Southern Classic: Historic Charleston Mansion

Today’s inspiring interior design comes from a superbly renovated and well preserved ornate Italian Renaissance-style southern classic mansion in Charleston, South Carolina.  The residence, whose main house dates back to the 1850s, is one of the city’s grandest and most impressive houses in the Italianate style of the mid-19th century and is included on the Charleston Registry of Historic Homes.  The 9,700 square-foot, three and one-half story, seven bedroom home is an elegant rendition of the regional style Charleston single house.  The home’s design departs from the traditional plan with the addition of a north side wing, which balances the piazza on the opposite side.  The residence is locally known as the Patrick O’Donnell House, named after the Irish immigrant who built it.

Through the years, the southern classic mansion’s various owners have continually restored and enhanced the structure, and have added plenty of modern luxury design amenities as well.  The property has benefited from the addition of a separate guesthouse, which added 1,100 square feet, a three-car, climate controlled garage, and a heated pool.  The extensive renovation, restoration, and enhancement efforts have elevated this home to one of the finest in the city.

Charleston southern classic design front exterior

The current owners initially purchased the mansion to serve as a vacation home.  A few years later, they found themselves spending more and more time at the property and so decided that it needed to be a bit more personal.  It needed to function more like their primary residences, and less trophy pied-a-terre.  Of course, they wanted to maintain all of the period classic design details for which they purchased the home.  They wanted to keep everything as historically correct as possible, without feeling stuffy.  The desire was to create a sense of history, personal history as though the family had lived there for generations and pieces had been gradually added along the way to present day.  It needed to be in the style that O’Donnell envisioned, only adjusted for their modern life.

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To fine tune the home’s interiors, the owners called on their trusted designer with whom they had already collaborated on over a dozen projects, Susanne Lichten Csongor, principle of the Massachusetts firm SLC Interiors.  The designer was to complete the house with a design that could equally exist today and years ago.  They had complete confidence in her, and she has brilliantly created for them what they most wanted of their historic mansion, a charming and inviting home that can be shared with family and friends.

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The interior architecture includes layers of design details which have been painstakingly restored and cared for over the years.  This latest interior design makes them the prize of the palace with everything else meant to compliment and emphasize them, rather than compete.  The home includes a double parlor located off the entrance hall where the details really shine; lavish crown moldings, stacked cornices, ceiling friezes, marble fireplaces, and baseboards.  Here and throughout, the designer has used a mostly neutral color palette to temper the grandeur of the interior architecture, and a mix of period art and antiques along with some more classic contemporary pieces for a perfect balance.

In the front parlor, gathered on an antique carpet, the designer has placed a custom scroll-arm sofa with a Rose Tarlow coffee table and a pair of Nancy Corzine chairs.   To balance the fireplace on the opposite wall, she selected a fine Empire-style chest and placed 18th-century portrait paintings above both.

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This view shows through to the rear parlor.  The chandeliers in both rooms came with the house and so remained.  Another antique rug has been used in the rear parlor to gather the furniture as well.  A daybed upholstered in a Clarence House silk is centered along the back with a mid-19th century Continental Neoclassical console behind it and a coffee table from Nancy Corzine before it.  A pair of custom lounge chairs completes the arrangement.

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The formal dining room was allowed a bit more drama as dining rooms often are.  For this room, the designer had a custom wallcovering created depicting life in Charleston at the time the home was originally built.  She orchestrated the ideas and handed them over to the artist at Gracie studio along with the elevations and ultimately the scenes were hand-painted onto the wall-coverings.  The custom Regency dining table has been paired with chairs from Nancy Corzine.  A fabulous Napoleon III gilded mirror from East & Orient Company in Dallas hangs over the marble fireplace.  The crystal chandelier came with the home.  The owners frequently host elegant dinners for 10 when in town.

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The brick chef’s kitchen includes custom cabinetry and an island that has been topped with locally sourced marble, along with a pressed tin ceiling.  The appliances are commercial grade.  The framed harbor scene Passage des Detroits, is from Gracie, while the leather-covered bar stools are from Minton-Spidell.

