Another Grand Charleston Home

Going on Instagram tours is starting to become a bit of a past time for me, especially in Charleston where it combines two things I love – my city and taking iphone photos. I thought I’d finally post some snaps of a truly spectacular historic Charleston home, the Aiken-Rhett house. These were taken on another “Instameet” offered by the Historic Charleston Foundation, photo below of me and a friend courtesy of the @historiccharlestonfoundation instagram:

The c.1820 home and it’s outlying buildings has been conserved, but never updated so it retains an air of faded grandeur rather than extreme polish, like the Nathaniel Russell House, also built in the early 1800’s. Because of the dichotomy, if you have the opportunity I would certainly try to visit both homes, as each gives you a feel for their time in its own way.  The outside of the Aiken-Rhett house in fact, is the only “polished” feature of the home, almost Mediterranean in feel with it’s golden tone and grand porches:

The inside is a bit more romantic with peeling paint and dusty chandeliers.  I ran into a friend of mine on the tour who snapped this photo of me in the stairwell, I half-expected to see a ghost pop up over my shoulder:

One of the most spectacular rooms is the former ballroom with its huge gilt mirror and original upholstered furniture. On the ceiling is a large, carved medallion that clearly some fabulous light fixture hung from at some point:

Without air conditioning, these massive homes relied on large wooden shutters and old-fashioned cross-ventilation to keep the rooms cool in the hot summer months.  Seeing the light filter through them from the inside makes you feel like you are trapped in another world altogether:

The original structural details and textures created by the walls and peeling paint are what make viewing this particular home and outlying structures such as the kitchen house (above) such a rich experience, one I really enjoyed!

The World’s Biggest Doughnut, I Found It

There are two things I seem genetically and possibly geographically disposed to like: potato chips and doughnuts.  I cannot reasonably incorporate either of these things into my regular diet but I like to treat vacation as a guilt-free zone.  We are currently in Rhode Island, just off the coast and near a saltwater river having a very relaxing time.  I have made the most of my downtime, googling things like “best doughnuts in Rhode Island” and voila!  The doughnut cake:

I experienced this culinary gem at Allie’s Doughnut Shop and had to ask them to take it out of the case so I could photograph it properly.  I left my feet in there for scale.  It was already spoken for (apparently to secure one you do need to order several weeks in advance) but I did sample Allie’s regular sized doughnuts and I can honestly say as far as good old-fashioned doughnuts go they are the best I’ve had.  It is well worth the trip, probably about 30 minutes from larger cities like Newport and Providence.

We also spent Father’s Day at a great seafood spot called “Champlin’s“.  I’ve tried a lot of places like this in Rhode Island and a lot of them are pretty touristy and only decent.  But there are a few real gems and Champlin’s, pictured below (along with their perfect lobster salad roll) is one of them:

They also sell these ridiculously adorable felt lobster hats.  Daphne snatched one off the rack as we were waiting in line and we couldn’t get it off her head the rest of the night.  Future Halloween costume?

Also, conveniently located just below the restaurant is The Sweet Spot, a perfect way to sate your after-dinner sugar craving (fudge, ice cream, etc.) without having to make another stop.  The Block Island Ferry terminal is just steps away so it is worth eating here even if you are just passing through on your way there.

Since we are staying just outside Narragansett, we ventured into town for a drink at this waterfront bar/restaurant – The Coast Guard House .  We just had a drink on the upper deck and did not sample the food, but a sunset view doesn’t get much better than this.  And once it got dark, you could see the bridge into Newport glittering in the distance.  Pretty magical!

Thursday night my husband I will head into Providence to spend a night at The Dean Hotel which I am really looking forward to.  And I can’t mention Providence without acknowledging it’s rich history as the costume jewelry capital of the U.S.  Pre-1980 almost all costume jewelry sold in America was made there and Providence still has a neighborhood called The Jewelry District where old jewelry factories have since been converted into lofts.  And speaking of jewelry, my Charleston Rice Beads were just the right amount of the South to bring along with me up North:

It’s already been a great (and much-needed) vacation and we still have exactly seven days left, which makes me feel kind of like this:

It’s Wedding Season

In Charleston it sure is wedding season. June seems to be the peak of wedding mania, and with our city being the epicenter of destination weddings, everywhere you turn you see a bride snapping photos with her wedding party on a picturesque street. Coincidentally, I just wrapped a bridal photo shoot last week, featuring our Rose Gold Charleston Rice Beads.  Here’s a sneak peek… our Charleston Rice Beads make fabulous bridal party gifts and are just perfect for a Charleston destination wedding:

Paige Winn did a wonderful job shooting our “wedding party” and I had a great team of hair (Bailey Bial) and make-up (Amanda Rose), flowers from Flower Shop and the gorgeous dresses were designed and handmade by Charleston-based Evelyn’s Alterations & Design.  Evelyn has been doing my own vintage alterations for years and we recently moved into a shared space together in Downtown Charleston – and it has pretty much been a match made in vintage heaven!

And, I was excited to find out that our Gold Charleston Rice Beads from SWOON in Charleston are also featured in this season’s issue of Charleston Weddings, currently on stands as well as on their website. Lovely styling by Ayoka Lucas:

It’s been a little while since my own wedding (7 1/2) years to be exact, but all this bridal business is making me want to go back and plan it all over again!

The Nathaniel Russell House

If you know me, you know I love to Instagram. So, last week I was excited when the opportunity came up to attend an “Instameet” in Charleston at the historic Nathaniel Russell House.  Lauren Northup even captured of myself and Olivia Brock of A Lacquered Life instagramming it up with intensity!

This is a house I have heard a lot about, and coincidentally, my mother-in-law Mary Zahl did the original garden design during the restoration in the mid 1990’s. Sometimes, it is hard to take the time to stop and be a tourist in your own city, even one as beautiful as Charleston. They do not usually allow photos to be taken in the house, so this was a special opportunity. All my photos were taken on an iphone 5s. While I already posted some on @candyshopvintage Instagram, there are more below that I have not yet shared.

The spiral staircase is the standout feature of the early 1800’s, three story home, I could not get enough:

And the grand painting in the stairwell is a portrait of Mary-Rutledge Smith as painted by George Romney. She had something like a dozen kids by my age (33). This might be a picture of her 11th or 12th. Yikes!  I believe she was 35 when this was painted.

The colors in the house are spectacular, from the burnt orange in the stairwell to the peachy pink in the drawing room (which is actually wallpaper and not paint):

Below is the “morning room” which had the best light in the house.  Yes please, I’d like my coffee in here every morning:

Loved all the details like the ceramic knobs, the library in the closet and the incredible molding with hand gold-leafed accents:

The turquoise dining room on the first floor with the exquisite borders around the windows had to be one of my favorite rooms in terms of color:

And this is an actual portrait of Nathaniel Russell, the original owner.  He did not build the home until he was in his 70’s so it was basically his retirement home.  He was originally from Newport, Rhode Island, a city with a lot of similarities to Charleston.

This was a really fun way to take a historic home tour, especially if you are prone to being glued to your iphone like me. The Historic Charleston Foundation is hosting a second “Instameet” in another historic home, the Aiken-Rhett House next Friday June 13th.  You can sign up here.  Maybe I’ll see you there!