When your design clients are world travelers with a trove of art, collections, antiques and exotic treasures to incorporate into a new construction home, you have to bring your A game. As the designer for hundreds of high-end residential projects and high-profile commercial projects, such as The Restoration on King, Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina and the Elan Midtown apartments, interior designer Beverly Bohan was ready for the challenge. This 5,000-square-foot home on Daniel Island has four bedrooms, four and a half baths, a theater room, a home office, an art studio, a suite for grandchildren, two laundries, an outdoor living area with pool and a specialty workout area.
Bohan, founder of Haute Design Inc., was involved in the process just before the plans were finalized so that she could tweak essential details. “You have to be pliable to take on a project at any given stage,” Bohan says. “A good designer can start at any stage of the process, but in new construction, you want the designer to be involved immediately as part of the architect, design and build team. That’s my forte; it’s what I’ve done for 37 years, working from plans, on construction sites, designing the interiors of a home and layering the furnishings.”
Interior architecture differs and complements interior design because it focuses on the technical aspects of planning and building a home or a room. The Haute Design team is highly qualified, not just in interior design but also in historic preservation, renovations and interior architecture.
Having an interior designer on the team early means they can integrate their client’s lifestyle, special needs and aesthetic preferences that don’t always translate into architectural drawings. “For example, there are so many electrical and other functional details that can get lost when the house is being built,” she says. “It’s less expensive to have an experienced designer determining spatial needs, lighting, how many lumens are required in a room for specific tasks, highlighting art, ensuring there are egress pathways around furniture, and making sure a room feels comfortable instead of overcrowded or under-furnished, which is typical when someone is just trying to upsell a design project to move from one to another. My approach is more about specifically creating the vision, sourcing the design materials and furnishings, then pricing and selecting for the client to suit their lifestyle, preferences and budget.”
Bohan worked with the clients to create a “European Contemporary” home with a mix of classic Charleston elements. Before starting the project, she visited the couple in their current home to see what furnishings, art, antiques, heirlooms and collections they wanted to keep. The clients were building a different home than their previous. Bohan was able to see what they wanted done differently, and how she was going to display all their collected furnishings in their new home.
“It was inspirational for me to see the things that were important to them,” she says. “It was really a gift because it helped me formulate the design aspect. We kept things that were important to them and layered new furnishings into the new home. I wanted to support the main actors, so we just added more one-of-a-kind pieces that were good companions for what they already loved.”
The couple came to Bohan’s office to look at materials, and then she made several trips to design centers to find fabrics that had unique color palettes and were specific to the client’s color scheme. “The house is on the marsh, so we built on that color scheme with variations of blues that remind me of the sky and marsh, how it is constantly changing in colors of the days and seasons,” she says. “Then I used creams and neutrals to support the blues, yellows and soft greens.”
Bohan added texture and interest with custom pieces that aligned and contrasted, such as leathers, bouclé and velvets with pops of color. One crucial design element throughout the home is her use of painted fabrics. “Many fabrics, such as the draperies, throws, pillows and luxurious velvets, are painterly printed florals that draw inspiration from France and all parts of Europe,” she says. Some embroidered fabrics in the living room and the velvet printed pattern were derived from a museum painting, and many were handmade in Thailand.
“I approach each design with the client in mind, their needs, and specifically the location of the property versus approaching it from a designer catalog with a repetitious format as often happens in trendy design projects,” she says. “I design classic, one-of-a-kind projects that give them a nurturing experience when they live in the house.”
The entry is an excellent example of Bohan’s one-of-a-kind foresight. As we enter, niches lit by soft LEDs are home to the couple’s incredible collection of geodes and a unique piece and important piece of artwork. Overhead, a contemporary and slightly whimsical light fixture made of handblown glass bubbles floats above an Oriental rug. From the entry, we see straight through the living area to the verdant marsh, and then the eye is drawn back inside to interesting vignettes of the collections of art, objects and sculpture.
A hallway leads to the left of the entry, and the dining room is to the right. In the dining room, an elegant, round dining table complements an ornate crystal chandelier. This room also has an art niche to house a painting that is important to the couple.
Warm wood beams frame the entry to the kitchen, where we start to see the play between contemporary furnishings, such as the Urban Electric fixtures that echo the brass detail on the hood; the use of wood, such as the overhead beams; and European style elements, such as glass and accessories. Instead of tile or stone slabs, Bohan chose white brick for the backsplash wall and a white hood with brass details.
The couple loves to cook and entertain, so durable, opulent quartzite was a perfect choice for countertops atop warm wood cabinets. A generous rectangular island provides casual seating for five and is surrounded on two sides by comfortable barstools upholstered in soft blue with stainless steel bases.
The English pub-style table in the kitchen has cream leather chairs that provide a pleasant contrast of old and new. Look up, or anywhere really, and you’ll see Bohan’s liberal use of crystal chandeliers and lighting. “The crystal chandeliers are significant because of my client’s love of crystals and geodes,” she explains.
