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A Surf-Inspired House in Charleston, SC, for Barefoot Living

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A Surf-Inspired House in Charleston, SC, for Barefoot Living

October 4, 2017

Designer Kate Towill begins every project by asking her clients to come up with three words that epitomize their desires for their home. For a young couple based in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, the words were “hideaway,” “summer,” and “barefoot.”

“They prefer to be barefoot at all times,” says designer Kate Towill of her clients, a surf-crazed couple who take yearly trips to Hawaii and Fiji and “love everything about the ocean.” Towill, a Delaware native, is co-proprietor of Basic Projects, a Charleston design and development company she runs with her husband, Ben (he’s co-owner of the Fat Radish in New York City; for a recent collaboration from the duo, see The Ferry Boat Inn: 15 Ideas to Steal from a Seaside Pub in Cornwall).

The house itself was designed by architect Heather Wilson, whose work we previously featured in Holiday at Home, Charleston Edition. “The architecture is unique,” Towill says about the house, which has a Polynesian-Samoan inflection that sets the stage for Basic Projects’ interiors. Indoors, Towill relied on simple, tactile materials to “create a strong grounding feeling from the moment you step inside,” she says. “The cool, smooth concrete on your feet, the organic linen as you lie back on the couch, the large indoor plants surrounding you, and the warm, soft wool rugs underfoot. I feel like I can hear the ukulele strum every time I walk in.”

Photography by Olivia Rae James, courtesy of Basic Projects.

The kitchen island is poured concrete on plaster legs with oak slab cabinet fronts.
Above: The kitchen island is poured concrete on plaster legs with oak slab cabinet fronts.

Experience has taught Towill that the first ideas conjured up in any project are often the best ones. She asks for the three words early on so that they serve as a “steady guide to the many design decisions we’ll make along the way and a reminder of our initial thoughts.”

In addition to their fondness for surfing, the homeowners are partial to design, architecture, and food, and wanted a kitchen that was meant to be used.
Above: In addition to their fondness for surfing, the homeowners are partial to design, architecture, and food, and wanted a kitchen that was meant to be used.
Three Lostine Anna Stools are perched at the kitchen island.
Above: Three Lostine Anna Stools are perched at the kitchen island.
A large wet bar made of sapele wood is tucked around the corner from the kitchen.
Above: A large wet bar made of sapele wood is tucked around the corner from the kitchen.

One of the project’s main design challenges, says Towill, was balancing a lived-in feel with a minimal aesthetic. The house is new, but “we wanted it to feel as though they’d had the place for years. We do this by finding pieces that are rich and high quality, and feel ‘found.'”

The wet bar backsplash is made of silk-screened tiles by Smink Things in East London.
Above: The wet bar backsplash is made of silk-screened tiles by Smink Things in East London.

The dining table and benches are by English brand Another Country. The interior paint is a custom mix, but the closest standard match is Glacier White from Benjamin Moore.
Above: The dining table and benches are by English brand Another Country. The interior paint is a custom mix, but the closest standard match is Glacier White from Benjamin Moore.
Towill has advice for homeowners undertaking a similar project: “Don’t buy everything at once,” she says. “Allow time to find pieces that have special meaning. It’s better to have fewer but higher quality pieces that make you happy, will look better with age, and last a lifetime.”

Everywhere except the bedrooms, flooring is unstained gray concrete. Towill used a mix of linen and mud cloth throw pillows throughout the house, mostly from House of Cindy.
Above: Everywhere except the bedrooms, flooring is unstained gray concrete. Towill used a mix of linen and mud cloth throw pillows throughout the house, mostly from House of Cindy.
The clients&#8
Above: The clients’ golden retriever, Delilah, hangs out in the open fireplace connecting the living and dining rooms. Another pleasant tactile experience, notes Towill, is “feeling the rounded edges of the plaster while you read by the fire.”
Towill sourced kilim rugs from local antiques stores.
Above: Towill sourced kilim rugs from local antiques stores.
The project&#8
Above: The project’s biggest splurge was on a Belgian coffee table the designer found on 1stdibs. “It’s massive,” she says. “I think three people could sleep on it.” The artwork is by Ty Williams.
The master bedroom sports a Harbour Cane Bed from Serena & Lily. Flanking the bed are two Signal Pendants from Workstead. The flooring in all three bedrooms is white oak planks.
Above: The master bedroom sports a Harbour Cane Bed from Serena & Lily. Flanking the bed are two Signal Pendants from Workstead. The flooring in all three bedrooms is white oak planks.
The master bathroom has a kilim rug and brass details. A pair of French doors opens onto the garden.
Above: The master bathroom has a kilim rug and brass details. A pair of French doors opens onto the garden.
The house has two spare bedrooms to accommodate the homeowners&#8
Above: The house has two spare bedrooms to accommodate the homeowners’ frequent guests. One bed has an Indigo Moon Quilt by artist Caroline Z Hurley, which Towill spotted on the Fortune Finds section of jewelry designer Lizzie Fortunato’s site.
The tiles in the guest bathroom are from Tabarka Studio.
Above: The tiles in the guest bathroom are from Tabarka Studio.
&#8
Above: “The architectural style of the house really sets it apart from its neighbors,” says Towill. “Together with the client, architect Heather Wilson created almost a Polynesian or Samoan feeling, evident in the unique roofline, open plan, and use of natural materials.”

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