, “So, are you up for this challenge?” 

Oh boy, was I ever up for this! As a professional designer I relish any opportunity to work on a project that challenges me to think outside the box and create something special. This was certainly going to be an enjoyable collaboration. I could not wait to get started.

Well, that initial meeting in the design studio was about 2 years ago and Kathy and her family have been enjoying the home for the past year or so. The building process lasted for a little over a year and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. The home perfectly harmonizes with its unique setting and suits Kathy’s lifestyle to a “T”.

The design scheme was all based around the nature found here in the Lowcountry, specifically on her property. Color inspiration came from the lichen, ferns, pine needles, palm fronds, tree bark, sand, and driftwood found on the property. The faded wood stains, distressed finishes, shell encrusted tabby, glazed paint colors, and textured, natural fabrics all look as though they were plucked from the land and help to blur the line between indoors and out.

Original works of art in the form of one-of-a-kind lighting fixtures, fabricated by Lowcountry Originals, grace the home both inside and out. A particular favorite of mine is the custom oyster shell chandelier that casts a welcoming glow over the dining room table. Chucky, rock crystal embellishments add some rustic bling while keeping it casual enough for family dinner caught from the local waters (Kathy and her husband love to fish).

Rustic antiques, found objects, and repurposed treasures from Kathy’s “junking” adventures are all intertwined with the newly bought furnishings I carefully selected to look as though they had been enjoyed over time. Slipcovers add a casual note to sofas and chairs and offer practicality as well. Distressed finishes on tables and chests suggest years of use.

Having had the opportunity to spend time in this home for social gatherings, I can attest (despite my obvious bias) that this “family fish camp” feels as though it has been there for many generations. It has an ease about it that is both familiar and welcoming for guests without pretense or contrivance. It feels integrated into its surroundings and is elegant in its simplicity. The home is truly down to Earth.

Fashion Forward

- Friday, May 03, 2013

Spring Forward in Home Fashion

If I asked you to name a city that hosts an influential fashion show twice a year you would no doubt think of New York or Paris or perhaps Milan. But what about High Point? Yes, the small city in North Carolina does just that, only instead of haute couture, it showcases the latest emerging trends in home décor, as in the fashions your house will be wearing in the seasons to come. And just like those uber-chic cities, the semi-annual, week-long celebration in High Point draws buyers from around the globe to take a look at what’s to come from furniture and accessory manufacturers, and the taste makers, who market them. The High Point Furniture Market is considered the destination for top trends in home fashion.

As an interior designer, the trip to market is both invigorating and exhausting. I go with the intention of sourcing specific items for projects I am currently working on but sometimes I find myself venturing off in a totally different direction because of something that inspires me. Then, after about five days, my brain is on sensory overload, my feet hurt, and I just want to come home to re-group. Now that I have been back recuperating for about two weeks, I think I can give you a brief synopsis of what I saw, what I liked, and what trends you can expect to see for home décor in the near future.

If you were to spin the color wheel you would find one side of the spectrum more popular than ever and that would be the blue, green, and yellow tones. But these are not the wimpy watery blues, subtle sage greens, and mellow yellows of past seasons, as the volume has been turned up considerably. Think nautical navy, grassy green, and sun-kissed saffron. The palette has been pumped up and it delivers a powerful punch to even the most bland of neutral backgrounds, like a Lily Pulitzer print towel lying on a sandy beach.

Speaking of the beach, resort-chic is hot, so pack your bags and head on down to Palm Beach, or any other chic, upscale, ocean-oriented resort destination for that matter. Sophistication and relaxation are the keys to easy, breezy style. Did you catch the premier of Mad Men this season? The cast was in Hawaii, in the late 1960’s, where a mix of mod mid-century chic was set in a tropical locale, and it was absolutely glorious. Asian influences, geometric rattan, martini tables and seashells all co-mingled on the sets of the show and these were in full view at the market in High Point.

Luxurious, exotic details, from burnished gold, to hammered leather, to cut velvet, all had supporting roles in High Point. Golden threads spun through the fabric on lampshades added glints of shimmer and shine. Tooled leather accents, on the fronts of chests of drawers and the backs of chairs gave these pieces an added dimension and presence. Nail-head trim made a strong showing at last fall’s market and further defined embellishment with Moroccan and Indian patterns. Fringe had a comeback as well, but in a more interesting way than the usual pillow trim. I purchased a nautical-themed, rope-fringed mirror for a project in Colleton River Plantation where I wanted to play-up the coastal theme. Traditional velvet took on a whole new look with patterns cut into the fabric on everything from pillows to throws to upholstery.

And finally the call of the wild is still prevalent, only now with an amped-up attitude. Cowhides, normally shown in their natural colors, were showcased in hyper-realistic colors such as chartreuse and raspberry. Frankly-faux is the new norm, and is fun to boot. The unexpected punch of color adds drama and a sense of fantasy.

Looking into the near future for interior design trends, I could not be more excited by the options. The overall mood at market was fun and fresh and even optimistic, drawing upon the past but updating it with a new twist and vision. We are moving forward, cherishing what we love from classic themes and then tweaking it to suit our modern lifestyles.

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