The phrase “Southern charm” brings to mind delightful images, wonderful memories, soft sounds, generations of tradition and a distinctive lifestyle. Live oaks and magnolia trees, flowing creeks and magical marshes, friendly neighbors, front porches, a sense of being, comfort and a quiet contentment … you get the picture.
Now picture a Lowcountry cottage in a homey neighborhood in a quaint town that embodies “Southern charm.” Picture Habersham, a stone’s throw from Beaufort, and which was selected last year as South Carolina’s Inspired Community by Southern Living magazine.
The award-winning planned community exemplifies the Southern lifestyle and is hosting the first Inspired Homes Tour through June 7. Patrons can view the interior of two newly built homes designed in classic Lowcountry style that were sponsored by Southern Living and Coastal Living magazines. The tour is the first time Habersham has featured both publications’ brands together in one event.
J Banks Design Group of Hilton Head Island was selected to work its magic with the interior design and furnishings of Southern Living magazine’s Inspired Home on Canton Row in Habersham. Coastal Living magazine’s Inspired Home is on Abbey Row. J Banks Design accepted an invitation to join the Coastal Living and Southern Living Designer Network, a recently formed partnership that exposes a brand-credentialed group of interior designers to key markets across the country, and the design firm began work on Southern Living’s Habersham home in February.
Lisa Whitley, who has been an interior designer with J Banks since 2007, was named head of the Habersham project, which was completed in mid-May.
“I just wanted to make sure I portrayed the lifestyle that Habersham is all about,” said Whitley, a Georgia native whose professional portfolio includes worldwide awards and kudos in residential and commercial interior design.
“What this means is a Southern Living builder — Allen Patterson Residential in Beaufort — as well as a Southern Living designer — J Banks — work together to do a home in a Southern Living community, which is Habersham,” Whitley said. “Inspired Homes bring all the elements of Southern living into one home, so you’re getting the entire idea of what Southern living [EH1] portrays with a home: Southern-style hospitality, how people really live in the South. It can be casual, it can be formal; in our case, it’s more of a casual living style.”
The two-story cottage, which is slightly less than 1,800 square feet, features three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a laundry room, an owner’s entrance, an open floor plan showcasing the living room with a fireplace, a small dining room, a kitchen, and, of course, a spacious front porch. Ten-foot-high ceilings contribute to the open air ambiance of the downstairs.
“It’s very much a small cottage, but it’s extremely livable,” Whitley said. “The spaces where people actually spend their time live very big.
“We had a clear vision of what the home needed to be,” Whitley said. “Habersham is a very community-oriented place; they love their neighbors, which is very much what I would say is the Southern lifestyle. When you think about what’s great about living in the South, and especially here in the Lowcountry, it’s the old front porches, it’s very neighborly with people coming over to each other’s houses.”
It’s a cozy model home that welcomes neighbors with outstretched arms and a convivial Southern spirit, all set in a soothing genteel environment.
“I tried to evoke very Southern traditional materials that you would have seen in a house 100 years ago, but use them in a fresher way to make it feel like a timeless design,” Whitley said.
For the interior color scheme, she loaded up her palette using nature’s beauty as her inspiration.
“I pulled colors from living here in Beaufort County,” Whitley said. “I pulled colors from the marsh, I tried to pull colors from low and high tides … you catch so many colors or ranges of colors, just the colors of what you’ll see in an oyster shell versus the colors of the pluff mud at different times when the tide is coming in or the marsh grass that has a really bright green color … so I tried to pull those colors into the house while still making it feel really comfortable. I tried to use colors in a thought-provoking manner to where it didn’t feel trendy at all … classic.”
Visitors are immersed in light grayish greens, light blueish grays, a darker pluff mud tone that straddles between brown and gray, whites, oyster shell blues and lavenders, and bursts of bright colors from the artwork and accent pieces.
Amidst the colors of this backdrop, it’s easy to navigate the downstairs living space.
“In what I call the living room is where you have your upholstery seating,” she said. “It’s very much open to the kitchen, which is very much open to the dining room. Those elements are where people spend the majority of their time.”
The kitchen sits center stage in the open floor plan. White Shaker-style cabinets with bronze hardware complement the honed-finished soapstone countertops and subway tile backsplash in a beveled-edge design. A dark-hued horizontal butt board anchors the backside of a 7-foot island, and a collage of baskets adds texture to the space.
A brick fireplace framed by bookcases centers the living room, which is filled with casual living upholstered chairs and a “clean design transitional” couch from the J Banks collection. An oyster shell chandelier highlights the small dining room, which features a wall of windows to let the outside shine in.
A prefinished oak floor in a “wire brush” matte finish visually connects the three rooms.
The colors in the master suite’s bathroom change throughout the day as the sunlight glides throughout the room, creating an oasis of comfort. Porcelain flooring in a matte finish, an oversized shower with gray subway tile walls touching the Carrara marble below, and granite vanity tops radiate with luxury.
Yes, this Habersham cottage is a splendid model home, but it doesn’t look and feel like one. Here’s why: “It’s not necessarily how much money you put into the house; it’s how you put yourself in the house,” Whitley said.
The Inspired Homes Tour runs through from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays through June 7. Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry. For more information, call 877-542-2377 or visit habershamsc.com/inspired.
Vendor List: Southern Living home
Lisa Whitley, J Banks Design Group
Allen Patterson Residential
Allison Ramsey Architects
Artwork, Accessories and Accent Furniture:
J Banks Design Group