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Updated Home in Charleston

2013 New Trad designer Ginger Brewton injects a classic Georgian Colonial home with a dose of color

Written by Cathy Whitlock

Author William Allen White once remarked that Charleston, South Carolina, was “the most civilized town in the world.” Decades later, readers of Condé Nast Traveler agreed, voting the city a top tourist destination. While charm, heritage, architecture, and interior design are city hallmarks, tradition today takes a new twist.

The home’s classic Georgian exterior contrasts its updated interiors.

Case in point: In redesigning an 82-year-old Georgian-style house in downtown Charleston’s historic Battery district, interior designer Ginger Brewton decided to forgo its traditional roots. Instead, she focused on ways to best serve the needs of the homeowners, a young couple with eclectic tastes.

Mustard paint, chosen by designer Ginger Brewton, introduces bold color at the front door.

Asked to mix existing with new pieces for a fresh, modern look, Brewton made a marked departure from the previous old-school design of the residence.

A vibrant green glass chandelier from Currey & Company crowns the neutral space.

Brewton’s love of color has earned the New York School of Interior Design alum a reputation as one of Charleston’s most popular designers. “People come to me because they want color,” she explains, crediting the vibrant work of designer Kelly Wearstler as a major influence.

A large mirror from Ballard Designs sets a classic tone between sconces with British Colonial influences. A mid-century-look bench inserts a punch of color. 

Brewton added electric shots of color—the curvaceous light fixture from Y Lighting and purple chairs found on eBay—to energize the room’s soft blue walls and neutral upholstered pieces.

For the Battery house, Brewton chose a palette of soothing shades of green and blue in the primary rooms, used neutrals for the secondary spaces, and selected pinks and lavender for a daughter’s bedroom.

The six-bedroom house—complete with dogs and three children under the age of 11—was “designed to be a fun house for the kids,” notes Brewton.

Curvy pendants contrast with the straight lines of the horizontally clad walls.

With the homeowners’ eclecticism comes whimsy. Their penchant for light fixtures led Brewton to eye-catching choices. A coral-and-white-striped beach-ball fixture commands attention in the bathroom while a trio of globes—red, yellow, and clear—lighten things up for the perfect contrast to the traditional wood panels in the den.

Brewton hung three colorful pendant fixtures at different heights to create a dramatic effect in the paneled room. Accent tables in neon hues—teal, chartreuse, and bright orange—emphasize the contemporary feel of the traditional space.

From the mustard-colored front door to vibrant mosaic tiles, the Battery house represents the best of the old and the new.

A dotted backsplash adds whimsy to the hardworking space. 

The clients’ fondness for dramatic light fixtures guided Brewton’s decision to include an overscaled yet delicate chandelier above the dining table. The flour-sack-clad dining chairs impart a rustic edge to the fanciful chandelier from ABC Carpet and Home.

A ladder safely accesses high storage and rolls neatly out of the way.

Ginger Brewton’s Tips of the Trade:

  • Mix old and new. Combine antiques with updated pieces, or upholster a vintage chair in a modern fabric.

  • Make bold statements. Don’t be afraid to paint a small powder room a dark color. It can create a beautiful jewel box.
  • Put your lights on a dimmer. Whether you are having a dinner party or relaxing in the tub, dimmers can set the mood.
  • Remember the ceilings. Use wallpaper or high-gloss paint to treat the ceiling as if it were a fifth wall.

  • Paint your cabinetry. High-gloss paint adds a chic, modern appeal to cabinets.

Photography: Bill Bennett

Traditional Home