DESIGNING HOMES THAT EMBODY THE LOWCOUNTRY STYLE
Lowcountry style means different things to different people, from the traditional origins in the late 18th century (think Savannah) to the modern day that has incorporated traditional elements into 21st century splendor.
Homes were built for comfort, practicality and for keeping the interior cool to provide an escape from the hot, humid southern weather. This included double-hung windows, porches to capture the afternoon breezes, transoms, pilings to raise the first floor to allow cooler air to circulate beneath the home and protect against high water tides, wraparound porches with awnings, and shutters for bringing the outside light and ventilation in.
Now shutters are merely decorative, as is much of the hardware that graced homes in the past, and they lend themself now to striking curb appeal.
“In my opinion, the Lowcountry style is all about casual living, resort-type living, how we entertain and live our lives in this beautiful tropical environment,” said Sharon Cleland, interior designer with J. Banks Design Group on Hilton Head.
Woven materials like rattan and seagrass and “casual finishes mixed with more polished finishes” are popular, as are greenery, neutral grays and colors (corals, bright blues and greens) that are making a “big comeback,” she said.
Millwork with textures and shutters, floors and trim details also are no longer drab or an afterthought to today’s design process.
“Practicality and comfort still apply, but we want to make it fun,” Cleland said she says to her clients. “I want to inject your soul into your home. It’s more than what we have on the walls, floors and the furniture. It should be a reflection of your personality and who you are.
“We have a lot more freedom in design that was not permitted in days gone by.”
Much of that means outdoor living with backyard patios and decks, screened-in porches, firepits and outdoor kitchens, and glorious views of marshes, rivers and towering oak trees with Spanish moss clinging to its branches.
“Why fix what’s not broken?” Cleland said.
“I always want to keep things fresh so there may be elements I’ll introduce that will accomplish the same old thing,” said Mikaelah Seifrit, owner and design principal of Southern Grace Interiors in Bluffton.
For example, color with new patterns, fres textures, lighting, haint blue ceilings, solid wood, cracked trim, and shiplap here and there for tall ceilings.
There’s a down-to-earth rustic quality throughout the home.
“It’s a feeling,” she said. “And there’s a hint of understated luxury in a quiet way. It’s not overly flashy or overly polished or overly modern.
“It’s approachable, southern luxury,” Seifrit said. “For me Lowcountry style is about simplicity and quality and having a come-together that feels friendly and southern.”
What’s outside in nature’s environment takes front seat in what’s inside.
“Color is very important for bringing the outside in,” she said. “The more we bring the outside in, the more we relate to the environment around us.
“Texture and materials, tabby, rustic wood, driftwood tones, navy blues and bright greens, for instance.
“It’s very important to have continuity between the textures and materials and the things we find outside and what we find inside,” she added.
On the design horizon she said she sees moody and dark interiors resurging, deep dark walls like black or navy blue or dark brown, textiles and dark, rich, caramel leather.
People want to feel comfortable and cozy after the past few years of uncertainty, which means the super bright all white interiors will have crested in popularity.
“Harmony” throughout the home is this designer’s mantra.
It’s a good life living in Lowcountry style.