Layered Interiors Perfect A Gorgeously Restored South Carolina Home


antebellum home exterior surrounded lush...

Outside Charleston, a richly appointed Antebellum home gets a modern makeover respectful of its roots.

center hall with vintage French...

In the center hall of interior designer Elizabeth Stuart’s Gothic Revival home outside Charleston is a grouping of vintage French bamboo and antique red velvet chairs sourced from Stuart’s boutique in Mount Pleasant. The painting is by local artist John Carroll Doyle, procured from his signature Charleston gallery. Architect Beau Clowney and general contractor Richard Marks contributed to the home’s original renovation in the late 1990s.

study with mahogany console with...

In the study, which was formerly the playroom, a vintage leather-winged monoplane from Stuart’s boutique hangs above a mahogany dining table-cum-console from Carl Moore Antiques in Houston. The vintage wicker lamps are from Ceylon et Cie in Dallas and the upholstered cube stools are by Anthropologie.

cypress-paneled library with antique blue...

The octagonal, cypress- paneled library—one of the home’s newer additions—also serves as the family’s “garden room” (windows overlook the garden and harbor beyond). The antique blue velvet armchairs are Italian and the club chairs are vintage.

kitchen with french farm table...

“For an addition to look organic, it’s necessary to use the vernacular of the time,” Stuart says of the historically rooted cooking space. “I wanted it to look like the fireplace in a cook’s kitchen that I just happened to slide a Wolf stove into.” The French farm table and vintage chairs—half of them upholstered in Katie Leede & Company’s Shade of Sycamore floral linen—are from Stuart’s boutique.

keeping room john carroll doyle...

Adjoining the kitchen, the keeping room showcases another John Carroll Doyle painting—this one depicting “Daisy, a woman I loved and respected very much,” says Stuart, who commissioned the painting just after Daisy died. The club chairs are upholstered in a cream-colored chenille-blend fabric from Kravet. Chelsea Textiles’ embroidered Tamara linen covers the accent pillows.

master bedroom with antique ladies...

Stuart created an intimate design moment in the master bedroom by pairing an antique ladies’ desk she picked up in Paris with a vintage Italian barrel-back chair. A gilt Louis Philippe mirror and carved alabaster lamp add gravitas to the setup.

master bathroom lewis and wood...

Clad in a graphic green wallpaper by British brand Lewis & Wood, the master bathroom features an antique painting and a Louis XVI armchair covered in Pierre Frey’s Fleur De Rosee silk. The rich wood floors are reclaimed antique heart pine, and the satin brass drawer pulls are by Colonial Bronze, sourced through Bird Decorative Hardware and Bath.

white conservatory

Part of a later addition to the property, the conservatory was built by Amdega, a beloved maker near London.

hidding garden rooms with raised...

Landscape architect Sheila Wertimer collaborated on the home’s lush grounds—complete with extended outdoor living spaces, “hidden garden rooms” and raised brick planting beds—back when Stuart first purchased the home, then worked with the interior designer to update the compound intermittently over the years.

porch with black wicker furniture

In Charleston, porches are really important,” says Stuart, who restored the home’s original porch with general contractor Bob Fleming. The black wicker furniture is from Lloyd Flanders in Menominee, Michigan. The cushions are upholstered in a Perennials canvas weave and the accent pillows are fashioned from Schumacher’s Yangtze River linen in jade. Serving as a charming conversation piece, the Dalmatian was sourced in France.

Found in the charming Old Village of Mount Pleasant, just over the Cooper River from Charleston, is a historic house that bewitched Elizabeth Stuart well before she even stepped inside. “That day, the magnolias were filled with enormous white blooms, and if you’re a Southerner, that hooks you right there,” recounts the interior designer, who’s also maintained an eponymous home boutique in the area for 23 years.

That was back in the mid-1990s, when Stuart and her growing family were still living in Houston. Feeling a pull to return to her native South Carolina, Stuart had asked an area real estate agent to show her properties. That query led them to a Lowcountry rarity: a Gothic Revival residence nestled amid the thick overgrowth of a former fishing village on Shem Creek. Built in 1850, the home was later used as a makeshift Civil War hospital before becoming tattered by elapsing time.

“We walked into this spooky, falling-apart place and all you could see was history, the shadows of what used to be,” Stuart recalls. In the dining room, for example, a pane of original glass diamond-etched with the year 1876 let her imagination run wild with speculation about the home’s former inhabitants. Despite its run-down condition, Stuart recognized its enviable bones: tall ceilings, original hardwood floors, 12-foot cypress doors. And hidden behind one of them was the intoxicating sight of Charleston Harbor. “As soon as I saw that view, I was just done—I needed to have it,” says Stuart, who convinced her husband to buy the house and relocate the family from Texas to South Carolina.

She then enlisted a close friend, architect Beau Clowney, to help her renovate and expand the forlorn residence. General contractor Richard “Moby” Marks was retained to ensure the home’s details would be restored with the utmost historical accuracy and that the seamless addition—complete with a wood-paneled library and a kitchen niche built from authentic Old Charleston brick—would have hallmarks faithful to the original structure. To shore up the property’s sweeping, 3-acre grounds, Stuart called on landscape architect Sheila Wertimer to distill her vision. Accomplished in phases over 20 years with the aid of additional design collaborators and subcontractors, the compound came together with a trio of koi ponds, a conservatory to house Stuart’s thriving collection of orchids, a wood-shuttered “shade pavilion” and a network of slate paths connecting “hidden garden rooms.”

“To me, gardening is just interior design—but outside,” explains the interior designer, who extended the footprint of the home’s original porch via a brick patio shrouded in an iron trellis. In turn, her efforts established a welcoming space for outdoor dining, entertaining and even a makeshift office. “Porches are very important in the South; it’s where I spend most of my time,” notes Stuart, who recently teamed up with general contractor Bob Fleming to restore it. Previously, the pair had renovated several bedrooms and bathrooms and replaced most windows and doors. “I was careful not to touch any of the original 1850 glass,” Stuart assures.

In the intervening years, Stuart’s interiors have become just as thoughtfully layered. “Any designer will tell you: Our homes are always changing; it’s a curse,” she jokes. Stuart’s evolving tastes—coupled with a lifestyle change (all three children are grown and out of the nest)—meant she could finally indulge certain design whims; namely, her passion for white. Creating a crisp backdrop for an ever-evolving collection of art, Stuart painted nearly every room the same untinged shade, allowing her acquisitions, such as an oil portrait by John Carroll Doyle that now commands the keeping room, to take center stage. Stuart also took the opportunity to refresh her upholstery with luxurious new fabrics—“wonderful thick linens, velvets and mohair, sourced from places like London and Morocco”—a majority of them in shades of, well, white.

Contemporary additions like Eames loungers and Lucite lamps complement more storied finds: a ceramic Dalmatian Stuart acquired in Cortona, Italy, a hand-carved console picked up in Paris and beloved collections of vintage Murano crystal boxes in lavender, garnet and “midcentury green.”

To celebrate her home’s most recent reinvention—and to inspire inevitable future updates—Stuart, who loves to entertain, heeded the wisdom of a family friend. Her advice? “Darling, have a party—have a big, fun party, and in the morning, where your furniture is placed is how it should have been in the first place.” Says Stuart: “She was exactly right. People will pull up chairs where they want to talk. And that’s what makes a home not only beautiful, but comfortable.”