It was a once-in-a-lifetime find—an undeveloped spit of land at Garden City Beach with a magnificent 270-degree view that includes beachfront, open marshlands and the historic seaside town of Murrells Inlet. The owner envisioned building a home befitting such an extraordinary site, one that would serve as a beach retreat for his family while evoking an endearing sense of days gone by in the region.
“It’s a historic-looking house,” states Lance Griffith, the owner of CHD Interiors, which designed the interior for the home. “It’s not a period-to-the-detail kind of house or a new beach house. Instead, it looks like a well-maintained beach house that has been there for 100 years but has been redone as it’s gone through time.”
According to Griffith, the home was designed and built by Frasier S. Wall III, who owns a design/build firm in Murrells Inlet. “It was a real collaborative effort between the owner, Frasier and my interior design firm,” points out Griffith. “Being part of creating a new old beach house was fun, and such a great experience.”
Griffith says he and his wife, Patty, moved to the Murrells Inlet/Pawleys Island area about a year out of college. The couple, along with his parents, opened CHD Interiors in Murrells Inlet nearly 40 years ago, offering interior design services, as well as furniture and home accessories for homeowners along the South Carolina coast from Myrtle Beach to the Charleston area. CHD Interiors recently opened a second store and design studio in Mount Pleasant to better serve its clientele in the Charleston area. “We travel all over Europe searching for antiques for both of our stores,” adds Griffith.
CHD Interior handcrafts many of the pieces they use in their designs from antique pieces they find on their trips. “We love creating lamps from items like old buoys or glass bottles,” explains Griffith. “Once we started with an antique table, added an upholstered edge and used it as a combination ottoman/coffee table.”
The firm now boasts 21 employees, including eight designers. “My daughter, Megan, is now in the business,” notes Griffith. “So there are three generations of us here…so far.”
While the firm is skilled in designing all styles of interiors, from contemporary to traditional to antique, the area’s “shabby chic” setting has inspired a “Lowcountry chic” style, which the company has perfected through the years.
“We want our homes to look like they were acquired, not decorated,” explains Griffith. “When someone walks into a room, I want them to think that the things in it were collected over 20 or more years. It shouldn’t be picture perfect. Although we understand [the principles of] balance, color and scale, I’d rather the color be a bit off—or a piece of furniture be a little bit out of scale. When a room feels acquired and has a little quirkiness about it, it feels like it’s been lovingly put together instead of designer decorated.”
This Lowcountry chic look was a perfect fit for the new-old beach house built near Murrells Inlet. To give the home’s interior its century-old look, Griffith selected cypress walls and heart-pine floors for much of the home. “We used tabby extensively throughout the house,” he notes. “Also, there’s a lot of wood with boat-builder type details in the extensive woodwork.”
French and English country antiques throughout give the home the period look the owner was after. High-end fabrics by Pierre Frey and Brunschwig & Fils add texture and color to the various rooms.
“Much of what we used throughout this house was unexpected, things that have been repurposed, things that are a little awkward for the spot they are in,” says Griffith. “It feels like a century-old family home that still has pieces from each generation that’s lived there.”
Patra Taylor is a Charleston-based writer.