Be Inspired By The Classic Christmas Décor In This Lowcountry Inn

Harrison residence dining room and living room
Photo: Lucas Allen

Steve and Marianne Harrison, owners of Beaufort's magical Rhett House Inn, built a traditional cottage as their own modern retreat. The New York transplants and retired fashion designers show us how traditional Christmas colors can enhance your home's aesthetic in their simply decorated South Carolina home. Deep shades of traditional Christmas red create dramatic Christmas décor throughout the house, contrasting against the home's clean white and rich ebony interior palette. Classic Christmas decorations adorn the staircases, drape the fireplace mantle, and light up the room in traditional Christmas colors. The stately, yet simple and classic Christmas tree creates interest with old and new silver ornaments of all shapes and sizes, while heirloom silver adds a complementary sparkle throughout the house. The spirit of Christmas shines through this holiday home, and we can't help but be inspired by the bold, red color and the warmth of classic holiday decorations in this traditional Christmas cottage.

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The Harrison's House

The Harrison's House
Photo: Lucas Allen

The Harrisons fell in love with the history, people, and architecture of the South. So much so that they chose a classic Lowcountry style for the house they had designed and built 17 years ago.

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A New Life in the Lowcountry

Steve and Marianne Harrison
Photo: Lucas Allen

Steve and Marianne 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," said 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," said 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.

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Make a Dramatic Interior

Dramatic Interior
Photo: Lucas Allen

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," said 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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Jim Thomas, Thomas & Denzinger Architects, Charleston, SC; Thomas and Denzinger Architects.
Contractor: Chuck Ferguson, The Meridian Company, Beaufort, SC;
Antique silver (some pieces are homeowners'):
available through Replacements, Ltd.;

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Add High Contrast

White Walls and Red Accents Christmas Foyer
Lucas Allen

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;

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Create a Classic Style

Harrison residence dining room and living room
Lucas Allen

"Dark floors paired with white upholstery are so classic," said 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."

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  • Custom cabinetry: by Bill Bosworth.
  • Silver buckets (on bookcases): German Silver Beverage Bucket by Wisteria;
  • Paisley shawl: antique, available from Laura Fisher at FISHER HERITAGE;
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Open Spaces

Open Space Kitchen
Photo: Lucas Allen

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.

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Raise the Fireplace

Raised Fireplace
Photo: Lucas Allen

Marianne raised the kitchen's fireplace to be easily viewed when they're sitting at the table.

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Tone Down the Tree

Red and White Living Room Christmas Tree
Lucas Allen

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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Discover the Elegance of Simplicity

Holiday Style Secrets: Discover the elegance of simplicity.
Photo: Lucas Allen

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.

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Limit your Holiday Palette.

Holiday Style Secrets: Weave in the warmth of fabric.
Photo: Lucas Allen

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.

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Invite Collections Out to Play

Holiday Style Secrets: Invite collections out to play.
Photo: Lucas Allen

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.

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Weave in the Warmth of Fabric

Holiday Style Secrets: Weave in the warmth of fabric.
Photo: Lucas Allen

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.

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Stay at the Inn

Wish You Were Here
Photo: Lucas Allen

Meet owners Marianne and Steve Harrison at the nearly 200-year-old Rhett House Inn.

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