A historic downtown home receives a major face-lift to create a cozy vacation pad

by DANA W. TODD/photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

When Nora and David Kennedy purchased the upstairs duplex unit in a charming historic home in Charleston’s French Quarter, Realtor Gentry Todd referred the couple to CHD Interiors to give the entire space a fresh look. Hailed as the family’s new “Charleston crash pad,” the home had tons of character, albeit hidden behind layers of drywall, dropped ceilings and old paint. Interior designer Gabrielle Pendarvis of CHD Interiors, a full-service interior design firm that provides turnkey services and two retail locations full of one-of-a-kind home furnishings, began with gutting the entire interior of the two-bedroom, two-bath home.

As a native Charlestonian, Pendarvis knew exactly what the historic duplex needed: uncover the existing character and charm and add a dose of lighthearted color to create the cozy and quaint vacation home the homeowners wanted. Removing layers of drywall from the original brick chimney added natural texture to the new living room while removing the main bedroom’s ceiling to expose wooden beams added architectural interest. “Exposing these natural elements provides coziness,” says Pendarvis. “A herringbone brick pattern added to the main bathroom’s floor adds even more character.”

The formerly narrow galley kitchen received the biggest face-lift, becoming an open kitchen with an eat-in island topped with Fantasy Gray marble. Base cabinets in the home’s signature color, Benjamin Moore “Gentleman’s Gray” (which is actually a blue hue), are offset by open wooden shelving in place of upper cabinets against a brick backsplash. Butcher block countertops coordinated with full custom cabinetry impart a sense of practicality and luxury. The new kitchen is even spacious enough for a built-in desk for handling essential tasks.

“I love how the kitchen transformed the entire space,” says Pendarvis. “We raised the ceiling as high as we could and mixed finishes, such as made-to-order Rocky Mountain hardware pulls and distressed oil-rubbed bronze and black iron lighting.”

Pendarvis chose “Gentleman’s Gray” to play its part in the homeowners’ requested red, white and blue color scheme. Other touches of blue pervade the home, including the homeowners’ antique rugs, Thibaut tribal-inspired ikat custom window treatments in the living room and a Century Furniture sofa designed with custom blue upholstery. “I added pops of red throughout the home on accessories such as throw pillows sourced from our retail showroom,” she says.

Creativity helped turn underused spaces, such as the foyer’s small coat closet, into fun entertaining spaces. In place of the closet, Pendarvis designed a dry bar with lacquered maroon paint surrounding the homeowners’ existing chest and added a wallpapered backsplash for interest, complete with a custom cowhide runner. She also reinvented the small main bathroom, freeing up space by relocating the washer and dryer, which provided extra room for a shower, double vanity and true water closet with frosted door.

Designing this home during a time of an unprecedentedly slow supply chain could have been a problem, but Pendarvis had a ready solution. “CHD Interiors’ two showrooms in Mount Pleasant and Murrells Inlet have inventory on hand, which I took advantage of to complete the space, including readily available pillows, chairs and mirrors,” she says. “With more than 40 years of developing vendor relationships, CHD Interiors can source everything needed for a turnkey design project. One of the reasons why CHD is such a great design firm is that we can get our hands on what our clients are searching for.”

Homeowners rely on CHD Interiors not only for design advice and implementation, from the architectural stage to move-in day, but also for its connections to fabricators who custom design furniture, lighting, window treatments and more for a truly unique look. CHD Interiors even sources antique and vintage finds from all over the world for its Lowcountry clients. Complete turnkey service adapts to clients’ budgets by using both pre-made and purely custom sources. “CHD Interiors is the place homeowners come when they want something special made to order,” Pendarvis says.

The Kennedys agree; CHD Interiors created a special vacation home for them. Now all they need to do is take a seat on their newly curated outdoor balcony, sip coffee and take in the scene of blooming flowers and the city’s historic chapels right outside their back door.

Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.

More Information