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If you’ve been following my earlier posts (here and here), you know that I’m one lucky online editor who recently took a trip down to gorgeous Charleston, S.C. to attend their annual antiques show and tour a few of the peninsula’s centuries-old private homes. With over 2,800 historic buildings, Charleston is one America’s oldest and best-preserved cities. Founded in 1670 as an English colony named Charles Towne, the city’s peninsula features homes that range from pre-Revolutionary War and Antebellum to Gothic Revival, Italianate and Victorian that were added in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. Although these architectural styles differ, one common thread of all Charleston’s historic homes is the strong desire to preserve the buildings that make this city so unique. 

I saw so many beautiful interior and exterior details during my tour but here are 5 of my favorites:

Wood Paneling:  Interior walls covered in raised wood panels are a common feature in Charleston’s historic homes. In the years before plaster (and centuries before sheetrock), wood was a functional and decorative wall covering that helped to insulate interior rooms from cold seeping through the home’s stone or brick exterior. In this cozy living room, the home’s current owner meticulously stripped layer-after-layer of paint to restore the almost 300-year-old cypress panels to their original warm finish.Paneled parlor in Charleston historic home

A “Hyphen”: Due to the very real possibility of fire, Charleston’s kitchens were housed separately from the main house. Thanks to advances in cooking in the early 1900′s (food could be prepared in a stove instead of over an open fire) many Charlestonians began to connect the detached kitchen to the main house with a room called a ”hyphen.” These connecting rooms provided additional living space and made cooking less of a chore. Many hyphens, like this one, still feature the old brick exterior wall and pathway that led to the former kitchen.Fireplace and brick floor in historic home in Charleston

Haint Blue Paint: Another common feature of the city’s historic homes is blue paint on the ceilings of piazzas (Charleston’s term for covered side porches). Commonly called “haint blue,” this soft turquoise shade is thought to keep ghosts or malicious spirits from entering the home. Here’s the iconic shade on the Calhoun Mansion, the city’s largest private residence:Piazza ceilings painted blue in Charleston

Hinged Shutters: Although we use shutters on the exteriors of our modern homes solely for decoration, Charleston’s early inhabitants put them to work. Paneled shutters were hinged so they could securely close to protect pricey glass windows from hurricanes.  Windowboxes in Charleston

Lush Gardens: Charleston’s subtropical climate means short, mild winters, hot, humid summers and plenty of year-round rainfall resulting in an ideal gardening environment. Peek through any gate in the historic district and you’ll be rewarded with the view of a stately home surrounded by either a formal or informal garden. Although the plot surrounding each home isn’t large, Charlestonians take pride in filling their yards with masses of blooming plants. Plantation house in Charleston

*Check back next Wednesday to see highlights of the gorgeous gardens I toured in Charleston. 

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

12 Responses

  1. guest says:

    We actually live in Mount Pleasant and my husband commutes to downtown Charleston everyday. I think the main reason why porch ceilings were painted "blue" was that it tricked bugs, especially mosquitoes, because it's the color of the sky. If you live in the South, you know how many bugs there are and you'll see those blue porch ceilings covered at night!

  2. guest says:

    We live here in Charleston and have been to all of the islands. Folly Beach is definitely a popular one for people who live in Summerville. Have you ever been to Kiawah or Edisto Island? Or possibly Fripp Island or Hunting Island State Park? Honestly, those islands have some of the prettiest beaches in the United States, far better than Folly. In fact, I believe Kiawah beach is ranked in the top 10 in America. Some of the Notebook was even filmed on Edisto (not Seabrook, lol)! It's gorgeous!!

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H. Camille SmithCamille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors...

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