For a family with five kids, Charleston decorator Angie Hranowsky fashions a wildly hip vacation home on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island where traditional style meets peak ’80s chic — and everything is kissed with bold, sunny color.
M.K. Quinlan: This place is a lot funkier than your usual South Carolina beach house. Where are all the seashells and palm prints?
Angie Hranowsky: By the time my client hired me, she had already sent the stereotypical beach furniture that came with the house to Habitat for Humanity and was ready to start fresh. Her name is Christina Cochran; she is cool and creative, loves lots of bold colors, and, like me, is a bit of a risk-taker. She wanted to create a vibrant vacation home for her husband, Rob, and their five children. She had seen my work in a magazine and called me one day to say, “I love your style. I want you to do this house.” It was built in the early 1990s as a showhouse. We both loved the neo- classical architecture and the scale of the rooms, but it felt traditional and heavy. It needed an update.
What inspired that jaw-dropping dining room?
Christina found those really exquisite wallpaper panels through a dealer friend in Pennsylvania, where she lives full-time. They were hand-painted in the 1920s and came from a steel magnate’s estate. They don’t quite stretch from floor to ceiling, so we installed beautiful chair rails and crown moldings to make them fit.
Those hot pink curtains would have scared a lot of clients — and designers! Was it difficult to pull the trigger on that combination?
Whenever I design a room, I’m always looking to find that special something that’s original and interesting. When I came across Porter Teleo’s Silk Scarf fabric, something just clicked. I loved the idea of pairing an old- fashioned, antique wallpaper with a contemporary, painterly fabric. Both the wallpaper and the silk have touches of coral in them. A sun-kissed palette — corals, pinks, and yellows — works so well at the beach in this part of the country.
The bedrooms are especially colorful. Even the carpets have shades of coral and pink!
I’d already chosen a light peach palette for one of the daughters’ rooms when I came across that fabulous Raoul Textiles print with shades of peach, yellow, blue, and fuchsia. I used it to cover a little Victorian chair Christina had owned for years, then picked out colors in it for other elements in the room, from the raspberry bedspread to the marine-blue side table. Another bedroom is shaped like an octagon. I thought it would be fun to blur the lines with a colorful patterned wallpaper. The master bedroom was designed last. It needed a more tranquil palette. I discovered that 1980s leather marshmallow chaise and worked from there. The curtains are in a neutral linen, but they’re lined with a coral silk that peeks out.
The living room feels a bit 1980s. Was that intentional?
I definitely didn’t set out to design an ’80s-inspired room, but I couldn’t resist those vintage slipper chairs! Before Christina and I met, I passed a consignment store that had four slipper chairs in a pale peach silk linen right outside. I took pictures, sent them to her, and said, “I don’t know exactly what we’re doing yet, but these are very cool and a steal.” I hunted down the fabric and discovered it was Brunschwig & Fils. But rather than have the chairs re-covered, we ended up using all four of them with the original fabric, even though it had been faded by the sun over the years. Christina didn’t mind. “It’s a vacation house,” she told me. “I’ve got five kids running all over the place, and a dog.” And even in this condition, the chairs look great.
Fabulous vintage finds like those really make this interior feel special. Is that typically how you roll?
I think I am known for that. Drop me off at a good flea market, and I’m as happy as a clam. When it comes to furniture and accessories, I’ve always loved the hunt. Every time I travel — whether it’s to New York City, Los Angeles, Miami or even Paris — I am constantly going to all of the shops and having things shipped back. I think vintage furniture helps a project feel original and fresh. I like to incorporate pieces that convey a sense of having been collected from different locations and over a period of time. It results in a house that’s so much more interesting and inviting.