Amid the coastal-cool homes of Kiawah Island, where neutrals and beachy hues reign supreme, Madge and Greg Roshkowski of Kentucky wanted their newly built vacation home to not only reflect their love of color but Greg’s job with one of the world’s largest producers of whiskey barrels, which makes white oak barrels for well-known brands. Those oak barrels are key to the whiskey-making process, with bourbon drawing 50% of its color and flavor from the barrel.
To bring that unique design to life, they’d need what it takes to make a good Kentucky bourbon: the perfect blend of timeless craft and innovation. The family had an instant connection with Beverly Bohan and Amelia Kearney of longtime Charleston design firm Haute Design, who joined forces with Watts Builders and Architecture Plus to conceptualize, build and design the six-bedroom beach home of their whiskey dreams.
“They wanted whiskey staves to be part of the home’s design, and you really can’t do typical coastal white-white everywhere when you’re emulating whiskey,” says Beverly Bohan, principal interior designer of Haute Design. Instead, she and Kearney settled on rich, warm colors—particularly the client’s favored earth-toned hues of green and blue—and a lot of depth and texture.
Bohan traveled to Atlanta to pull fabrics for an inspiring starting point, and as with every client, she and Kearney created a comprehensive storyboard to weave together a story room by room. “We lay out all the fabrics, tiles, finishes and furnishings. And with this client, we nailed it the first time around,” says Bohan. “If you really know your client, the design project and the budget, you don’t have to waste their time and good energy just looking. You make the selections, and when the client walks in, you get a ‘wow’ response.”
Kearney, senior interior designer of Haute Design, adds: “We stayed 100% true to those design boards from installation to completion, so we really had a good rapport from the beginning and were able to execute what they were looking for design-wise.”
While traditional elements like crown molding and baseboards are mainstays throughout the home, the designers thoughtfully peppered spaces with elements evocative of oak barrels, incorporating the homeowner’s barrel staves into morning bars. They even drew inspiration from the dark iron of the barrel strappings for the window treatment rods and oil-rubbed bronze-finish balusters on the staircase.
Upon entry, the first-floor game room presents one of the most creative uses of the barrel staves. The designers fashioned an eye-catching accent wall, interlacing the staves in a unique pattern that, at first glance, resembles leather. “The staves inherently have a curve to them, so we played on those curves by applying them vertically and in a random pattern,” says Kearney about the design that instantly elevated the room. “All of the rooms have their own personality but flow together thanks to these little personal pieces that connect them.”
However, it’s the kitchen that makes the biggest impact and sets the tone for the home’s overall aesthetic. Standouts include a bar built by Doug Watts, which once again stars the homeowner’s barrel staves, a unique range hood in a custom oak stain that complements the white oak floors and an iridescent gold tile backsplash from Palmetto Tile.
“When people think of barrels, they often think of rustic, but we strived for refined touches like the wood-stained hood and floors along with the warm colors,” says Bohan, pointing to perimeter cabinets awash in a muted green color, “Lichen” by Farrow & Ball, and island cabinets in Benjamin Moore “Amherst Grey,” along with Taj Mahal quartzite countertops with waves of rust hues and gold flecks. Two statement pendants custom made by a North Carolina company punctuate the large island.
Carefully designed as an easy extension of the kitchen, the living room impresses with a contemporary fireplace made of dimensional stone for texture, and wooden beams and floating shelves in a wood stain that speak to the kitchen’s oak hood. “That’s what a good design will do. Your eye will flow instead of starting and stopping at different points,” explains Bohan.
The room is brilliantly pulled together with coordinating warm green and blue hues, including a cream sectional crafted with a blue and green weave. “The homeowner was immediately drawn to the green and blue chinoiserie fabric on the accent pillows that dot the sectional. We built the color palette for the room around that fabric,” says Kearney, adding that the designers typically source fabrics from Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles design centers. Those fabrics coordinate with the family’s stoneware pieces from their Louisville home, which now playfully grace the wall between the living room and kitchen. Contemporary and traditional elements mingle throughout the room, including classic blue-and-white porcelain lamps and one-of-a-kind wrought-iron and glass side tables made with inlaid antique doors from France. These last add old-world character with a modern edge.
The centerpiece of the dining room is a custom dining table with a cerused wood finish that seats 10, an ideal place for the large family to gather. A blue buffet snuggled into a nook offers a cheery pop of color, along with window panels that boast the homeowner’s favorite earthy green hue in a fun pattern.
In the main master bedroom, wooden beams work to offset the vaulted ceilings and create an intimate feel, and the designers splashed the room with playful patterns, ranging from florals to contemporary stripes, along with personal touches, like chairs beautifully fitted in a dressmaker detail. Move on to the master bath where high-contrasting elements and warm tones make a dramatic impact. The vanity cabinetry reiterates the oak stain elements seen throughout the home, floors are draped in Calacatta Gold honed- marble tiles, and the vanity backsplash creates a focal point with its graphic pattern. The most impressive feature: double mirrors made of striped onyx in shades of beige, gray and brown that further accentuates the home’s color scheme. “We chose these bold mirrors so that they would stand out and wouldn’t compete with the intricately patterned yet soft color of the backsplash,” explains Kearney. The designers extended that high design to the second master bathroom with a gorgeous emerald green vanity backsplash from Palmetto Tile, which offers a contrasting contemporary vibe to the traditional porcelain floor tile in an old-world pattern, Nola Lafayette. The adjoining master bedroom is also swathed in seafoam green and coral hues—its color scheme inspired by the feminine, sheer window treatments.
This special home, with its nods to Kentucky and barrels of whiskey, now stands out in the sea of Kiawah homes dressed in white and coastal hues. “The homeowner was so happy that she cried tears of joy. The home is beyond her wildest expectations,” says Bohan. “Every one of our houses are different. I think that’s what sets Haute Design apart; we’re not repeating the same design, fabric or furniture over and over again, which makes our designs so sustainable after being in Charleston for more than 20 years.” *
Angela Caraway-Carlton is a Miami-based freelance writer, travel and lifestyle expert, and television producer. Her works have appeared in Indulge Magazine, Time Out, Elysian, Aventura, South Florida Luxury Guide and Modern Luxury Weddings South Florida & the Caribbean. Caraway-Carlton has covered lifestyle trends in South Florida and beyond for more than a decade.