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South Carolina Home Tour - Custom Kitchen Cabinetry

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Name: Anne (who goes by Annie), husband Steve, and adopted dogs Spark and Maisel
Location: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Size: 3,200 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

Annie, who is a painter, and her husband, Steve, found their house after a long and extensive hunt to live in downtown Charleston. Properties were selling quickly and they were still living in Chicago. It felt like they had little chance of snagging something that fit their needs and budget because everything went under contract so quickly. Finally, on the last night of a weekend trip to look at potential homes, Annie’s sister said, “Get in the car — I am driving you by a few places in Mount Pleasant. Let’s just see what is on the market in your price range.” She was right — they could get much more bang for their buck and the houses were sitting on the market a bit longer, which gave them a better chance.  

Annie and Steve’s realtor squeezed them in to see those few Mount Pleasant properties the next morning before their flight. The sunroom in this house literally made Annie’s jaw drop.  The natural light and the indoor-outdoor feel was beyond anything Annie had imagined and was also exactly why they were looking to move. Steve and Annie didn’t want to live in the suburbs, but at the same time they were leaving Chicago for a different quality of life and a more outdoor, active lifestyle.  A good friend in Chicago said, “As long as you are going through all the trouble of moving — you might as well make the most of it and find a home that lives totally differently than here.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I have a penchant for patina. My style mixes flea market finds with hand-me-down family pieces. I love to combine clean lines with organic materials and surfaces that show their age. This home is a true expression of  “slow design” because so many of the spaces came together at a snail’s pace, and are sort of always in progress. 

Inspiration: My career prior to being an artist was in interior design. I worked for Michael Del Piero in Chicago and that experience really honed my eye and imagination in terms of materials, proportion, color, editing, and compromise. I learned to trust my instincts at an antique mall, garage sale, or even in my mom’s basement.  

Favorite Element: The kitchen “window” cabinet is my absolute favorite and I may never be able to sell the house because of it. I found the windows in Michigan right before we were moving to South Carolina and fell in love with them, but it was sort of impractical to buy four giant windows without knowing what I would do with them, so I hesitated. Thank goodness my sister convinced me to go back and buy them — impracticality be darned. She was oh so right. (thank you Ruthie!) Steve and I loaded them in a van and drove them to our new garage in South Carolina where they sat for over a year until we came up with a plan for them and found the custom woodworker to make it happen. The cabinet was actually built more than a year before we took on the whole kitchen remodel. I guess we put the cart before the horse, but it worked!

Biggest Challenge: One of the biggest challenges was finding the right contractor. Building in our area is booming, so the contractors can be hard to get a hold of and quite picky about the projects they take on. We didn’t have a huge budget, and wanted to accomplish a lot. We ended up waiting until the craftsman who built our vintage window cabinet got his contractor’s license so we could work with him. The wait was so worth it because we had fun working together, knew he had a similar creative process to ours and went out of his way to make things right.  

Proudest DIY: One of my favorite DIYs is the mudroom. Originally it was basically a room of closets and storage and felt really claustrophobic. One day Steve went on a bike ride and I decided to “just start taking the doors off” the closets. Next thing I knew there was a massive pile of lumber and doors and shelves in the garage and I had unearthed a really big room! It took a couple months, but eventually we repainted the floor, replaced the baseboards, painted the walls, built a custom bench with the discarded lumber, added sconces, and now it is such an incredible “work horse” of a space. I prepare paintings to ship in there, do yoga, guests use it to change into their swimsuits, it has a beer fridge — the list of functions goes on and on…

Biggest Indulgence: The biggest cost was the countertop. And yes, I love it every moment of every day from making coffee to cleaning the dishes, to reading a magazine, to chatting with Steve while he cooks dinner. It is so unique and cool and helped make design-sense of the black cabinets.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The people who lived here before us had the dining room in the living room and vice versa. I’m not really sure which way it is “supposed” to be — but for us this made the most sense and has the best flow. I’ve heard that our house has gone through many transformations with its various owners — one person even used the garage as a TV room at one point — and put in wood paneling and carpet. We definitely use the garage as a garage — and the ’70s wood paneling in there just adds extra flair. 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Right now I am loving the rug I found for our living room because it required an odd size and took A LOT of hunting.  Once it was in the space — the room instantly transformed from a hallway with a couch in it to a cohesive, cozy, elegant room.   

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space  maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Plant stands in the shower! For some reason, we are very opposed to shower niches — but obviously still need to keep soap and shampoo handy. I started searching for teak shelves and benches but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Then I went down the plant-stand rabbit hole and “voila” found the perfect little table to store shower products and keep some plants happy on top. If you have the space — I highly recommend it; I mean who doesn’t want to feel like they are showering in a greenhouse? 

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Art, art, and more art. Art can change the mood of a room in as long as it takes you to hammer a nail. You can move it around over time and it feels like you re-designed your whole room. Purchase pieces that kick up something in you: a smile, a tear, a gasp, a sense of peace, a memory — buy it and you won’t regret it because stirring your soul never goes out of style. 

DINING ROOM                                                                                                          

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

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