Silver Lining

Kay Douglass’ Lowcountry South Carolina abode glows thanks to her distinctively chic decorating approach

For 13 years, South of Market proprietress Kay Douglass has operated a second outpost of her high-end Atlanta boutique in the Holy City, so it seems fitting that she and husband Jim would purchase a Charleston Single House located, well, south of Market.

The four-story, circa 1840 row house—the sort that’s one room wide and two or more rooms deep, with a central staircase—is situated on lower King, scarcely a stone’s throw from Battery Park.

“What I love most is how convenient it is,” Kay says. “We can walk to anything we want, which, after always needing a car in Atlanta, is amazing.”

Renovated in the 1980s, the four-bedroom residence left much to be desired, but that didn’t deter Kay, who could plainly see its potential beyond all the blemishes. It was “very dark, very brown, very traditional,” she recalls. “So it was a challenge to determine which features to bring up to modern day because we wanted to retain as many of the architectural details as we could.”

Kay, who travels to France frequently for work, was inspired by her stays in Parisian apartments and found ample opportunities to inject those influences into her family’s fresh pied-à-terre.

The first order of business? To wash everything in white. Kay chose Benjamin Moore’s Winter White for its unique countenance. “We wanted something with a really pale gray undertone to it but still bright,” she says. “The floors, for that matter, were a robust, old-fashioned brown. “I do a lot of washes on floors, so I tried many different grays to get one that would cover up the reddish tones, giving the house a European essence.”

During six months of rehab, the kitchen received the greatest overhaul. The Douglasses added copious cabinetry to the sleek cooking space and even converted a tiny porch into a spot for the refrigerator. Meanwhile, the adjoining dining room skews French Moderne thanks to a Saarinen tulip table and a curious contemporary chandelier.

To give the space a dual purpose, Kay installed two chaises—positioned in opposite corners of the room—which the family loves for lounging with coffee and the morning paper.

“One of my favorite things is sitting in the living room and watching the horse-drawn carriages go by,” Kay says of the space just across the main-floor stair hall. “And I love the globe lights more than anything; I bought them in Paris and have always wanted to use them for myself.”

One floor up, the master bedroom received a matching pendant, imbuing the minimalist, light-filled space with personality and panache.

“Only one wall would fit a king-size bed, so rather than run a low headboard underneath the windows, I decided to accent with that eye-catching velvet panel,” she says.

Featuring evergreen settees from South of Market’s own line of upholstery, the “drawing room” on the opposite side of the second-floor stair hall is ideal for leisurely days when the Douglasses do not feel like leaving their nest to venture downstairs.

But once they do, daily life around the peninsula is pretty much a breeze. “We can walk right out the door to dinner, lunch, coffee, a run on the Battery,” Kay says. And even on a rainy day, the family can always find sunshine inside. “It’s just a happy house,” she says. “When we’re here, we’re happy.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Kay Douglass, Kay Douglass Interiors (404) 995-0803;