Designer Randolph Cooper’s familiarity with resort-style design aligned with the needs of homeowners Kim and David Siddons. The couple purchased their vacation home overlooking a pond on one of Kiawah Island’s golf courses, where they planned to build a base camp for extended family, including their grown children and their first grandchild. They visited Southeastern Galleries’ showroom in West Ashley, intending to furnish one or two rooms of their newly purchased home. After connecting with Cooper, a designer with his family’s 68-year-old Charleston furniture store, they saw the potential to increase the livability by refreshing every room in their 1980s-era cottage, inside and out.
“This is the home that represents their next chapter, as relaxation with the family comes to the forefront and work transitions to the periphery,” says Cooper. “It’s a coastal cottage that needed appropriate furnishings and design to make it more comfortable and resilient for a growing family, while paying homage to traditional Southern style. Since the homeowners sourced their furniture from a large selection of manufacturers in our 35,000-square-foot showroom, they appreciated the complimentary design services Southeastern Galleries offers.”
“It was important to me that our house be transformed into our home—a place that welcomes our guests while at the same time balancing as a cozy retreat for our family,” says Kim Siddons. “I was new to this process; I had always relied on myself with redesigns because I was under the impression that one designer and one store would limit my approach. Was I ever wrong about that! I was afforded the opportunity to enter the world of design and exposed to the process and discussions with the utmost respect and regard, which I really admire about the philosophy of Southeastern Galleries. And I found the process truly fun.”
To create light and airy spaces reminiscent of coastal resort living, Cooper introduced a palette of greens, blues and creams on furniture and furnishings. “They were happy with the bones of the house, opting to retain existing wall colors and architectural elements. We just needed to add new life through appropriate fixtures, fabric, wallpaper and furnishings. The goal was to make it coastal without the kitsch. Since the home is designed with an open floor plan, modifications to any one room are seen from all the other rooms in the main living space, so we needed a cohesive concept,” he says.
“It was extremely important to me that we maintain the integrity of the house while transforming it in a way to make it ours,” Siddons says. “We are the third owners of this home, and it mattered that we respect that.”
Cooper first set about removing the anxiety of sorting through the plethora of choices in furniture manufacturers, fabrics and furnishings, leading the homeowners through a curated selection that fit their desired lifestyle and design aesthetic. His background in the design industry—including an assignment at Ralph Lauren—prepared him well to help the couple. He started the process by meeting them at Southeastern Galleries’ showroom, encouraging them to experience firsthand the widely varying options of custom upholstery. “It’s an amazing tool at our disposal to be able to bring clients to the showroom to interact with custom goods,” Cooper says. “It takes the guesswork out of what’s comfortable for them.”
From there, he helped them choose performance fabrics in the right colorways that would not only fit the coastal style they were after but also hold up to the wear and tear of a multigenerational family that includes grandchildren. Many of the furnishings are upholstered in performance fabrics by the brand InsideOut; they are easy to care for whether used on interior or exterior furniture. The couple took advantage of the latest generation of performance fabrics, which provide longevity and durability yet still have gorgeous patterns and luxurious textures, unlike the stiff outdoor fabrics of yesteryear.
Outdoor living is plentiful in this home, which is less than two blocks from the ocean. Multiple seating and dining areas indoors and out easily accommodate a large number of family members congregating for eating and lounging. “On a spring or fall night when the weather is agreeable, they can host the entire evening outside,” Cooper says about the home’s screened porch, which is staged with a settee and occasional chairs, as well as the sunroom and a wraparound deck with chaise lounges and a dining table. There are no sight line boundaries between indoor and outdoor living, so Cooper chose furnishings and fabrics that seamlessly integrate the spaces and ensure a unified design.
