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Tour a classic beach house on Sullivan’s Island that designer Elizabeth Stuart Faith gave a decidedly “unbeachy” interior aesthetic

Tour a classic beach house on Sullivan’s Island that designer Elizabeth Stuart Faith gave a decidedly “unbeachy” interior aesthetic
March 2022

Check out sleek midcentury furnishings blended with vintage chandeliers, and a curated art collection

In pursuit of the ideal palette for the marshfront home she was decorating, interior designer Elizabeth “Muffie” Stuart Faith scooped up a palmful of pluff mud from the edge of the property and plopped it onto a paper plate. She brought the wet, gritty clay up to the structure, still under construction, holding it up to where the light would one day shine through picture-frame windows. “I wanted to see what type of gray should be in here,” she says, recalling how she developed the color scheme for the elegant Sullivan’s Island beach house with interiors that are decidedly “unbeachy.”

Situated on the tip of Jasper Boulevard, a stone’s throw from Breach Inlet and the Isle of Palms, the 5,000-square-foot, classic Lowcountry beach house was designed by architect Beau Clowney, a longtime friend of Faith’s with whom she has collaborated on previous projects, including her own home in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village. “We looked at all the details of Southern coastal architecture, in particular typical Sullivan’s Island building topologies, to create a house that evokes the spirit of houses on the island,” says Clowney.

The unique lot was the real draw for the homeowner, a family man with three grown children. The triangular-shaped parcel, with a distinctive curve that hosts panoramic views from the marsh to the Intracoastal Waterway, presented an opportunity to build a house surrounded by water on three sides. While a considerable challenge, it was simply too good a prospect to pass up. “Sullivan’s Island is beautiful and has remained a place that feels quaint and quiet,” says the owner. “We all love it here—my kids, the dogs, our extended family and friends.” The privacy afforded by the space and the easy access to a deep-water dock were other driving factors for his choice. “We love the water—wakeboarding, fishing, water skiing, swimming, sitting on the dock, watching the wildlife—we do it all,” he says.

Because her client’s job as the CEO of a global property development and management company requires extensive travel, Faith set out to create a place that felt like a sanctuary, a haven for enjoying everything he loves: reading, entertaining, spending time with his family, being close to the water, and catering to his beloved Lab, Birdie. “I wanted it to feel like a place of respite for him, a place he could feel really comfortable,” she says.

An Eames lounge chair in the living room, four overstuffed swivel chairs in the “coffee room,” and a luxurious study with wood-paneled walls and vintage velvet chairs ensure there are plenty of places to relax and unwind.

Faith drew inspiration largely from the landscape beyond the vast windows, which are framed in mahogany and showcase the “moving paintings” of the picturesque views. Her pluff mud project led to a palette of muted colors inspired by the marshy hues—pale grays, light wheats, and rich browns accentuated by pops of dark green and bright orange. Placed on a canvas of creamy white and dispersed among the clean lines of the low mid-century modern furniture, the colors are capped by a semi-gloss ceiling with just a hint of blue to enhance all the beauty beyond the windows.

Clean Lines: The home’s interiors are designed for comfort with a hefty dose of style. Low, mid-century furniture, including a pair of circa-1960 Danish Brazilian rosewood “Cube” club chairs by Jydsk Møbelværk, a two-piece modern sectional by Harvey Probber, and an acrylic side table, draw the eye to the view beyond. The soft, marsh-inspired palette is highlighted by the custom Sherwin Williams faint blue semi-gloss paint on the ceiling, evoking the Lowcountry sky. 

Throughout the home, Faith used art and vintage and antique lighting fixtures to create touches of drama in the understated rooms. Pieces by Shannon Runquist, Paul Gagni, and Sullivan’s Island’s own Mickey Williams punctuate the spaces. “The oversized landscape by Mickey Williams [in the bedroom] is special to me because I bought it when I lived in Texas, and it came full circle back to South Carolina,” says the owner, who is from Oklahoma but has lived in Charleston for almost three decades.

With an open plan, the first-floor rooms flow effortlessly into one another, yet each is a complete space in itself. “The whole home is a collection,” says Faith. “All of the lights are a collection; the vintage furniture is a collection; the art is a collection. The rooms are art, vignettes that play well together and showcase the unique ‘paintings’ beyond the windows.”

Stepping into the main living area, the vintage sofa and mid-century Danish rosewood case chairs allow the views to dominate. A bold, antique oil painting above the fireplace depicts a rooster and peacock in the heat of battle; its dark, dramatic colors softened by a pale blue sky that plays off the room’s subtly hued ceiling. “It’s an eye-catching piece, and I like the juxtaposition of such an old piece with the contemporary look in the room,” says Faith.

The rich wooden tones complement the adjoining dining room’s simple design. There, a pecky cypress-paneled bar with a zinc countertop provides all the necessities for entertaining, and a long oak dining table from Belgium rounds out the rustic yet modern vibe. Just beyond, a hand-scrapped beam delineates the start of the open kitchen, accentuated by a wrought-iron light fixture hanging above a black soapstone-topped kitchen island. “I spend the most time in the kitchen or the coffee room,” says the homeowner. “It’s quiet for reading, the dog is usually at my feet, and the views are wonderful.”

On the other side, a large working prep kitchen is a dream space for whipping up meals for family and friends. “I’m very much at ease in the kitchen,” he says. “I love an impromptu meal—the more, the merrier. ”

For occasions when a more intimate space is required for conversation or concentration, a handsome wood-paneled study is tucked away off the main living room. Here, the decor follows the theme of the rest of the house: a bold oil painting of a dashing young hunter stares out from his perch above the fireplace, two mid-century chrome and velvet chairs by Cy Mann sit alongside a plush sofa, and an antique crystal chandelier ties it all together.

Color them Happy: In contrast to the more subdued palette of the main floor, the upstairs guest bedrooms are vibrant with color. From verdant green (above left) reflected in the headboard and coverlet and pillows in Schumacher’s “Hothouse Flowers” to the deep oranges of the USM Haller nightstand and vintage lamp in the shiplapped chamber (above middle). The third bedroom boasts a pendant drum shade covered in a pastel pink and orange Cindy Barganier fabric, which plays with the large, velvet fish pillow from Elizabeth Stuart.

A split staircase leads to the sleeping quarters, including rooms for the homeowner’s children or guests. But the prime real estate (i.e., the best view) is reserved for his bedroom. Accessed by a private corridor, it’s a cozy suite replete with a large walk-in closet boasting velvet-lined walls, a luxurious bathroom, and soothing marsh and river vistas through three walls of floor-to-ceiling windows. “This room, and most of the rooms in the house, have light and air coming in on three sides,” notes Clowney.

An adjoining porch with plentiful outdoor seating brings even more opportunity to soak up the Lowcountry scene. “It’s just the perfect beach house without the beach house ‘look’,” says Faith. “It respects the outdoors without trying to emulate it. The client can see and enjoy the reason he’s here, while still being surrounded by what makes him comfortable.”