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 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!