Timeless Appeal

Two designing women transform a showhouse into a Fort Mill showstopper.

Who doesn’t love when a chance meeting leads to an amazing creative collaboration? In this case, it was a festive street party less than two years ago at the Southern Living Home Summit in New Orleans that brought together Cary, North Carolina–based designer Vicky Serany, founder and principal of Southern Studio Interior Design, and custom home builder Mary Ludemann of New Old. “We immediately connected and spent the evening discussing building and design as we followed a band marching through the French Quarter,” Serany recalls with a smile.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018, and the pair were in Fort Mill, South Carolina, along with Ludemann’s husband and business partner, Troy, visiting the site and reviewing plans for what would become The Bramble, Charlotte area’s first Southern Living Inspired Community, and the 4,200-square-foot Burnham show home. “Troy is a developer and had been wanting to do an intimate, high-end development for some time, he had just been waiting for the right location to come along,” Ludemann says.

Both firms are known for their casually sophisticated, livable designs. Their goal in this home was to push the limits of design and showcase some new ideas while still creating realistic spaces. “Our buyers want right-sized rooms, not a bunch of cavernous spaces,” Ludemann says. “They want each room to be thoughtfully planned for the type of living that will go on in that space.”

One look at the result and it’s clear that this team—with an assist from dozens of participating artisans and vendors—hit the sweet spot of what gracious living and entertaining in the South looks and feels like heading into the next decade: luxe functionality. While the ubiquitous modern farmhouse remains popular, it is quickly evolving and incorporating other architectural styles like craftsman and European.

Buyers still request shiplap, but here it’s mixed with bold stone accent walls and modern geometric-print wallcoverings. There’s also less gray and more jewel tones—a trend Serany predicted last year. “We used a warm textural palette with the added drama of the emerald-green color in the main living areas. We saw a lot of emerald green during our visit to the furniture market in High Point and decided it was time to bring this fresh perspective to life,” Serany says.

The key starting point was a fabric by Thibaut called Mitford—a lively combination of greens, black, and cream that was used for the window treatments and worked to bring nature indoors. Wallcoverings in smaller spaces like the pantry, laundry, and powder room complement this bold pattern. A pair of swoon-worthy emerald-green velvet sofas by Lee Industries anchor the living room, while a soaring stone wall crafted of thin-cut Tennessee Fieldstone by General Shale serves as the perfect backdrop for a conversation around the fireplace.

An open floor plan means all eyes can focus on the dramatic kitchen and its eight-foot-wide custom matte, black metal hood with bronze strapping. Serany’s Southern Studio team designed the range wall, and New Old enlisted ModernAire Ventilating to fabricate it. “It took eight men to lift and install the hood, and let’s just say it was nail-biting to watch,” Serany admits. The black and antique brass finishes extend to the lighting, fixtures, and hardware. The island, combining custom cabinetry by Walker Woodworking and a waterfall countertop of hand-cut honed Bianco Avion marble, provides plenty of prep space and comfortable seating. Black cowhide counter stools bring in rich texture. Two oversized Hollis Lanterns by Hudson Valley Lighting tie the space together, while a backsplash of white arabesque-patterned tile adds shine and pattern.

Just off the kitchen is every well-appointed home’s best-kept secret: a scullery. A British staple made famous by shows like Downton Abbey, this workhorse is making a twenty-first-century comeback. Large windows and light countertops by Silestone keep it bright, while the cozy feel comes from the stone-toceiling backsplash, graphite-toned cabinetry, and black and white porcelain flooring by Tile Collection. A twenty-four-inch under-counter beverage center by Sub-Zero frees up space in the main kitchen, and a thirty-inch Whitehaven Farmhouse sink by Kohler handles any party cleanup and other behind-the-scenes tasks. Custom shelving in the walk-in pantry, designed by IMPACT Design Resources and stocked by Williams Sonoma, surprises with hanging storage space for kitchen linens, while the laundry room incorporates a built-in dog bed underneath a handy desk that doubles as a folding station.

In the master bath, more beautiful details abound, seamlessly blending old and new. A shapely, freestanding soaking tub gets a vintage vibe when paired with a floormount tub filler in champagne bronze. A combination of shiplap and gleaming white tile on the walls and shower extends to the ceiling and provides interest and texture without a lot of color. The charcoal-hued porcelain tile flooring offers a rich contrast. Serany found the wooden chair, which doubles as a towel holder, during a recent shopping trip to the Brimfield, Massachusetts Antique Flea Market.

An upstairs guest bath stuns with its sleek pharmacy-style black vanity by Restoration Hardware and a striking abstract wallcovering called Metal Stars by abstract artist Windy O’Connor. Her original pattern continues into the bedroom on textiles for pillows and window treatments. It’s details like these that are meant to inspire, yet still be accessible—things people can take away and incorporate into their own homes.

“This home is a style that begs for you to take your shoes off, come in, and enjoy. I think people really like the juxtaposition of the space,” Ludemann says. “Kind of like the oxymoron of New Old—it’s the balance achieved in the differences.”