Timeless Beauty - An 18th-century Charleston single house with a circa-1961 Loutrel Briggs-designed garden embraces a new era as a showpiece for contemporary art.
Formal Introduction: This classic Charleston single is a heady mix of history. Built before circa-1790, the house was augmented with careful additions, including the front bay windows, in the late 19th century. In 1961, the formal gardens were created by renowned landscape designer Loutrel Briggs.
The property, featured on a 1910 postcard, “Gallery and Garden,” was saved from neglect by Historic Charleston Foundation and underwent a painstaking renovation in 2014. Today, new owners, Nicole and Amir Rubin, have filled the interiors with their art collection, featuring works by Jonathan Green, Rick Horton, and Alice Ravenel Huger Smith
Mix & Mingle: A Jonathan Green painting, Escorting Ruth, anchors the sitting room, which welcomes natural light through the front bay windows. The artist’s vivid colors pop against a subtle palette of creams, greens, and warm woods. Throughout the interiors, there’s a mix of antique and modern furnishings. A striking Urban Electric lantern hangs above a Modern History glass coffee table, while the antique chest in the bay window dates to the era the home was built.
The entry hall also features a dramatic Urban Electric chandelier, hanging from a restored 18th-century ceiling medallion above original heart-of-pine floors.
The brick walls and wooden beams are original to the carriage house, but this iron spiral staircase was imported from France to connect the two levels of the dependency during recent renovations.
The building, which once served as a kitchen (you can still see knife marks in the fireplace surround), is now connected to the main house. The warm, casual space is used as a family room, with a comfy Verellen sofa, custom crushed velvet swivel chairs, and an Arhaus bar, topped by an original piece by Nicole’s uncle, North Carolina artist Rick Horton.
Blue Hues: The second-floor library has become Amir’s office with walls and woodwork painted in a custom blue. Another Horton artwork resides over the sitting area with custom mohair chairs, sofa from Edelman Leather, and rug from Tufenkian Artisan Carpets.
Hints of blue are carried through the house to the kitchen, where a marble countertop is hugged by three Charles Stewart stools covered in a poppy fabric with hints of warm gold.
The metallic tones complement the bright blue La Cornue range.
Anchored by Art: The art collection dictated the interior design, including the three light-filled bedrooms. A Rick Horton piece in the primary bedroom evokes the rich tones of the heart-of-pine flooring and antique brass Urban Electric chandelier.
A trio of drawings by Horton lend their geometric shapes to this room’s more masculine style.
The third bedroom has a playful feminine feel, enhanced by the large painting by Brooklyn artist Patricia Treib and a quartet of serene landscapes by Los Angeles-based photographer Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong.
Glorious Garden: Protected by a Historic Charleston Foundation exterior easement, the original carriage/kitchen house has been restored to its former glory. A concrete staircase that once obscured the brick building has been removed allowing the mid-century Loutrel Briggs-designed garden, restored by Glen Gardner, to breathe once more.
Today, one “room” holds a delightful outdoor dining area atop a bluestone patio, where JANUS et Cie outdoor chairs provide a place to sit, eat, and soak up the history.
A modern saltwater pool was added during a 2014 renovation, bringing a new water feature to the classic garden rooms Briggs was known for.
James Island native Nicole Rubin returns home to usher in a new era for one of downtown Charleston’s most storied residences