Bring the Lowcountry into your home
Story by Mary Hall
Nothing says Lowcountry in your home like the timeless colors of sand and surf with the endless light of the sun. Always in style with the inviting warmth of Southern hospitality, the colors of our natural environment speak to your heart and make you feel welcome.
Whether redecorating or starting from scratch, adding touches that speak Lowcountry capture the coastal look, making it feel like summer year-round inside your house.
[blockquote position=”right”]The essence of Lowcountry design is creating a welcoming environment that promotes comfort, relaxation and a tranquil lifestyle, and brings the outside indoors.” — Cheryl Wilson, a designer at Plantation Interiors.[/blockquote]
Light and airy is the key and be sure to keep it natural. Use materials found in nature, such as seagrass and sisal area rugs, which are attractive, sustainable, stain-resistant, and easy on the toes; woven baskets to add texture and warmth. Neutral wood floors or vinyl look-alikes are easy to care for and clean, and nearly sand-resistant when coming home from the beach. And bring some sunshine in with whites and beiges, whether in paint, tile backsplashes, woodwork or furniture.
Furnishings that carry forward the beachy Lowcountry theme are inspired by weathered furniture, with shades of gray, sand and white. Try layering textures, which introduces natural elements into interiors.
“One of the easiest ways to introduce a coastal feel to the interior is through color, echoing the surrounding blues, grays and greens found in nature,” said Melissa Mittag, Director of Brand Management for J Banks Design Group. “Grass cloth, driftwood, bleached woods, washed linens all bring in a coastal feel. Incorporate tabby fireplaces, which are historically accurate and introduce a beautiful artisanal feel to any space.”
Use nature for inspiration to bring the outdoors into your home. Accessories and art that add a touch of Lowcountry include distressed wood, Japanese fishing floats, driftwood and local books, as well as artwork, such as seascapes, marshviews, shellfish and Gullah art, said Wilson.
Try adding nautical accents, typically found in traditional coastal homes, but don’t overdo. And have some fun with it by adding a touch of the look of seaglass with sparkling blue/green glass jars or vases.
Why not be playful? If you love fishing (no one just “likes” it!) add a colorful fish accessory. Or try a surfboard or fish netting in the entry. But don’t be afraid to go a little glam: Old-school glamour is right at home and personalizes the space by adding accents that speak to you and reflect your interests with style and color.
Five steps to capturing the essence of the Lowcountry
1. Use pale finishes, with shades of soft blue, aqua, sandy gray, beige and white, evoking the colors of the sun, sand and surf in paint, tile, flooring and fabrics.
2. Use natural materials – stone and tile, wood, baskets, linens, area rugs.
3. Bring the light indoors – Extend natural light into your space with light and bright design elements such as skylights, glass tile backsplash, glass doors and sinks.
4. Give a nod to classic coastal style in a chic way.
5. Spice it up with some fun, quirky twists of your own – go beachy & bold.
Five THINGS TO AVOID A DESIGN DISASTER
(from HGTV personality David Bromstad’s show, Beach House Flips)
1. Decorate around a theme – shells, seahorses, seaweed – you get the drift. Too much is too much!
2. Buy every nautical accessory you see.
3. Default to wicker.
4. Install carpet.
5. Rule out any design colors.
Haint blue is a traditional color used in Lowcountry homes. It was thought by the Gullah to ward haints, or ghosts, away from the home. The ceiling of the slave quarters at the Owens-Thomas House in Savannah, built in the early 19th century, was painted haint blue. The pigment was sourced from crushed indigo plants.
The tactic was intended to either mimic the appearance of the sky, tricking the ghost into passing through, or to mimic the appearance of water, which ghosts traditionally could not cross. The Gullah would paint not only the porch, but also doors, window frames and shutters. Blue bottle trees in the yard are also thought to keep evil spirits away.
Source: Telfair Museum, Savannah
Go on local house tours for inspiration, or online — think Pinterest and Instagram, then shop local businesses to bring the coastal look into your home and live the local lifestyle.