Southern Beauty: Carolyne Roehm and Chisholm – Alston House in Charleston

Growing up, my family would spend a week in Isle of Palms, SC just outside of Charleston. My love for Charleston started early and explains why I enjoyed getting a look at Carolyne Roehm’s Chisholm-Alson House in the video from Quintessence.

Chisholm-Alston House

I must have been living under a rock, because my first introduction to Carolyne Roehm was through a video on the Quintessence blog a year or so ago. Ageless, Ms. Roehm has been a force in design and American creative culture for years. From fashion, to floral design, to her painting, she’s a multi-talented wonder.

Recently she took viewers on a tour of her circa 1834 historic Charleston, SC home, the Chisholm-Alston house. Take a moment to see it for yourself:

It was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at an historic Charleston home. Of course, this took me down an internet rabbit hole. I soon discovered details (including pictures) of the Chisholm-Alston House at the Library of Congress. …and then the Zillow listing of the house before Ms. Roehm worked her magic there.

It’s a little bit like being an anthropologist when you look at pictures of house listings online. In the Zillow listing of the Chisholm-Alston house, you can see the previous owners did a fine job making a home in the historical mansion. However, Ms. Roehm takes it to a whole different level. A great example is comparing the dining room before and after. While the previous owners had a lovely table and breakfront, the chandelier was undersized and the room didn’t feel pulled together. Ms. Roehm adds a color theme, brings in a larger chandelier, and decorates with restrained layers to a very pleasant effect. The seagrass or sisal rug is a nod to Charleston’s location near tidewater marshes full of seagrass.

When they go upstairs, the Givenchy inspired room decorated with Braquenie’s Tree of Life pattern. It’s WOW! Here’s a little bit I learned about the famous pattern from Vogue:

Named Le grand Génois, Braquenié’s version is set on a pale background, where a tree climbs upwards, its wispy branches decorated with sprays of jade-colored leaves and silhouettes of lotus flowers, petals fanning out like the feathers of a peacock. Though the print is synonymous with Braquenié, it was actually a copy—sometime in the late 18th century, the Braquenié brothers saw it printed on an Indian palampore and reproduced it for the local market.

So, thanks to Ms. Roehm for adding her own special flair to the layers of history in Charleston. Like those before her, she’s committed to preservice the architectural history of Charleston while adding her own sense of style and grace.

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