Text by Bethany Adams
Classic charm defines the historic homes that populate downtown Charleston, South Carolina, and this Charleston single house built in 1880 has never been an exception. But when Lynne and John Rathgeber purchased it as a secondary home, the fully furnished interiors were at odds with the spirit of the iconic architectural style—and the style preferred by the new homeowners.
“It did not fit their aesthetic at all,” says designer J.P. Horton, who worked with Beau Clowney Architects and Morris Construction to refresh the home’s atmosphere and highlight its inherent beauty while meeting the family’s practical needs. Seascape shades and nature-inspired motifs complement original hardwood floors and detailed molding, carrying the beauty of the garden inside. “Since the garden’s right [outside] and such a big part of the house, that was kind of the starting off point for the [interior] color and the patterns,” J.P. says.
In the foyer, grass cloth wallpaper atop a turquoise backing plays into the family’s love of art, allowing them to hang and rehang paintings without showing nail holes, and a commercial-grade stair runner introduces a lattice motif that runs through the house while taking into account kids and dogs.
In the living room, the lattice pattern appears on the Roman shades, a subtle touch against the bolder backdrop of a scenic Schumacher wallpaper that would have been in style when the house was built. Antique furniture pairs practically with a sofa covered in a durable Crypton fabric, while a pair of vintage wingback chairs that came with the home sport a fresh covering of faux mohair in cobalt blue.
The design’s recurring themes are perhaps most obvious in the dining room, where the ceiling features a lattice-pattern wallpaper that, as J.P. notes, “makes the ceiling appear taller.” Below, an antique crewelwork tablecloth containing most of the palette’s shades complements the Rathgebers’ existing dining set.
While the kitchen would have been added to the home after it was originally built, the team managed to match its spirit to that of the rest of the home while upping its convenience level. Oversize marble subway tile in a rich green frames an ivy-inspired mosaic on the backsplash, and a copper range hood replaced the microwave, which was swapped out with an under-counter model—one of many “mindful updates” J.P. says they introduced to the space.
Upstairs, the redesign benefited from a previous owner’s decision to close in the upper level of the porch, though the team reworked the design for convenience and comfort in the bedrooms and bathrooms. Floating cabinets in the bedrooms allow for extra storage while preserving floor space for a sleeping pup or a pair of shoes, and a refresh of the linens introduced the home’s natural palette to the space.
Despite a few contemporary updates, the redesign clearly aimed to restore the more classic charms of the home’s history. By preserving its integrity and highlighting original elements, J.P. and the team offered this beloved home a second shot at its glory days.