There’s something special about a 1920s house; the architecture reflects the lighthearted attitude of the era, and we start to see hints of the practicality and modernism that were to come. Still, the way we live in our homes has changed drastically over the last century, and even the best 1920s house needs a rethink to keep up with its modern family. The question is, how do you protect the history and charm of a historical home while preparing it for the future? For the owners of this 1925 home in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village, you call Betsy and Rich Glass, the architecture and design team behind the luxury design firm The Flippin Designer.
Their challenge was a total interior and exterior renovation of a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on a nearly 7,000-square-foot lot. The renovation included the home, landscaping, outdoor living area, pool house and a guest suite with kitchen, laundry and full bath. “My clients moved to Mount Pleasant from Manhattan, and they love classic Hamptons design,” Betsy Glass says. “They wanted to keep the 1920s vibe but make it 2030 functional.” She proposed a re-layout of the whole home, plus sleek finishes, lots of wainscoting, moody colors and paint sheens for a decidedly vintage-modern feel.
If you didn’t pick up on the hint in their playful name, The Flippin Designer is not your standard interior design firm. The Glasses combine the expertise of an architect and designer with an unlimited and eclectic style range. “We go beyond a normal design company. We do 2-D and 3-D renderings and CAD floor plans so clients can see the finished project with every detail intact, including flooring, furniture, tile, countertops, paint and lighting,” Glass says. When a project is finished, all the clients have to do is start enjoying it.
As we enter this home, we get a taste of what to expect. The entry floor is wide-plank oak laid in a chevron pattern, and the walls are covered in wainscoting painted in Sherwin-Williams “Waterloo” blue on the bottom and white on the top. The ceiling is also the same blue, which is where we get the first hint of that moody vibe. Straight ahead is the dining room, to the right is a stairwell to the second floor, and to the left is a stunning open-concept living room and kitchen.
In the living room, a glorious Minotti sofa, custom made in Italy, invites you to linger. Glass picture-framed the original brick fireplace and had a custom mantel made to match the crown molding and baseboards throughout the house. In a bold move, all trim is painted in Sherwin- Williams “Inkwell” to match the kitchen cabinets.
To the right, the formerly tiny kitchen has been transformed into an expansive and functional gathering space with a generous island and plentiful custom cabinets. The island features waterfall butcher block on both sides so the cook can prep and stir simultaneously. In a stroke of genius, Glass left the backs off the glass-front upper cabinets and used shimmery, uneven 3-by-3-inch vintage gin blossom tile. When it’s lit up, you can see the imperfections that give it that old-school charm.
Speaking of old-school, the scene-stealer in this room is the seating counter and beverage center that face the lush backyard. The brick wall is original to the home, and this area has become a favorite place for the kids to eat or do their homework.
Behind the kitchen, the dining room is a cozy jewel that encourages long dinners. The built-in wine storage under the stairs has a tall custom wine fridge and gold-plated pegs for displaying double bottles. Notice the white oak beam running across the ceiling; it’s an original beam that helps hold up the house. “Most people would have boxed it in with drywall to hide it, but we wrapped it in oak so you can see an original part of the home,” Glass says. She also tricked out the stairway, replacing the wood railings with lit glass panels. In the evening, this room glows.
Back in the entry, we can access the delightful playroom designed especially for the client’s young children. This room features a sweet little table where they can make art or do homework; floor-to-ceiling custom cabinets that hide books, crayons and other detritus; and a hidden TV.
To the right is that impressive glowing stairway. Glass points out that the stairs are bookended, which is a difficult feat of craftsmanship where riser and stair tread meet at a 45-degree angle to reduce material waste. The post and beam are load-bearing and can’t be moved; wrapped in white oak, they become part of the stairwell.
Upstairs is a guest room, a full guest bath, the primary bedroom and bath, and the kids’ rooms. If the primary bedroom is a tranquil haven with custom furniture and lighting, the bathroom is a luxurious oasis. When Glass started demolishing the primary bath, she found dead space that used to be a closet with massively deep and useless shelves. She reclaimed the space for a huge walk-in shower that features floor-to-ceiling Italian marble. This room sparkles with the elegance of the Great Gatsby era.
Wandering outside, we get to take in the incredible landscaping and outdoor living space Glass created under the massive 30-foot pergola. The space is anchored by an enormous fireplace and has a dining room, a living room and a kitchen. Step down to the pool, cross the brick and turf driveway, and you’ll find the pool house and guest suite. The pool house has a folding window for bar service, two sets of French doors, cement tile floors, a custom kitchen and unique acoustic wall panels that mimic teak. Follow the stairs, and you’ll find a swanky guest nest complete with a kitchenette, massive bathroom and a washer and dryer.
The sheer scale of this renovation is enough to be impressive; that the design team successfully revived and blended the aesthetic splendor of the Jazz Age with modern Lowcountry ease is genuinely remarkable.
Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston.
See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.