I can finally post my finished photos of our Charleston project since they are published in this month’s Urban Home Magazine. Thank you Urban Home, I truly appreciate the wonderful feature.
Some of you have followed the Charleston project along the way and now I can share the final transformation of this grand old lady who made it through the Civil War, the Great Earthquake and Hurricane Hugo. One of my readers recently took a picture standing outside the house and sent it to me…it was really nice to see!
Here’s what it was like during:
Besides correcting the structural issues, the bathroom was the trickiest in an aesthetic sense. This is a totally typical daily phonecall between Harper Finucan (the wonderful contractor) and myself.
“Hello Happy?” (His nickname)
“Hello ma’am, it’s Harper Finucan…” (At this point we are talking several times a day so the formality always tickled me).
“Yes, hello Happy, how’s it going down there on Water Street?”
“Well ma’am, we’ve run into a small problem. We opened things up in the Master Bathroom and there’s a solid brick wall running straight through where you want to put your new vanity.”
“I see. Can you tell me how much it’s going to cost to take down that brick wall from 1857 that’s running through the middle of where I want to put my vanity?”
Silence. Long pause. “Hmmmm. I will have to do some figuring. But we can do it. We always find a way to do it.”
“Awesome Happy. That’s what I love about y’all. Just give me an idea so I can get up with my client.”
There were lots of calls like that and most of them went just fine. We had some real problems along the way…sloped ceilings, fun house door ways, floors that gave you the drunk feeling that you just had eight mint juleps on a humid day, you know…old house stuff. The house sits on Water Street which is literally on the water. When the tide comes in you can hear the water rushing down the street in an old sewer system. The worst was the black mold. And it was literally crawling up the walls when we removed the old kitchen backsplash. We had to remediate that properly- which was an unexpected and very unpleasant surprise.
Here are the bathroom befores:
Here are the construction photos. This is where we made room for a little bigger shower. You can see the challenge of the sloped old ceilings.
At one point we had trades going in and out of the second story window:
The blue tape is where the vanity will be. I like to get a real sense of where things will be located and what the scale will be. Drawings are great and necessary but my old friend blue tape always shows my client exactly what’s going down. Literally. Works for furniture layout too.
Let’s move that tape again for Amy. Bless anyone that’s ever worked with me.
I put in a window where there was formerly an unfortunate mirror above the old tub. Not the easiest trick because of the old exterior but I felt strongly about it since the old bathroom was so dark and cramped feeling.
New window, new tub! The light fixture is an antique Half and Half. It was originally half gas and half electric as people didn’t quite trust electricity when it first made it into the home. And it truly wasn’t always reliable. One never knew if the lights would come on when they threw the switch eighty years ago. I chose a modern sconce from Visual Comfort to compliment the antique one.
Putting in the vanity:
Putting in the brace for the mirror:
Here’s Mr. Harper Finucan. I think I gave him every gray hair on his head. And the man is a saint!
Locating the plumbing in the field. And the marble tiles are in!
Here we start the Afters!
The tub with its new window:
The shower detail:
I designed the vanity to allow for two sinks in a space where we didn’t have a lot of length, but a lot of depth. I floated the mirror so you can see through on either side with a continuous counter top for maximum surface area. This is where Happy demo’ed a crumbling (but sturdy) brick wall and you can see the new light sconces on the mirror that work well with the antique Half and Half ceiling fixture.
Because the mirror wall doesn’t go all the way to the wall, it opens up the bathroom nicely.
Bedroom on the third floor overlooking Water Street. One of the challenges on upper floors in older homes is the lack of heating and cooling. We put in a mini split which provides great air conditioning in these former servant quarters.
The hallway after we straightened the floors. The beautiful old Antique Heart Pine is delicious.
The original stairway is lovely and I decided on a modern David Hicks patterned carpeting.
The Butlers Pantry. We removed an old elevator that didn’t function and installed a wine cellar for my client. Before the elevator, it was a creepy dark stairway for the servants. We made the decision to leave the old brick exposed and keep the kitchen smaller to preserve some of the character of the house.
The kitchen is small but totally functional. There are floor to ceiling pantry cabinets that we installed since there was no storage. Obviously when this house was built, there was no kitchen inside and many Charleston homes from that time period have smaller kitchens compared to newer homes of the same size. Kitchens are put in spaces that weren’t originally intended for that purpose.
I chose a leathered Absolute Black countertop and Calcutta Marble mosaic backsplash. We had used this Shaw’s farmhouse sink at my client’s previous residence and he liked it so much we did it again.
I love the light and airy family room off the kitchen that looks out to the courtyard:
The courtyard has been featured in several Charleston magazines and I can tell you from many hours of sitting out there that it is as idyllic as it looks.
The living room is one of my favorite spots. My client has a wonderful art collection and we had fun placing his pieces in rooms with fourteen foot ceilings. The ceiling medallions are just wonderful. I wish you could see the intricate carved original plaster in detail. I swooned when we looked at the house the first time.
Details from the Living Room: I’m insane over this solid rock crystal lamp.
You can see the ceiling medallion reflected in the eglomise top of the cocktail table:
There is another medallion in the Dining Room and I love the carved chandelier from Niermann Weeks to compliment it. I chose a Niermann Weeks piece for the Living Room as well.
Thank you for making it through this post! I don’t know about you but I sure would like to be sitting here now enjoying the warm breezes from the bay with a good book.
If you would like to read the article in Urban Home Magazine, please read here.
pretty pictures by Tim Buchman
Thanks for reading,
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