While performance fabrics are essential on outdoor pieces, the homeowners also enjoy their robustness on interior upholstered furniture. The large den with plentiful seating for visiting family members and guests is the perfect place to put hardworking fabrics to use. “The den is all about comfort—a place where the couple can put up their feet and enjoy a glass of wine and the panoramic views of the waterfront,” says Cooper. “It is the heart of the home and an extension of the kitchen where all the family members gather while Kim cooks a few feet away.” Since they are covered in performance fabric, it’s surprisingly practical to place an upholstered cocktail ottoman and sofa in this room. In front of the fireplace, a set of Mary McDonald performance velvet-covered ottomans in citron green, made-to-order from Chaddock Furniture Workroom, provide additional pull-up seating. The upholstery holds up to grandchildren and ultraviolet light exposure from the surrounding picture windows. A customized rug was templated and cut around the existing fireplace by a specialist on-site for a perfect fit. “Everything will survive the test of time, including the furniture quality and design style,” Cooper says.
A deliberate focus on fabrics and furniture in the kitchen and breakfast room accentuates natural stone countertops and highlights existing architectural elements without a total overhaul. Accessories and décor in these and other rooms are courtesy of Cooper, who sourced from local suppliers and arranged his finds to artful effect.
While the den sports a casual vibe, the adjacent dining room serves as a style bridge between it and the connecting formal living room. “To walk the tightrope between formality and livability, we used rustic finishes and natural woven materials along with fine pieces in the dining room, such as Mottahedeh china and Italian stoneware from Vietri,” Cooper says. A Theodore Alexander dining table from the Althorp Victory Oak collection is made from reclaimed wood so no two pieces are the same. Its old-world finish mixes well with a woven Visual Comfort chandelier and whitewashed chairs that add a splash of coastal energy.
Luxury is prevalent in the primary suite. The main bedroom is outfitted with blush curtains and custom demilune bedside tables from Chaddock that tuck into the space and are accented with sconce lighting. A custom-painted finish and hand-carved cabriole legs speak to traditional design. Luxury hand-embroidered bedding from a London-based manufacturer tops a Theodore Alexander Georgian-style bed for a touch of Southern decadence. A strategically placed, gray-washed secretary performs dual duty as a dressing and work station while visually anchoring a perimeter wall of the bedroom. “Custom whitewash finishes paired with historical silhouettes evoke the feeling of an elevated coastal home,” Cooper says.
Similarly, the primary bathroom is customized with a historical archival wallpaper, featuring a floral and bird motif. Its vertical orientation serves to bring the eye up the wall to add height to the room. Accessories, artwork and custom linens from the en suite bedroom complement the subtle coloration in the hand-stenciled wallcovering.
Southeastern Galleries sourced everything for this home, down to the potted plants and greenery arrangements. For the company’s entire history, it has focused as much on design as selling furniture. By employing designers in-house, the store is able to serve its clientele with full-service, turnkey products and services to renovate one room or an entire home. Designers provide recommendations for wallpaper, paint colors, accessories, lighting and window coverings, in addition to customized furniture. Its longevity in the industry positions Southeastern Galleries to persevere during unexpected supply chain turmoil. “During COVID, our industry witnessed unprecedented production delays. I am proud to say that through my family’s resolve to focus on American-made furniture, our manufacturers were impacted less than those overseas,” Cooper says. “It was and remains our goal to keep the showroom constantly filled with the latest offerings. Throughout the pandemic, we put blood, sweat and tears and major ingenuity into guaranteeing our inventory remained at a high level to serve our customers. We are first and foremost a working showroom.”
Due to full collaboration on this project, the Siddonses and Cooper remain close friends. “I see Kim and David almost weekly. They have become like a second family. From weddings to the blessed birth of their first grandchild, I have been able to share in their joy,” says Cooper. “We had a meeting of the minds, and it was a true collaboration. You can see the homeowner present in every room. It was a marriage of their taste and vision with my design and execution. It’s hard to see where one ends and another begins.”
“I absolutely love that each room tells a story on its own yet flows beautifully with the rest of our home,” Siddons says. “Each room has its own character while seamlessly fitting with the other spaces. It’s akin to working a puzzle, where each piece is unique. When putting it all together, it makes a cohesive and elegant picture.”
Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.