Designer Alaina Michelle Ralph transformed this nearly 150-year-old Summerville home with a careful selection of period-appropriate antiques and a showstopping Iksel wallpaper depicting the Italian countryside to complement the Italianate architecture.
SCene Stealer: The 18-foot ceilings in an octagonal room at the center of this circa-1877 Summerville house rise to a dramatic skylight dome replete with an original plaster crown. The high rosette window brings the only natural light into the room, so designer Alaina Michelle Ralph created a “view” using a scenic Iksel wallpaper and lightened the room by extending the “sky” with Benjamin Moore’s “Woodlawn Blue” paint. The mural depicts an idyllic Italian countryside scene evoking the home’s Italianate architectural style.
Gather round: Furnishing the rotunda was a challenge. Ralph created two distinct seating areas, one around the fireplace, above which she added a large antique mirror to help reflect natural light from the skylight, and the other occupying the opposite side. She tied the spaces together with a large vintage Oushak rug.
Center Stage: Ralph placed this antique mahogany table in the middle of the rotunda to ground the height of the space and delineate the seating areas, creating clear pathways on either side to allow for movement through this central room.
ANTIQUE ALLURE: Ralph filled one area of the rotunda with a custom sofa surrounded by two Regency armchairs and a coffee table from Terrace Oaks antiques. Two pillows covered in a gold Fortuny fabric provide a pop of color while two neoclassical floor lamps from Well Furnished and a pair of double wall sconces from Urban Archaeology in the Federalist style add light to the previously dark room.
Warming Trend: The wood-paneled den was completed in the 1950s by then-owner author Paul Hyde Bonner for his study. The pine comes from a mill in Summerville that’s still operational. Ralph sourced a few accessories to complement the warm room, including a gold-leaf-framed portrait from 17 South Antiques and a vintage chair from Antiques of South Windermere. She livened up the space with fun fabric from Rogers & Goffigon and Cindy Barganier Textiles for the sofa pillows.
A Study in Contrasts: Details such as the red leather-bound volumes in the bookcase and the amber glass lamps flanking the leather sofa play up the tones of the wood paneling, whereas the crisp white sofa adds interest.
Fine Dining: The rotunda opens into the dining room, a later addition, which itself leads to the renovated kitchen. Ralph opened up these rooms to create one continuous space. She kept the original basket-weave parquet floors, continuing them into the kitchen to tie the rooms together. She also updated the window trim work to better match the original architectural details and added an ornate chandelier from David Skinner Antiques above the dining table. The antique sideboard holds two urn lamps from Wynsum Antiques & Interiors; a Grecian figure below a convex mirror from Well Furnished adds a touch of whimsy to the scene.
Kitchen Confidence: An antique etched bell lantern hangs above a restored Winn Dixie butcher-block table (opposite), which lends old-world charm and additional work space. Classic brass hardware gives the new cabinetry painted in Sherwin Williams’s “Aunt Betty’s China” an antique touch.
Color Story: In the primary bedroom, Ralph reused much of the Fergusons’ existing furniture, refreshing the space with a new palette of creams, purples, and burgundies. A vintage textile rug and custom shams add interest to the four-poster bed, and a custom bench is covered with a durable Itex fabric to accommodate the couple’s two dogs. Vintage Murano glass table lamps highlight their collection of botanical art, accentuated by the Benjamin Moore “Elephant Gray” wall paint.
Tennis, Anyone? The couple’s daughter, an avid tennis player, decorated her Victorian-era bed with a vintage racquet gallery wall. Ralph added small round bedside tables from 17 South Antiques to fit in with the unusual hexagon shape of the room. Two decorative dragonfly pillows from Antiques of South Windermere provide a playful pop of color.
The careful, decade-long renovation included making the most of an unusually-shaped room at the center of the house