See How Southern Charm's Chelsea Meissner Transformed Her James Island, South Carolina Home
This worn-out rental became the ultimate laid-back Lowcountry surf shack.
Right at Home
Buying a run-down split-level rental was not Chelsea Meissner's original plan. "Due to the high-priced real estate in the area, I realized a fixer-upper was all I could afford. The house was in rough shape—old carpet, cheap finishes, every wall a different color, but I fell in love with the yard's massive 200-year-old oak trees as soon as I laid eyes on them," she says. Chelsea, a South Carolina native and cast member on Bravo's Charleston-based TV show Southern Charm, could envision the potential. The 2,100-square-foot house needed renovations from the ground up. Overwhelmed by where to even start, she strategized with her friend Kim Wolfe, a San Antonio-based designer. "I wanted my home to have character, be welcoming, and feel cozy," says Chelsea, who broke away from the restrained look that's typical of the Lowcountry. Instead, she found her own path to style: "It's relaxed with a bit of funk," she adds. Chelsea invites us inside and shares how she brought her adventurous spirit into her vibrant James Island home.
Start at the Front Door
"The entry needed to set the tone for the entire place but also be functional. Handwoven baskets are catchalls for keys, shoes, and packages, and the brass gazelle head is where I hang my dog's leash. The walnut-and-copper console was built by Green Wood Milling Company in San Antonio. The wood came from a walnut tree that fell during a tornado in Texas. It's an heirloom-quality piece I'll keep forever."
Show Your True Style
"The living room is equally great for watching a football game or reading a book. A few of my favorite things are in this area: a pair of leather swivel chairs from West Elm (worth every penny) and a photograph (bought for just $4 from Goodwill) over the mantel. I splurged on the leather chairs, but the antique hutch, coffee table, and velvet couch were bargain finds. My personality comes through in the coffee-table books like Surf Shack: Laid-Back Living by the Water and Salt & Silver: Travel, Surf, Cook."
Hobbies on Display
"I brought my coastal lifestyle inside. My surfboard stays in the living room," says Chelsea. "Photos from travels and childhood trinkets help make a house feel like a home." Another budget trick? Chelsea scraped off the original popcorn ceiling herself. While it was messy and took days, she ended up saving over $6,000.
Draw On Local Treasures
"The inspiration for the kitchen came from Huriyali, a local juice bar. The Clay Imports tile reminds me of the Caribbean; the glossy finish looks like water in certain lighting. It's one of my favorite moments in my home. Black appliances add masculinity and keep the room from feeling like a juice bar.
The kitchen renovation was major yet simple. I kept the layout of the space, which saved on electrical expenses, and used the original bottom cabinets, painting them Benjamin Moore's Seapearl (OC-19). "
Chelsea's Reno Picks:
Countertops - Yorkville by HanStone Quartz
Tile - Glazed Thin Brick Light Green-Gloss by Clay Imports
Sconces - Isle Sconce by Cedar & Moss
Refrigerator - SMEG 50's Retro Style in Orange
"The orange fridge was out of my comfort zone at first, but now I'm obsessed. Plus, I'm a huge Clemson fan," says Chelsea.
Carve Out a Cozy Corner
"The sunporch's 'indoor-out' vibe evolved from the hand-painted palm mural, which was created by artist Sam Malpass. I love seeing her work around town and begged her to put a personal touch on my home. I keep my plants (purchased from a local shop called Plant Babe) on an antique drying rack. Because of my on-the-go lifestyle, I always pick low-maintenance ones."
Design a Restful Retreat
"Inspired by my travels to Costa Rica, I wanted my bedroom to have a similar tropical feel. I was initially hesitant about the Cole & Son Palm Jungle wallpaper, but it turned out better than I could have imagined. The dark print with the moody lighting is relaxing. I chose simple and clean furniture (all from Wayfair) to counter the busy walls. This room is like my Zen sanctuary."