Moving invariably offers a chance to start fresh. But that feeling is amplified when the new space marks a complete shift in architectural style. In anticipation of selling their business and embracing a lighter workload, a couple traded in their traditional abode for a more casual one on Sullivan’s Island, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks to its open floor plan and breezy locale on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway, their new retreat called for a relaxed, fun look.
Departing a traditional white stucco residence was a dramatic change, and the couple’s mostly neutral furnishings didn’t make the transition with much grace. “It was clear the minute we moved our furniture in here that it didn’t fit,” the wife recounts. “I didn’t really know what to do.” So, she turned to the Internet, where a search introduced her to the work of designer Angie Hranowsky. “This is the only client I’ve ever had who found me through a Google search,” says Hranowsky, a Kentucky native who’s called the Charleston area home since 2001.
The project started small: The clients were eager to convert a large first-floor guest bedroom into a TV room, workout space and guest bathroom. They also hoped to have Hranowsky’s input on the downstairs office, living room and dining room. The designer’s eclectic presentations included an array of vintage finds, custom furnishings and colorful art. “I don’t do traditional beach house style,” Hranowsky explains of her globally influenced outlook. Thrilled by the designer’s ideas, the clients ultimately tapped her talents for the revamp of their entire home–from the kitchen and porch to the master bathroom and upstairs bedrooms.
A multi-hued striped runner Hranowsky discovered around the time she was hired sets the tone from the moment one steps over the threshold, and its casual cotton weave signals the home’s playful informality. “It’s really about balance,” the designer says of her ability to harness bold colors. For instance, rich jewel tones in the living room’s chairs, sofa and draperies are tamed by neutral grass-cloth walls and a sisal rug. Corresponding tones in a bright grouping on the opposite side of the adjoined living and dining room also help temper the vibrant hues.
The husband, an engineer by trade, encouraged the project, allaying his wife’s fears when creative risks–like a green faux bois wallpaper on the ceiling–felt overwhelming. His skill set solved two of the home’s most perplexing issues: how to improve the functionality of the oversize custom dining table and how to discretely incorporate a TV into their living room. His clever suggestion of insetting a marble lazy Susan into the center of the table solved the first problem. A French chest that conceals a television was likewise the result of his ingenuity.
With work on the house well underway, the owners decided the surrounding property also would need refining. They brought in landscape architect Brad Mann to sculpt an environment that would feel organic to the marsh-side setting. “It was really about simplifying the landscape,” Mann says. Because a full moon flood tide can fully submerge the backyard, Mann chose plants such as Empire Zoysia, clumping bamboo and Adagio grass that are known for their salt tolerance. Little Gem magnolia trees, Carpet roses and Vitex Chaste trees add soft washes of color. By removing the unruly plants that previously blocked the views, “we just completely opened everything up,” he explains.
The result enhances the owners’ life on the island, where they have the perfect porch from which to enjoy it. “They have views of the water all along the back,” says Hranowsky, who corralled vintage French and contemporary teak chairs around a coffee table with a custom concrete top–all beneath a classic Haint blue ceiling. On mild mornings, when salt breezes blow across the nearby inlet, it’s hard to imagine a better place to sip a cup of coffee. Nor is the location half bad in the evening, with the sun meeting the horizon as pink and golden streaks. “We both love what Angie proposed and we love the way it feels,” the wife says. “Everyone who comes to our home says how amazing it is. It fits us, and we couldn’t be happier here.”