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Low Clutter In The Lowcountry - Part 1

The Lowcountry’s classic coastal looks get even better when remixed with a minimalist eye, which was the driving force behind substantial overhauls at Wild Dunes Resort.

To bring traditional Lowcountry design into the twenty-first century, the key is to strip it down - like pulling the ribbons and bows off Scarlett O’ Hara’s favorite party frock. That’s what Kelley Levesque of design 5280 set out to do at Wild Dunes Resort, where she oversaw the complete redo of the Resort’s Boardwalk Inn, as well as updates to the Grand Pavilion, Coastal Provisions, and other spaces on the property.

Her approach was to redefine traditional Lowcountry according to the core principles of minimalism. “Before it felt dark and heavy; now it’s brighter and lighter,” Levesque says.”We replaced a lot of the more traditional elements, such as floral damask rugs, heavy upholstery pieces, drapes at the windows, and traditional brass light fixtures with lighter, more casual elements and a simpler palette.


Color was a huge part of the equation. The inn’s dark reds, greens, and gold gave way to neutral charcoals and ivories, accented by patterns with local significance and bold splashes of blue and coral. The blue she used recalls the “haint blue” porch ceilings that are a common feature of Lowcountry homes (the color was said to keep away evil spirits.) PLayful black-and-white graphics on textiles and upholstery harken back to the checkered walkways and porches found in many of Charleston’s historic homes. In a group of sepia-toned sketches of Charleston ironwork, complete with artisans; handwritten notes, on one wall of the lobby.

Bringing the outside in is another focus of the Lowcountry. Levesque paid homage to that rule by replacing the wall between the lobby and coastal provisions with floor-to-ceiling glass panels - with an etched seagrass design - to give guests in both spaces a glimpse of the boardwalk beyond. She also integrated coral textures -on light fixtures, accessories, and even an octopus-bedecked pillow- to bring the sea into public spaces and guest rooms.

As for furnishings, Levesque kept some of the inn’s stately wood consoles, tables, and chairs and mixed in newer, more casual pieces. Other details of the redesign were simple but impactful, like taking the cherrywood floors from a high polish down to a glowing satin finish for a fresher, more relaxed feel.

For more about maximizing minimal design, read here.

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