In the living room, Madagascar rosewood cabinets and lighted floating shelves hold treasured objects. The cabinets have touchless latches, so there’s no hardware to stop the eye. Rugs are a new design for the manufacturer, designed by an artist whose rugs are in celebrity homes. “The rugs appealed to the client because it’s an artist’s pattern rather than abstract,” Bohan says.
In this room, the European contemporary style also comes into play. The modern Madagascar rosewood shelving contrasts nicely with an antique highboy nestled into a niche. The sofa is a cream bouclé, chairs are custom-selected Italian leather and the ottoman is cowhide, chosen to be cohesive with the rugs.
Fabric plays an essential role in this project. The living room is home to some of the most delightful examples, such as the sofa pillows, which feature custom-selected fabrics made in Thailand and created by a fabric designer who is world-renowned for luxury and craftsmanship.
Also in the living room, crystal lamps correspond with dangling crystal pendant lights, and marble accents, such as the bowl on the library table behind the sofa, provide a harmonious accompaniment to the other elements in the room. “Overall, this room uses marble, agate and crystals to transition the more traditional Charleston style of the dining room into the living room,” Bohan says.
Looking through the living room and kitchen back wall, the patio has an infinity pool with a sunken fireplace lounge. “This space was designed to be inviting, so the clients could enjoy the marsh views,” Bohan says. The designer chose beautiful root tables surrounded by California rattan chairs.
Back inside, down the hall, we find the primary bedroom and bath with an inviting entry vignette. Just outside the primary bedroom is a rustic cabinet with a wrought-iron base from a company in Mexico. It was made by another artist who devotes his life to fine handcrafted furnishings. The clients wanted their bedroom to be functional, timeless and contemporary with a transitional feel. The bed and nightstands were made to order with a mix of wood and metal. The European-inspired fabrics in this room are in blues and yellows with green accents.
In the primary bath, the dramatic brass soaking tub, with an accompanying antique brass and mirror table, was purchased from an estate in New York. A drapery privacy panel adds an organic note and brings in elements of the outside. On the floor, inset marble tiles in a graphic border pattern create the illusion of a rug. The backsplash is marble and accented by custom mirrors and reeded cabinets.
Up the stairs, we find a theater room with a dark marble fireplace surrounded by a warm sapele slat wall with horizontal steel strips in between. The rug was made in New York to echo the living room, and its use of hides complements the hide on the ottoman. Throughout the space, abstract art carries out the client’s aesthetic vision.
Next to the theater room is a handsome wet bar clad in bold aqua blue tiles. The clients selected the tiles in Bozeman, Montana, and liked the color and indigenous stone pattern. Floating glass shelves hung by wires add a more contemporary feel to the rustic style, while dark wood cabinets provide storage for glassware. The sky blue sofa picks up the color of the tile, echoing the natural motif.
Guest rooms are furnished more whimsically, with a mix of elements that include heirlooms, including a carved bed and dresser. “This furniture was important because she’d had it for decades,” Bohan says. “We took something from the past and rebirthed the room to incorporate generational furniture to modern-day use.” Fabrics are the same painted artistic fabrics used in the primary bedroom.
Another guest bedroom is home to a classically ornamental bed with a duvet custom-made by a French painter. “We gave this room more Charlestonian style by integrating the pineapple lamp, light coastal blue walls, a coastal-inspired painting that matches the custom duvet, a classical ornamental bed and marble-topped side tables,” Bohan says.
Next, a bright, expansive art studio is attached to the upstairs porch that overlooks the marsh. Natural lighting pours into the room, and the view is pure inspiration. The studio has a bit of French style with white-painted brick walls and raw wood shelving. The floor-to-ceiling shelving can be accessed with a ladder and is decorated to be artistically busy with all of the client’s collections. Flooring is Redondo in an artistic color and pattern similar to traditional European flooring.
The office adjacent to the theater room is a cozy, functional room with a red leather chair Bohan used to add warmth to the cool palette—and inspire productivity. Shelves with side lights hold the client’s extensive collection of books.
The children’s suite is designed specifically for the couple’s grandchildren, with two sets of bunk beds and nature-inspired furnishings and fabrics. An attached bath with a contemporary floral motif and a neutral palette will grow with the children. A double vanity with four drawers and a bottom shelf provides enough storage for young overnight guests.
At the end of the project, Bohan recalls what her clients first said to her: “We know what we love, we know the colors we love, and we have so many things we love. We just need someone to help put it together and make it beautiful.”
“We were up to the task because our expertise is envisioning a space, whether it’s in an office, home or hotel, and working to enhance the client’s vision for the project,” Bohan says. “The best interior design isn’t just a reflection of a client’s taste but a blend of form and function, color and texture that is warm, timeless and utterly original. This project is so breathtaking because it’s so balanced and well collected. God gives us the palette, and He also gives us the talent. It’s our job as designers to use both of those things to paint something beautiful for the client.” *
Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.