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The Coburn Hutchinson House

Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design

April 11, 2019

The Coburn Hutchinson House

Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design

April 11, 2019

Welcome back to the Hudson Valley Lighting Group blog and thanks for coming! Today on the slab for you, we have Part 1 of what will in time be a grand reveal of an epic restoration/renovation project.

Michelle Woolley Sauter is a professional artist and interior designer. With a personal history spanning the landscapes from Southern Florida to Northern Michigan, Michelle has the places where the seas (or Great Lakes) meet the land woven into her spirit. This love of the mystical coastline infuses her painting and informs her design, with yachts being one of her specialties.

She and her husband Brian fell in love with Summerville, South Carolina, something of a perfect midpoint of the places she grew up, with both the coastal landscape and the sense of history she loves. Identifying as a New Traditionalist, the architecture of this historic area is right in line with her passions. Michelle and Brian are restoring an 1859 Historic House in Historic Downtown Summerville where she will live as Artist-in-Residence. She's chosen Hudson Valley Lighting Group pieces for the whole space, which are perfectly suited to Michelle's aesthetic of traditional meets modern, contemporary sensibility with an informed sense of history.

Michelle shared her moodboards for this massive undertaking and answered some questions about the project. You can click on any of her moodboards to go to her original posts on them on her blog, where all credits and links are given. Later this year, we'll post the reveal for the finished space.

The Coburn Richardson House on Richardson Ave before work commenced

Tell us a little bit about what makes the house special.  What made you choose this home?

I will tell you, from the very first time my husband and I visited Charleston we were in love with it. We came here often and this was one of our favorite getaways. On one such visit, we decided to take a short hop to check out this bedroom community of the Holy City called Summerville, we couldn’t believe how charming the town was! (and obviously still is). How did we not know of this place?! With street upon street of trees with Spanish moss dripping from the limbs, antebellum cottages with climbing vines, gorgeous rooflines and streets perfumed with the blossoms of gardenias and jasmine, its Southern charm simply cast its spell on us.

Then we found we had an opportunity to relocate here from the Raleigh area and we didn’t hesitate. We already knew how beautiful Summerville was, and after familiarizing ourselves with the different enclaves, our house-hunt for the perfect home for an "Artist-in-Residence" commenced. The house we chose is actually typed "rare" for the area.  It is one of 3 Charleston singles in Summerville. Ours is three windows wide instead of the two window width traditionally found in the peninsula of Charleston. We also loved the fact that it was right downtown and struck us as a proper city house.  We knew right away that we needed to compile a full history as to the lineage of the house and we put together an abstract that shows the chain of title back to the early 1800s including the name of the plantation that the property the house sits on belonged to. It was then time for us to name the house, "The Coburn Hutchinson House," and commence our chapter of the book.

How will the history/location of this house play into the design?

Summerville is aptly named "Flower Town in the Pines." It earned its name through the influx of wealthy Charlestonians that came to Summerville to "take the cure" and clear their lungs in the 19th century, as Yellow Fever was a real problem in the port city in the mid-1800s. Because the entire town was filled with pine trees,  and it was believed the turpentine in the air from the pines helped to clear one's lungs, it was a destination for healing for those suffering from pulmonary issues. But it is the pretty streets filled with azaleas and the aromas of other types of southern blooms that not only drew luminaries like Elizabeth Arden to winter here year after year but have also influenced and flavored our choices. All of these elements have serendipitously guided us into a more romantic, lyrical, organic, naturalistic design theme that we couldn’t be happier about. And of course, our design choices are driven by the eras the House has survived…they are classic yet approachable. The House itself really draws you in and everyone that drops by always comments on that feature. By making thoughtful lighting decisions that set the mood and incorporating décor decisions that showcase unique items crafted by local artisans, we maintain that cozy, hospitable, and welcoming environment.

How will lighting play a part?

I feel that lighting is the jewelry of the home, a focal point in all the rooms. The lighting we chose for the rooms illuminate the spaces but also tell a story with regard to the classicism and history—how the past intersects with the present as we head into the future of design choices of the House. It is a gathering place for authors, garden designers, entrepreneurs, painters, thinkers, chefs, makers, speakers, and interior designers. Our clients, especially, love to see the lighting choices in the setting of the rooms. Scale and spatial perspective can be enjoyed in situ and curling up with a good book in the glow of beautiful lighting make the experience even more enjoyable.

Talk about some of the fixtures you’ll be using, and why.

The Lily pendant from Corbett Lighting, located in the eat-in kitchen, is a nod to our location in downtown Flower Town, but it’s so much deeper than that. As soon as you enter through the kitchen door, it is the first thing you see and it draws your eye up. It’s a gathering place for us, all the fun and laughter we enjoy here, cooking, wine tasting…everything is enhanced with beautiful, thoughtful lighting fixtures that set the mood for gathering. Our choice in lighting here sets the tone for hospitality and is a nod to the history and all the flowers the town is known for.  It's so welcoming and beautiful and when sunlight comes through the window and illuminates the flowers, it's a stunningly pretty moment!

Amadeus is our spectacle. It makes such a statement when you come through the stair hall entrance and lets you know you are in a special place.  It emits strength and masculinity, but with the touches of glam that we die for! We are smitten with the nod to the town from the Vienna Bronze branches reaching out and dripping with the most beautiful drops. Overall we love how it warms our space and makes it feel elegant, gracious, and organic in one fell swoop.

As you approach the grand staircase and lift your eyes, Dolce is positioned at the top of the main stair hall. As dolce means sweet, it reminds us of the sweet, thick aroma of white jasmine that only opens as the sun sets on a cool summer night…raindrops lighting on honeysuckle. Especially in the evening when it is dimly lit, it takes your breath away.

What’s the story you want this home to tell once it’s completed?

We pride ourselves in being a forward-thinking design firm. We love and enjoy creating spaces that move us into the future while retaining classic elements that will not go out of style. Ultimately, with this Historic House project, our goal is to honor the past today. By blending the design palette between 1859 and today, we are creating a space that spans the generations, pays tribute to how far we have come, and shows how we can move forward.

What advice would you give to someone renovating an old/historic home? How do you find a balance and tie together the old and the new?

I enjoy making thoughtful choices. I find doing the research to get all the information I can is key with historic homes. Find knowledgeable people in the immediate area to educate you. It's a good idea to commission a historic design consultant who can help you move forward on the correct path, as many mistakes in regard to color and hard surfaces can be costly to remediate. Take strides not to pigeonhole yourself into a vision of new vs old. Honor your vision but always remember to listen to the house…it wants you to help it to tell its story.

Michelle kindly shared some parting thoughts with us about what we offer to the interior designer.

A few extra thoughts (aka ‘Things we loooove about the Hudson Valley Lighting Group’)

•    Responsiveness to inquiries and thoughts are so fast and insightful

•    Professional yet always warm

•    Attention to detail is a force to be reckoned with

We adore that you offer so many amazing lighting choices!  Definitely didn’t make choosing easy, though! The overall selection, as a whole, dovetails nicely with the house and our design ethos so beautifully…Hudson Valley made it so easy to collaborate.


Aww, thanks, Michelle!

Keep an eye out later this year for the reveal as the Coburn Hutchinson House undergoes its grand restoration.