Open Door Policy: A “dollhouse” in Riverland Terrace
Ever noticed how you can tell immediately how someone feels about their house? When they introduce it with to-do lists and apologies, they’ve got a ways to go before they’re satisfied. A descriptive tour paired with lots of history and provenance means they’re proud to show it off.
Best of all though? The folks who open the door with a smile, and look as comfortable in their home as in their own skin. There's an ease about these folks, the kind you get from wearing a favorite sweater or settling into a beloved chair. These are people who love where they live.
As I mentioned last week, I’d like to bring you an inside peek at the houses I scout for Charleston Home, and there seemed no more appropriate place to start than with a spot I found last week in Riverland Terrace. Owner Betsy Warren opened the door wearing a gorgeous summer dress with big red flowers on it—it was just a “day dress” for her, but I remember thinking how much fun it would be to go dancing in that get-up.
Around 900 square feet, her house was just your average brick and dark-paneled cottage when she bought it. But Betsy, who I quickly learned has an extraordinary eye for design, envisioned this as her “dollhouse”—and immediately set out to make it just that. She went through and whitewashed all brick and wood surfaces, painted the floor a light green, and moved in perfectly sized and suited furnishings in soft blues and greens.
What did I love about this visit? Several things: one, watching Betsy in her house was inspiring. She was in love with it, and moved about like she'd lived there all her life. In a very short span of time, she created the nest she envisioned and did so with remarkable efficiency.
Second, it was one of those two-hour, kindred-spirits visits that I love. I learned that Betsy is from the Pacific Northwest, has an incredible vintage clothing collection, and is as adept at knowing what she wants and needs in a house as she is when acquiring a 1950s hand-painted shirtdress. We talked about life in cottages versus life in 2,000+ square-footers, color and comfort, and keeping a Southern garden.
Speaking of, that’s what else I loved about the visit. Out back, she’s fashioned a good old Southern lawn, with a fountain, honeysuckle, and a comfortable place to sit. It was pure nostalgia, a glimpse back to my old neighborhood in the 1970s. She’s lucky I didn’t plant myself there all day.
I can’t wait to go back and bring you more—for now, check out my scouting shots in the photo gallery attached.