Pastel hues, narrow facades, serene porches—it’s easy to spot a historic home in Charleston. And for those who love historic architecture, these are features that should be cherished.
That’s a sentiment shared by Heidi Huddleston, CKD, the owner of design firm Delicious Kitchens & Interiors. As a designer specializing in bathroom and kitchen spaces, she is skilled and experienced in working to upgrade historic spaces without erasing the charm each property has to offer.
“I love that the historical architecture has been retained. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to work in these historic homes. It’s a responsibility that I take seriously,” the 15-time Best of Houzz winner says.
Originally from New England, Huddleston grew up around homes that were hundreds of years old. With a degree in interior design, she has been working in the kitchen and bath business since the 1990s. In 2001, she earned the title of Certified Kitchen Designer from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and over the years has been an active board member and chapter officer in NKBA chapters in New England, South Carolina and Georgia.
“There aren’t very many of us,” she says of her certification. “Although many interior designers do kitchens, it’s not their area of expertise, and it can be intimidating because there are so many important details to consider.”
In 2014, Huddleston’s family was looking for a change of climate (and scenery), and after looking at communities in Arizona and the South, they were drawn to the Holy City. She admired the prominence of Charleston’s historic district and the fact that it was the first city in the country to create a preservation ordinance. She packed her bags and brought her years of experience and expertise to Charleston clientele.
“There’s certainly a Lowcountry luxe element that wasn’t prevalent with my northeast design acumen, but it’s similar,” she says. “The quirks and nuances and creativity that are requirements for working in historic properties, that part is the same.”
For Huddleston, the draw to kitchen and bath design is the need to be both creative and technical, managing both aesthetics and materials, as well as electrical, plumbing and geometry, to bring a project to life. While she works in homes of all ages, perhaps this is why Huddleston has excelled in historic settings. When working in an antebellum or Victorian-era home, she not only needs to account for cabinetry, appliances and design elements but also must adhere to local ordinances—often, you can’t change windows, doors and other exterior elements. “We need to incorporate modern features while maintaining the spirit of the home’s original design,” she says.
The designer explains that in homes built before 1900, you’ll be hard-pressed to find indoor plumbing. Bathrooms were also not a part of the main home’s interior design until recently. When updating a home, Huddleston has found numerous creative solutions. For example, she was able to give one client bathroom mirrors by placing them on the back of the two interior window shutters, providing them with a functional, modern bathroom without interfering with the windows. In a recent kitchen project for a house built in the 1790s, she installed a pop-up outlet on the countertop as running wiring through brick is a challenge, to say the least. For a project South of Broad, Huddleston worked with the contractor to install a hatch below a built-in glass-front hutch in the dining room. The integrated mahogany cabinet looks original, but it can be pulled out, revealing a floor hatch that allows technicians the space to easily climb below the house to access the HVAC and electrical systems.
No matter if the home is a new build or one that has seen America’s earliest days, Huddleston utilizes a 12-step process for each client to reach their design goals. From the initial consultation to revealing a completely unique project, time and time again, she often creates custom colors and tailor-made design plans to ensure there are never cookie-cutter designs during the big reveal.
“I’m known for listening to my clients and exceeding their expectations by asking a lot of questions and determining what is important to them, and I never do the same thing twice,” she says. “For each project, the unique design is proprietary, and clients appreciate the special details I incorporate.”
Christiana Lilly is a freelance journalist in Pompano Beach, Florida. See more of her work spanning the arts, community news and social justice at christianalilly.com.