Step Inside a Glowing Charleston, South Carolina, Home That’s Filled With Stunning Furniture

Melanie and Peter Birch weren’t planning on leaving their 18th-century downtown Charleston, South Carolina, town house. But in 2019, friend and local designer Sarah Hamlin Hastings offered an off-market deal on her own too-good-to-turn-down home just five minutes away over the Ashley River. “We had zero interest, really, in moving out of downtown,” Melanie admits. However, when she and Peter saw the McAlpine-renovated 1920s house whose generous rooms opened onto a stunning garden, they knew it would be perfectly suited to their love for entertaining. At breakfast together the day after the viewing, they were sold.

For the first year, the home was “livable but not polished,” Melanie says, and furnished with the Birches’ collections of artworks and antiques and Art Deco furniture. Soon after, a persistent realtor convinced the reluctant couple to go into contract with a buyer. When the deal fell through, they decided to invest in the home’s decorating for the long-term. It hadn’t been updated for 11 years, and the formal interior color palette of mostly neutrals and grays didn’t match their bold and curated style. Local designer Angie Hranowsky, whose “use of color, younger vibe, and California feel is more out-of-the-box than the traditional local designers,” according to Melanie, was the perfect match to give it the facelift it needed.

“Melanie said, ‘I just want it to feel like us,’” Hranowsky recalls. “They’re a fun couple. Their house needed to be really cool, interesting, and inviting.” Leaving the interior architecture mostly untouched, the designer focused on brightening the rooms with a series of high gloss hues and creating the casual vibe that her clients—frequent Napa, California, travelers—admired in vineyard homes.

Despite Charleston’s summer humidity, the abode has an inherent indoor-outdoor flow: A series of French double doors leads to its garden, and elsewhere large windows provide picturesque views. Hranowsky removed heavy silk drapes and replaced them with custom curtains and sheers made by local artisan Mayra Morla Sterling to let light stream in. She commissioned Scott Meara of Charleston Table Company to create custom furniture pieces, including a statement circular table in a jewel-toned blue lacquer. In the dining room, it’s surrounded by a bespoke sofa covered in a raspberry Pierre Frey velvet and vintage side chairs with new upholstered cushions. To define this space and add an extra dose of pizzazz, local artist Kristen Bunting painted the historic wood floor in a zigzag pattern.

Because the clients are enthusiastic hosts, the sizable foyer was a focal point for Hranowsky. “Immediately when I started designing the house, I thought, This needs to be a really great moment,” she says of the space where the Birches had already added a wine room. Two bars are hidden behind mirrored doors. An abaca rug underfoot and a dramatic jungle scene wallcovering by Ananbô now create an inviting place to gather for drinks and conversation.

Similarly, the skylit conservatory was designed with visitors in mind. The warm color palette takes cues from the original tile floors and the honey-colored veining in the new Breccia Viola marble-clad kitchen attached. A variety of seating options—from vintage chairs by design duos Guillerme et Chambron and Adrien Audoux and Frida Minet to an RH sofa reupholstered in a Larsen fabric—converge in front of the hearth with a grand piano at the ready nearby.

New coats of paint and refreshing decorating also brought life back into private spaces. The primary bedroom has a new sunny disposition via custom yellow curtains and valances, a patterned wallpaper, and a bespoke Temple Studio rug with gold accents. During installation, Melanie hung a perfectly matched painting from the family collection over the sculptural custom bed. And the study—where Melanie had insisted they didn’t spend much time—is now a green-colored favorite.

Throughout the house, artworks and a selection of beloved pieces from the Birches’ vintage furniture collection are integrated into the new design, including a Philip and Kelvin LaVerne side table, two figurative paintings by Jamali, and a leopard-print sectional. But the couple gave Hranowsky their trust in helping let the house’s architecture “speak for itself” and crafting a colorful home that emulates their laidback lifestyle, Melanie says. “In the past year, we have just looked at each other again and again and said, ‘Wow,’” she continues.

“I’m lucky that all my clients are willing to let me push them out of their comfort zones a little bit,” Hranowsky says. “That’s what a good designer does.”