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Dining can be done out on the piazza as well.  Perfectly charming!

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Hello!  This is how powder rooms should be done!  Grand and theatrical.  This is probably my favorite room in the home.  Being from the South originally myself, and loving southern classic style, this entire home speaks to me, but this powder room is everything!  For more design inspiration, check out my post on statement making powder rooms.  The wall-covering in here is from Cowtan & Tout.  The Verde marble vanity top has a hand-painted under-mount sink and is complete with gold-plated swan faucets by P.E. Guerin.  A 19th century English portrait is reflected in the giltwood Louis XVI mirror which is flanked by a pair of French gilt-bronze sconce.

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Here in the billiards room, the traditional design styling is continued.  The pair of tufted leather wing chairs is circa 1930.  The room is very English.  Very handsome.

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The feeling is a bit more high-minded in the library.  The wood-paneled walls, gilded framed portrait and that exquisite fireplace screen create an old-world sophisticated atmosphere.

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A game’s table has been established in this arched space.  The antique table is surrounded by English Regency cane-back armchairs.  Bronze wall sconces on either side of the arch provide the space with a golden glow at night.

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The designer used a natural Merida Agave runner on the stairs to allow the magnificent architecture to shine, including the turned and fluted balusters, a coffin corner niche, and the spiraling moldings overhead, while also keeping it all grounded.  In addition to the grand staircase, there is also an antique elevator that leads up to all floors.

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In the upper-level family room, the designer has lightened the mood a bit further.  The furnishings are more relaxed and comfortable with chenille upholstery trimmed with a Greek key.  The walls are decorated with maritime paintings.  This room is a perfect spot to just casually lounge.

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The master bedroom suite is actually quite timeless for a southern classic home.  This all feels so familiar to me, with exception of the master bathroom.  It has been styled in a most inspiring way.  I love the mirrors suspended in front of the windows with the crystal chandeliers suspended above each of them.  The bed is a reproduction of an early 1800s sea captain’s bed and has been dressed with linens from Sferra. The accent pillows are made of antique fabrics.  The sitting area includes a Regency style mahogany Recamier- circa 1825-35, a 19th-century Continental sewing table, and an 18th-century portrait.

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Today the home’s multiple bedrooms are frequently filled with guests who travel down with the owners to enjoy all the city has to offer, and for a good dose of Southern charm.

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The deep porches were designed to shield the interiors from the sun and are a classic design feature in Southern architecture.  You can also see the homes carriage house there.

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This is a view of the piazza side of the southern classic home from the front.  Each level has a different entablature on fluted Doric Columns.  The wide verandas open all three floors to the outdoors.  There is also a rooftop deck.  The exterior of the residential architecture includes vermiculated quoins and an elaborate cornice with both dentils and modillions.

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Charleston southern classic design pool guesthouse

That completes our presentation of this preserved Southern classic mansion.  Designer Susanne Lichten Csongor and her team at SLC Interiors have wonderfully executed the desires of the homeowners.  The completed design perfectly respects and enhances the home’s period details while also making the home warm and welcoming and adapted to modern life.  In perfect summation, this design indeed is the contemporary expression of traditional ideas.

Southern Classic Mansion Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed today’s design inspiration, my friend!   There is no shortage of interior design inspiration here for fans of traditional design in particular.  Thank you so much for reading along.

Interior design:  Slc Interiors-Massachusetts

photography: Durston Saylor

Traditional Home

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Showing 6 comments
  • Jeanne Adolphe
    Reply

    Nice and beautiful decorations. I love this design.

  • Brendan
    Reply

    I like what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the great works guys I’ve included you guys to our
    blogroll.

  • Gary Sherwin
    Reply

    You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the articles you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you
    who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart!

    • johnny Knight
      Reply

      Thanks Gary! That is a huge compliment and I appreciate it very very much!!

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