Aside from my love of travel, I always love going back to the coast. Lucky for us, we usually try to make a trip to Charleston, South Carolina every year for Memorial Day weekend, which is exactly what we did a couple of weekends ago. Not only does it give me a sense of peace being near the water, but Charleston also offers what a lot of other beach towns don’t. The town itself is rich in history, culture and arts.
While on the subject of a place rich in art, there’s an open air market, open daily, with 4 buildings that stretch from Meeting Street to East Bay Street, near the waterfront. The market itself began as a place to buy and sell food items. Today it houses anything from local artwork, souvenirs to homemade food items. Although it’s a little touristy, it’s fun to watch the natives weave the sweet-grass baskets. I especially liked the sweet-grass flowers (see below). So pretty!
- There’s no shortage of inspiration in this town, that’s for sure. And sometimes, it strikes when you least expect it. Before our last visit, a couple of years ago, a client had hired us to transform her dull concrete patio space into an outdoor “living room.” She had requested a look similar to natural stone pavers, using different sizes in blue and grey hues. Low and behold, look at what I came across while walking along Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston…
It was just the creative boost I needed! With the right products, a little experimenting with color and a lot of hard work in the dead of summer (that was slightly miserable), we were able to take this idea and transform her patio into something just as beautiful.
And speaking of inspiration, how about all the history and architecture the Low Country has to offer?? There’s more character and charm in this small town than there is in many larger cities. Most homes feature private balconies with beautifully manicured courtyards. There’s an incredible mix of classic Georgia, Federal, Adamesque, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian homes all along the downtown area.
If you take a stroll down East Bay Street, you’ll see Charleston’s famous “Rainbow Row” of houses, constructed in the 18th-century Georgian townhome style, which feature brick and stucco surfaces painted in an array of colors. The beauty is in the details, from the doorways, the rooftops, the window panes, etc. Also, if you head back towards East Battery Street, facing the harbor (first picture at top), you’ll notice mansions dating back to 1809 to 1920, and also the place where locals watched as the Civil War began with the firings at Fort Sumter.
While walking along the downtown area, I can’t help but imagine what the interiors of these incredibly historic and beautiful homes must look like. One day the hubby and I would like to do a tour of homes but until then, I’ll just day dream about what might lie within. I would imagine that the interiors of these homes combine some of my favorite design elements: lots of historic charm, a comfortable and coastal feel with the use of colors, textures and fabrics, all while incorporating modern day amenities.
Instead of guessing, a great way to find out, and on that note, a great way to get design ideas in general, is to check out real estate websites featuring interior pictures of the homes in the area of interest. This is especially true if you have an awkward space in your home or a room you’re just unsure how to decorate or furnish. Check listings in your neighborhood as most areas have similar blueprints. This is exactly what blogger mynottinghill did when she came across these lovely Charleston interior pictures.
Even a small kitchen can be filled with beautiful, creative details. Here, the window in the kitchen is covered with reclaimed shutters, while the cabinets, instead of using glass to open them up, the homeowner chose to use chicken wire. Both elements make the space feel more casual and rustic. The kitchen is then dressed up by adding stainless steel appliances and because of it’s limited square footage, the use of all white materials (cabinets, tile and counters) gives it a more open, airy feel.
Or, how about this open kitchen layout, with the exposed brick walls?
Again, more exposed brick in a dining room. By exposing the brick, the homeowner not only exposes the home’s history, but it also adds visual interest and character to the space.
Use architecture to your advantage as well. Design the furniture layout in order to highlight nooks and crannies, or, as you see here, the archway.
If you don’t have interesting architecture in a room, add it. The first image below features an old fireplace mantle. You don’t actually have to have a fireplace to create the same look. See the image just below, found here. You can find old mantles on Craigslist, at yard/estate sales, or at flee markets.
Give your bathroom character as well. Not only can you add a coastal feel to any room by using aqua blues, grays, brown/tan sand tones, and lots of whites, but you can also make it feel less like a bathroom and more like a room by using area rugs, artwork, crystal chandeliers for that extra romance and sparkle, or furniture like the chair you see in the image below.
If you want more of a vintage feel, a great way to achieve that is by using a clawfoot tub (as seen in both images below), or, as discussed above, an old mantle to create the look of a fireplace in your bathroom space.
And finally, gone are the days of traditional bath decor. Why use manufactured cabinets in your bathroom? Instead, buy an old piece of furniture that fits the space, with ample storage, and repurpose it into a sink cabinet, as seen at Coastal Living.
Until next time,