Classic Christmas Decorations in the Lowcountry
The Harrison's House
The Harrisons fell in love with the history, people, and architecture of the South, choosing classic Lowcountry style for the house they had designed and built 17 years ago.
Steve and Marianne Harrison
Steve and Marianne Harrison are the first to admit they were an unlikely couple to migrate South. “We were a typical New York City couple whose extent of travels to the South was Florida,” says Marianne. But after 25 years in the fashion industry, they were both lured by the promise of a simpler way of life owning a historic inn in Beaufort, South Carolina.
With their kids grown and gone, the two decided to dive into a whole new lifestyle. They got hooked the graciousness of the people and the deep vein of American history they tapped in the coastal town. “When I lost my enthusiasm for the fashion business, I found it again in this area,” says Steve. Fueled by their newfound passion, the couple transformed The Rhett House Inn from a five-room inn into a four-diamond property with 17 rooms and luxury amenities.
After living in The Rhett House Inn for several years, the Harrisons turned to Jim Thomas, the architect who had led the restoration and renovation of the inn. “We had land at the back of the property to build a house,” says Marianne. “We wanted it to blend with the inn and look like it had been there forever.”
Influenced by crisp British Colonial style, Marianne limited the interior palette to clean white and rich ebony shades. She furnished the spaces with classic American and English pieces previously housed in the inn or handcrafted locally.
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Architect: Jim Thomas, Thomas & Denzinger Architects, Charleston, SC; thomasanddenzinger.com.
Contractor: Chuck Ferguson, The Meridian Company, Beaufort, SC; themeridiancompany.com.
Antique silver (some pieces are homeowners’): available through Replacements, Ltd.; replacements.com
The classic contrast of dark woods against white walls was inspired by the home and art of Marianne’s brother, celebrated photographer Rodney Smith.
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Black and white photos: by Rodney Smith; rodneysmith.com.
“Dark floors paired with white upholstery are so classic,” says Marianne. “We’ve lived with this look for 17 years and never grow tired of it. It doesn’t go out of style. I just change the flowers.”
Without upper cabinets along the kitchen’s main wall, the room remains as open and airy as the rest of the house.
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Dining table: also custom, by Bill Bosworth.
Marianne raised the kitchen’s fireplace to be easily viewed when they’re sitting at the table.
Holiday Style Secrets: Tone down the tree.
The common color of old and new silver ornaments makes them elegant; different shapes and sheens make them interesting. Red beads mimic cranberries without the mess. Vintage-look white bulbs cast a calming glow. A Fraser fir tree holds lots of ornaments.
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- Plaid throw: Merino Throw in Scarlet (52277) by Pendleton; pendleton-usa.com.
- Fraser fir tree: also from Green Valley Christmas Trees.
- Ornaments, tree lights, and flocked pinecones: from Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies; jamaligarden.com.
- Tree topper: Silver Snowflake with Flower Tree Topper (TT0201L) by Arcadia Home; arcadiahomeinc.com.
Holiday Style Secrets: Discover the elegance of simplicity.
Fussy decorations only add to holiday stress. Garlands of white pine studded with wired-on magnolia leaves highlight the architecture. Wreaths are adorned only with wide red ribbons.
Holiday Style Secrets: Limit your holiday palette.
The Harrisons’ seasonal decorations, like the home itself, get their subtle sophistication from a carefully chosen color scheme of red, green, and silver. The idea is to enhance your style with decorations, not engulf it.
Holiday Style Secrets: Invite collections out to play.
Heirloom silver adds sparkle throughout. Pitchers hold loose clutches of red roses and evergreen branches (trimmed from the bottom of the tree), candlesticks boast red tapers, and silver containers hold pears and pinecones.
Holiday Style Secrets: Weave in the warmth of fabric.
You can dress the sofa for the season simply by tossing on a red paisley shawl. Tablecloths, throws, and even yards of fabric can add flair and cover up chair seats or stools that don’t suit your holiday scheme.
Wish You Were Here
Meet owners Marianne and Steve Harrison at the nearly 200-year-old Rhett House Inn.