I’ON OASIS

by ROBIN HOWARD / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

WHEN A CLIENT EXPRESSED INTEREST in adding a few antiques to her home, CHD Interiors designers Terri Baldwin and Megan Sandefur reached out to their various dealers in England. The client had shopped in the CHD Interiors showroom when furnishing her previous home in Georgetown and now wanted help furnishing her home in Mount Pleasant.

Sandefur’s father, Lance Griffith, founder of CHD,
was in England on a buying trip, so, armed with a list of what the client might need, he visited contacts and sent photos home. Baldwin and Sandefur chose the antiques they thought their client would like and shipped them to Charleston. When the client saw what they’d brought home, and their vision for incorporating the antiques into a whole-home design, she asked them to do the interiors for her entire home renovation.

CHD Interiors has been an essential part of the Lowcountry’s design community for more than 40 years. Started by Lance Griffith and Pollye Griffith (Sandefur’s father and grandmother), the mother-son duo could frequently be found designing custom drapes for clients in their home, with Pollye doing the sewing.

The CHD team created a contemporary, eclectic design with a special focus on statement pieces and one-of-a-kind antiques.

Today, CHD Interiors has two expansive showrooms in Mount Pleasant and Murrells Inlet, 30 employees and a host of dedicated, in-house interior designers and craftspeople. The design firm has developed a reputation for out-of-the-box thinking and the ability to create unique accents and furniture. While its space has changed over the years, the company’s mission to offer unique interior design services and one-of-a-kind furnishings and accessories has not.

The firm is also known for its ability to mix many design styles across the spectrum, from one-of-a-kind antiques to the most contemporary furnishings. This creates its signature, eclectic look, which embraces the comfortable, relaxed lifestyle of the South.

Sandefur, who started her professional career as a full-time lawyer in Myrtle Beach, is steeped in a family history of interior design. After a few years as an attorney, she transitioned out of her law career and into her next chapter in interior design. Since she always had a keen sense of style and an eye for design, the transition was seamless.

The homeowner’s parents spend extended vacations in their thoughtfully designed guest suite.

Baldwin holds degrees in both architecture and design, and has been a designer in the Lowcountry for more than 20 years, recently joining the CHD family after having her own design firm. With this foundation, Sandefur and Baldwin combine their respective talents to make a formidable design team.

For this project, their challenge was the interior design for a four-bedroom, three-bath home in Mount Pleasant’s eclectic I’On neighborhood. One of their creative tasks was designing the finished room over the garage (affectionately known as a FROG) to comfortably accommodate their client’s in-laws, who visit from Italy every year. The in-law suite needed a small kitchen and storage, and it had to feel like a home away from home.

The team achieved the homey feel through the use of slipcovered furnishings and a soft palette of blush, green and subtle teal accents. Since the FROG is essentially one large room, the team had a screen fabricated in-house to create a soft barrier between the living space and the sleeping space. The design team also added charm and functionality to the FROG by including a vintage rowboat turned into a shelving unit.

By request, there are no plain walls in the home. The CHD design team used wall treatments in every room to add a layer of visual interest.

When Sandefur and Baldwin began the project, the existing house had a traditional feel, with brown floors and the standard fabric applications. Through teamwork, an enthusiastic client and a lot of trust, today, it’s transformed into a peaceful, family-oriented oasis with a functional, welcoming guest suite.

The client had sold her former home completely furnished, so Baldwin and Sandefur started from scratch, something they both enjoyed. “Our client has an eclectic style and an innate ability to embrace an elegant aesthetic in a relaxed and practical way,” Sandefur says. “We found some amazing statement pieces on our antiques trip, such as a lovely Dutch armoire from the 1900s, and we built the entire design around them.”

The client had a list of requests for the design team: Besides accommodating parents for extended visits, she wanted a neutral color palette, no painted Sheetrock walls, outdoor spaces that would be extensions of the indoors, unaltered antiques and a super-feminine bedroom with lots of pink. The client has young children, so her preferred palette of blush, neutrals, and barely-there blues also had to be family friendly. Baldwin says the
client was open to creativity, which made the project even more enjoyable.

The cozy dining room features antiques from the designers’ European collecting trips.

Since their client didn’t want any plain, painted Sheetrock walls in the home, Baldwin and Sandefur used wallpaper everywhere there wasn’t wood treatment, adding another visual layer to the design. The result is a rich complexity that lends character to the home.

In this project, the designers based the living room plan around a 19th-century French antique birdcage, which is now filled with plants. “It’s something that you wouldn’t automatically choose to build a design on, but it was so important to her. She’s very practical, but she also loves having things just because they’re beautiful,” Sandefur says.

The client valued the idea of using outdoor spaces for living and dining, so the team created separate lounging, dining and conversation areas so the family can take all of their activities outside whenever they want.

The homeowner requested a super feminine bedroom with lots of blush accents.

“We’re excited about this project in many ways, but this home is such a great snapshot of what we can do,” Sandefur says. “CHD Interiors is one of the few full-service designers in the Lowcountry. Every year we go on an antiques buying trip in Europe, so we’re bringing home one-of-a-kind pieces to the showroom. We also have in-house carpenters and ironworkers who can build stands or do other modifications so we can create custom pieces out of antiques and antique architectural elements. Having things that are unique personalizes your home.”

“The key is always to hear what the clients are expressing and transform those thoughts into spaces that make the client happy and reflect who they are,” Baldwin says. “What was so fun about this project is that Meg and I collaborated on it. We brought two minds and aesthetics together in a comfortable working relationship. It was so refreshing, and having two sets of eyes on such a large project meant we were able to give the client all the attention she deserves.”

CHD designers are well versed in a wide variety of aesthetics and welcome the opportunity to stretch their design muscles with new projects. They collaborate with clients on whole-home or single-room design and can work with architects and builders in the planning stages. “It’s also OK if you just want to come in and look at lamps,” Baldwin says. “We like to develop relationships. Our designers have varied specialties, so we have the right fit for any taste.” Everyone is welcome to shop at the Mount Pleasant and Murrells Inlet showrooms. *

Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com