One of the highlights of my summer was touring historic homes in Charleston with Veranda magazine.  It was my first time in the Holy City, which as a Southerner is nothing short of shameful!  But it won’t be my lastI’m officially smitten!  I can’t wait to go back and soak in the city’s history, architecture and style.

Our lunch stop on the tour was at the Battery home of Charleston architect Mark Maresca.  He and his family live in a gorgeous 1800’s captain’s house that has been meticulously restored and brilliantly decorated.  Literally every room is ah-maaaaa-zing, dripping with elegance and packed with #inspo.  I didn’t want to leave!

elaine griffin blog house tourThe living room is perfectly laid out.  The seating group floats in the center of the room, with a pair of slipper chairs brilliantly pushed together as a faux loveseat.  This set-up is a #designdo.  It’s stylishly balanced and accommodates group conversations with guests, smaller one-on-ones, and blissful solo moments, too.  Seating groups are all about facilitating conversation (rule of thumb: you should always be able to whisper to the person in the adjacent chair and be easily heard) — Mark’s gets an A+ for that!

elaine griffin house tour marescoelaine griffin house tour marescoDraping a zippy ikat-patterned antique textile across the visible back of the slipper chairs enlivens their solid-colored upholstery (a great trick of the trade for styling up backs of chairs and sofas in floating seating groups).

LOVE the mix of styles and finishes!  I think we often forget how genius folding screens are to fill awkward, empty zones like corners and long expanses of bare walls.

elaine griffin maresca blogelaine griffin maresca blogelaine griffin blogMark’s kitchen is a deft example of traditional decor executed in a modern, minimalist-ish vernacular.  #Brilliant!  P.S. My heart sang when I saw his swing arm sconces bent in the proper direction, with elbows facing out, mirror image.

elaine griffin blog photoelaine griffin blog photoI always say that if guests aren’t talking about your powder room when they exit it, then you haven’t finished decorating!  They’re meant to be fun, stylish, whimsical spaces, and the smaller they are, the more dramatic their decor should be.  The Marescas’ black-painted, art-packed, pocket-sized powder room is fabulous!  I loved how Mark mounted the wall sconces on the narrow sink niche’s side walls and also tucked wisps of greenery behind frames to gussy up the space for guests.  Trade Secret:  Opting for an eggshell finish with deep hues like ebony, chocolate and navy means fewer fingerprints and chalky scuff marks on dark walls. 

Elaine Griffin blog postelaine griffin blog postThe sitting room is a masterful combination of modern and traditional — a midcentury modern sofa commands pride of place across from a pair of white-linened Bridgewater armchairs and more.  Look up:  Pulling off a dark bronze ceiling ain’t a feat for the faint-hearted, but with 10 ft. ceilings, the Marescas’ sitting room has the height to pull it off.  This is a layered room that gradually reveals itself to the eye as you linger in it (like they’re supposed to!).

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Now that’s #graciousliving, and proof positive that sophisticated and comfortable are not mutually exclusive — aim for both.  #CharlestonChic

Interior designer, lifestyle expert and TV personality based in NYC and Coastal Georgia

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