A COUPLE FROM NEW ENGLAND COULDN’T wait to begin life on Kiawah Island, one of South Carolina’s unspoiled barrier islands, where the relationship between the island’s indigenous fauna and flora and a small, respectful human contingency has helped define thoughtful, environmentally sensitive development the world over. They saw their oceanside home as a getaway for their family and friends—a place where their guests could experience the island’s natural surroundings and year-round temperate climate, not to mention its 10 miles of pristine sand beaches, a bounty of gently placed golf courses and a number of other great amenities, all just a short drive from the historic city of Charleston.
The couple’s choice of architect was a natural fit for the project. Afterall, Christopher Rose Architects has designed dozens of homes that not only fit perfectly into extraordinary environments, such as Kiawah Island, but also meet or exceed the covenants and restrictions that go along with building a residence in such a carefully planned development. Rose’s architectural plans became the road map for the builder as well as the interior designer.
“I spent several hours studying the architectural plans,” says Beverly Bohan, owner of Haute Design. “As I reviewed the plans, room by room, the wants and desires of the owners slowly revealed themselves to me. I knew they had been an integral part of the design process, so the architectural drawings told me a great deal about how they envisioned their new home and how they planned to live in it. My job is to get into my clients’ heads. The home’s architectural drawings helped me do that. They were very organic and incorporated a variety of shapes. During a conversation I had with the couple, I made extensive notes of the language used to describe the vision for their home.
I heard words such as ‘soft’ and ‘livable’ and ‘durable.’ They preferred blues to greens, transitional over traditional. They wanted a gathering place for their family and friends, a place where they could connect spiritually and emotionally with each other and their new surroundings.”
Bohan moved her decade-old design firm from Columbia, South Carolina, to Charleston in 1986. Having been a pioneer in Charleston’s thriving design district on upper King Street in its earliest days, she recently moved her firm to Morrison Drive, in the heart of one of the city’s latest restoration ventures. As businesses, restaurants and residential complexes began popping up around her, Bohan was hard at work upfitting her new design studio, creating a space that is inviting and comfortable for her clients and staff. “My clients are an integral part of the interior design process,” notes Bohan. “I believe it’s important to include my clients in the process so they feel part of the design. I think my new location is conducive to a higher level of interaction between the Haute Design staff and our clients. Everyone seems to love it here.”
When the New England couple arrived in Charleston to get their first look at Bohan’s interpretation of the interior design for their oceanside home, she was ready. She guided the couple, room by room, through every selection for the entire house. “I present holistically,” she points out. “Because I’d already leaned heavily into the architecture and listened intently to their language, I was able to present a primary selection and one alternative for every design element in the house. Not a thousand choices, just the two.”
When creating comprehensive interior designs, Bohan always slips into the process wherever her intuition draws her. For this home, the dining room set the initial tone. Because Bohan’s eye for color and placement are impeccable, it’s no wonder she precisely captured the colors of the ocean and marsh flowing in through a bank of windows surrounding the circular dining space. The first item that presented itself in her mind was the table.
“I recalled a table I’d seen several years before on one of my trips to California,” she says. “It was gorgeous. After scaling up the size, I customized it with a durable finish. I also designed a wrought-iron pedestal that looks almost like something you’d see outdoors. The resulting custom-built table looks and feels so organic; it’s perfect for the room’s large space.”
Bohan selected stylish yet functional chairs with legs that have a similar design to the table’s pedestal. She covered them in a textured, cream-colored performance fabric that’s resistant to stains. “Today, the fabric houses use all kinds of fabrics and yarns that are treated in such a way that they’re soft to the touch and beautiful,” explains Bohan. “The performance fabrics of the 21st century are textured, patterned and colorful, and extremely durable.”
Combining two concepts from the Avrett Lighting line, Bohan designed the room’s one-of-a-kind fixture using two finishes on wrought iron. While it’s oversized to fill the space, the fixture is also light and airy to preserve the openness of the room. She then topped the wide-plank walnut floors that run throughout the home with a hemp fiber rug that grounds the room and gives it warmth.
In the kitchen, fixtures over the island were also created by Avrett to the designer’s specifications. Bohan chose to cover the round barstools with sea-blue leather, a rich color borrowed from the printed pillows scattered about the furniture in the adjoining living room. There Bohan began by picking the rug, one that was ideal for Kiawah Island.
“It’s organic,” she notes. “It features a muddled watercolor texture that mimics nature. I wanted to pull those colors inside so there would always be a light, serene feel to the home. To get the perfect piece, sometimes you have to think outside the box. That’s what I did with the coffee table in the living area. I once saw a similar shaped table made of wood. With that inspiration in mind, I designed the table and had it made using wrought iron and glass. It’s exactly what I needed to anchor this large sitting area.”
The focal point of the living room is the fireplace, which features a wraparound wooden mantel painted to look like the marble on the firebox. “We integrated the two to make the wood look like carved marble,” says Bohan. “It’s absolutely perfect for the room.”
The draperies in the living room are made of a breezy Loro Piana fabric. “They’re from Italy,” notes Bohan, “and probably the finest sheers made today.”
For the master bedroom, Bohan focused on comfort. The architect created the perfect canvas for her design, one that features a boxed, paneled accent wall behind the bed that plays off the room’s wainscoting. “I selected a rug with a linen/wool fabric woven into a square pattern that mimics the accent wall,” notes Bohan. “The rug gives the room so much beautiful texture. The bed I selected was actually very traditional, but the way I dressed it makes it look transitional. The bedding looks almost like the flowers that grow right outside the bedroom windows.” Bohan finished the room with seafoam-colored draperies that help frame the natural beauty of the island.
Now that the owners have settled into their new transitional-style home, they are living life exactly as they envisioned it, in a home that’s always welcoming to family and friends. Eventually, notes Bohan, they’ll select art for some of their walls. But for now, they’re enjoying the natural art that flows in through the windows and blends
with their interior design … perfectly.
Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer who lives in Mount Pleasant.