We're Loving This Lowcountry Farmhouse House Plan
The Forever Farmhouse
Soothing: When decorator Sarah Bartholomew thinks about Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina, that's the word that comes to mind. And who could blame her? From the majestic coastline to the gas lamp-lined streets, the picturesque enclave emits gentle relaxation at every turn. Therefore, when clients asked her to twirl up their newly constructed home, that single word—soothing— became Bartholomew's design mantra. "I wanted to replicate the community's overall feel throughout the interiors," the decorator explains.
The bones of the home—the Southern Living Lowcountry Farmhouse (Plan SL-2000)—gave her a good start. The 2,754-square-foot home, designed by the Court Atkins Group in Bluffton, South Carolina, is rooted in the Lowcountry vernacular. "The main goal here was to create a relatively timeless look, with classic Southern elements such as a gracious porch and a wide central passage that allows for pleasant cross breezes," says William Court, lead architect on the design. While genteel, the home is far from straitlaced thanks to farmhouse-inspired finishes such as rough-hewn hardwood floors and shiplap-paneled walls, in addition to the appropriately low-key floor plan. "The idea was to combine casual materials and a sunny open concept for a home that just instantly makes you feel at ease," Court says.
With those attributes as her framework, Bartholomew set out to blend the sophisticated and the serene, just as Palmetto Bluff does. First up, a palette of fresh neutrals. "Sometimes, vacation homes can take the bring-the-outside-in concept a bit too far," she says. "Instead, subtle interpretations of the terrain, like keeping things light and bright, prove to be far more stylish and trend proof." Room by room, Bartholomew incorporated weathered accents, marsh-inspired hues, and discreet antiques for elegant spaces that make you want to linger. Read on for her top tricks to create a beautiful, easygoing home.
Keeping It Quiet
The home's subdued exterior features the hallmarks of traditional Lowcountry style, such as a spacious front porch, tailored millwork, and louvered shutters (complete with shutter dogs). "The symmetrical design makes for a striking facade, but it's simple enough to avoid detracting from the surrounding natural beauty of the area," explains Court.
Calm, Cool, and Coordinated
The home's open floor plan is the crux of its appeal. Bartholomew wanted visual cohesion, but she was careful to keep the look from going too one-note. Case in point: the gathering room, where she deliberately set off the space with a nubby grass cloth wallcovering (Cowtan & Tout's Mecox in Sand) that imbues the area with coziness and highlights the exterior brick applied around the fireplace as well. Marble would have looked too formal, and tile would have felt too sterile. Bartholomew mixed plush seating with calm colors and tactile accents to create this restful space.
A Dash of Opulence
Bartholomew wanted the interiors to be equal parts polished and approachable. One smart way she walked that fine line? Splurging on showstopping lighting. "The fixtures are a great way to introduce some of the homeowners' personality. Since the materials aren't within arm's reach, they can be precious or the design ornate without taking away from the comfort or function of the room," the decorator explains. Key accessories (like the linen cafe curtains, striped runner, and upholstered stools) help warm up the classic white kitchen.
A Natural Instinct for Design
"Palmetto Bluff has an organic beauty with the live oaks, Spanish moss, and tall marsh grasses," says Bartholomew. She let the scenery influence her surface selections but refined the rustic touches with sleek modern art by Catherine Booker Jones. The simple shapes and quiet colors don't overwhelm. As an ode to the lamplit streets of Palmetto Bluff, Bartholomew installed a white-painted lantern over the dining table.
A Cozy Little Corner
Who says a pass-through area has to be an afterthought? The floor plan's wide central hallway allows for pleasant breezes as well as lots of natural light. Bartholomew even eked out a stylish living space. The large glass doors are flanked with linen curtain panels, and a handsome table and slipper chairs are placed just inside. The smart setup creates an inviting spot for guests to sit and stay awhile.
In the master bedroom, Bartholomew rather ingeniously topped a Louis XVI-style bed with a patterned slipcover. The tie-on covers add cottage-like detailing to the formal design. "It's fun to play with traditional motifs. Pairing the contrasting looks is more pleasing to the eye than a single style might have been," she adds. It's also easy to change out a slipcover. Bartholomew continued the balancing act with various patterns throughout the room, using striped curtains and bordered pillow shams to ground the swirling pattern on the bed's slipcover.
The trick to making a master bath feel like a place for pampering? Don't treat it like a bath. Bartholomew appointed this one with a freestanding tub (which seems more like a piece of furniture), a living room-worthy chair, and wallpaper (only above the wainscot). She also extended the wood floors into the room. The unexpected combo of Roman shades and cafe curtains cleans up nicely, bringing supreme privacy, natural light, and tailored touches to the master bath.