Name: Deidre Alexander
Location: Wagener Terrace; Charleston, South Carolina
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; Rented
I'm not going to lie. I may or may not have stumbled across photos of Deidre's apartment while searching for a place to stay on a recent short visit to Charleston, South Carolina, and I may or may not have completely abused the system and risked getting the boot by emailing her to tell her that while I'd already booked with another host, she had to let me come over and take pictures so I could feature her home on Apartment Therapy and please don't tell on me, kthanks.
Fortunately for me and definitely fortunately for you, Deidre apparently isn't easily creeped out by approaches from random internet strangers like myself, and graciously accepted my earnest insistence. Of course, I should've guessed she's a designer by trade. Much more of her work can be seen on her website, Leaf Design Studio.
A few years ago, while driving through the neighborhood and praying the house gods would send her a sign that would allow her to escape from her current living situation, Deidre experienced a classic case of kismet when she saw a man placing the rental sign near the house on the corner, which had always been one of her favorites due to its unique architecture. She immediately asked to see the space, and knew it was meant to be when he showed her the large home office with a separate entry.
Deidre's home is truly eclectic, filled with a motley collection of DIY projects, refurbished furnishings, and fortuitous designer finds. The Drexel wing chair in her living room was a funky, mustard discovery made before she even knew she wanted to be a residential designer, and a settee matching the one in her office can be found in a historic home on The Battery (minus the modern upholstery, of course).
With an aesthetic that incorporates quirky shapes and pleasing pops of color with "grown-up" furniture and interesting works of art, Deidre has managed to pull together a rental space that feels both comfortable and bold. I was totally ready to move in. My favorite room wasn't really a room, but the breezeway that connects the office to her garden and also her living room via a set of mini French doors topped with a pretty transom light. Even that space, with its bright yellow garden door and oversized basket light, shows a little of her her designer touch.
I did my best with limited lighting to capture Deidre's home on that stormy Charleston day — and I hope I did it justice!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Eclectic/Vintage.
Inspiration: My style has evolved from many different aspects of my life, past and present, and is inspired by travel, comfort, and beauty.
Favorite Element: I love the little details that were added by the architect who owned/renovated the place. The small french doors that lead into the sun room and the barrel door in my office are two unique features of the house that really stand out.
Biggest Challenge: Having such an open/narrow floor plan downstairs has been difficult, but it’s given me space to play and be creative in delineating the spaces. Another challenge has been the white tile floors throughout the whole downstairs. Not only are they a pain to keep clean, but acoustically and visually it’s not my style, so I picked fun rugs that would absorb shock and sound, as well as help with separating the spaces!
What Friends Say: They love that I have outfitted my house with unique, one-of-a-kind pieces on a budget! It inspires them with their own houses. I have found so many treasures in the most unexpected places. I am not afraid of a little spray paint and a glue gun, either — in fact, I refashion a lot of my inexpensive purchases into a one of a kind statement pieces.
Biggest Embarrassment: One bathroom. Two tenants. Enough said.
Proudest DIY: My yard. When I moved in, it was just dirt. I added the pavers and made the patio, then planted sod. This year I planted my first real garden, which weirdly enough, has given me more than vegetables, it’s taught me patience. I absolutely love being outside in my yard — it’s become my zen place. Coffee in the morning while I make out my to-do and a glass wine at the end of the day to reflect.
Biggest Indulgence: My sofa from Room Service Store in California. I fell in LOVE with the mix of vintage + modern details, along with the tufting and nailhead trim. The size is perfect, too. I’m 5’9” and the fact that I can stretch out without being cramped is a tall girl's dream!
Best Advice: Add color throughout the house using artwork. Group things in odd numbers. Don’t be afraid to mix different design styles.
Dream Sources: Habitat Restores, Goodwill, Estate Sales, Etsy, Local Furniture Stores, love every fabric & wallpaper from Osborne & Little, Schumacher, Lee Jofa & Jim Thompson. Furniture faves include Lee Industries, Worlds Away, CR Laine, and VandM.
Resources of Note:
Tray on Coffee Table: Marshalls Home Goods
Wing Chair: Drexel
Sideboard, Chest of Drawers, and Cupboard: Habitat ReStores
- Mariachi Band Painting: Estacien "Etta" J. Benjamin (aka. "E. Cien")
- Bed: Craigslist
- Bedding: West Elm
- Curtains and black white pillow: Ikea (no longer available; similar)
- Roman Shade: Lowes
- Chair: Goodwill, spray paint + fabric change
- Night stands: Habitat ReStore
- Dresser: Ikea
- Mirror: Marshalls Home Goods, with spray paint
- Bookshelf: Target
- Dictionary Page Prints: Collage-O-Rama (Etsy)
(Images: Katie Gard)
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Re-edited from a tour originally published August 2013 -- AB