Carriage House by Workstead

A rare opportunity to experience an important part of South Carolina’s history, Carriage House sees the restoration of an existing kitchen house into a contemporary townhouse by Workstead.

Located in what is known as Charleston’s Bee’s Row (following William Bee’s occupation with his blockade-running firm during the Civil War), this originally constructed 1800’s kitchen house was intended as a support structure for meal and laundry preparation for the main homes. Remnants of its history and cues to its interesting and layered past inform the restoration and new interior fit out. Bought and restored by father-son duo, the original structure was reinstated and transformed into the two-storey townhouse it is today by hand. Workstead was then brought into the fold, to complete the interior.

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Completed in 2018, Carriage House covers 185 sqm of internal living area, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, spread over its two floors. The lower level is primarily for more communal and shared spaces, such as the living room and kitchen. The living room houses two gas fireplaces that were originally utilised for the home’s cooking and laundering.

The kitchen then forms the central hearth of the home, where many of the home’s functions stem. It is a gathering space, a making space and a nurturing space. Adjacent is the dining area, clad in floor to ceiling cypress and cane custom joinery by Clay Richardson of ECR Joinery, with a custom deep window seat, creating a sense of the cosy.

On the upper floors are the bedroom and bathroom spaces, offering a more reclusive retreat. As per the period style of its original planning, upon reaching this top floor, there is an anteroom, which was traditionally used as a waiting room, prior to entering a larger, more important meeting space within a home. The bedrooms are then embellished with timber, with white painted beams and ceilings and exposed brickwork and minimal furniture.

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Workstead’s own Signal Pendant creates a delicate, modern touch point.

Throughout the home, the expression of the existing is everywhere. From the brickwork, with fragmented pieces of the existing plaster, to the timber floor and exposed beams, the history of previous occupants is chiselled into each room. Through the layering of new custom joinery, curved metallic edge detailing, hand-turned wooden hardware and exposed piping and ductwork, the new elements still allow for the old to exist in harmony.

Workstead’s use of their beautifully industrial and hand-made lighting, together with artisanal pieces and heavy linens show a deep respect for the home’s history and maker’s past. Carriage House is a welcoming and warm home, both texturally and in terms of its materiality; living proof that renovation and restoration for a contemporary life need not disregard context or its custodians who came before them.

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