Just before their second child was born, creative couple Erin and Creighton Barrett were on the hunt for a new abode with a layout that would allow them both to comfortably work from home. When they found this 3,600-square-foot, 1978 classic ranch-style house in Charleston, South Carolina, they immediately fell in love—especially with the ’70s-style sunken living room. Over the last three years, they’ve artfully transformed it into a space that reflects their unique personal style.
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"I think the house really speaks for itself. So much of what is special about this home was already here when we purchased it. We just tried to highlight what we admired about it—the sunken living room, the openness, the natural light, and the vaulted ceilings," says Erin. She's a self-taught weaver and textile and interior designer who runs her own business—Sunwoven—from two studio spaces in the house that overlook the backyard and a marsh.
Creighton is the drummer for Band of Horses, and his music studio is located on the floor above the garage. With the exception of Creighton’s studio, the rest of the living areas are located on a single level, which Erin says is ideal for the way they live and work.
"When we purchased the house, it was very dark, outdated, and needed a lot of love. We felt like it was begging to be restored to show off all of the natural light it brought in. We really wanted to highlight all of the beautiful aspects of the property itself," says Erin.
The backyard faces a pond, and it's enclosed by the property’s original ornate metal fence. To the left of the backyard is a marsh, and beyond are views of downtown Charleston. According to Erin, "This was all hidden and covered up before, and we knew we wanted to open everything up to let the scenery flow in."
"The first thing we did was replace all of the dark cherry-colored wooden floors and tiles with a lighter, warmer-toned wood flooring. We also painted all the walls white. This immediately changed the feeling of the home, and left us with a fresh, blank canvas to work with," says Erin.
Upon stepping inside the double front doors, one arrives at an open entryway that looks right into the sunken living room with vaulted ceilings. "This room is what initially made us fall in love with the home. We had always longed for a bright, open living space with plenty of room to entertain, where our children can run around," says Erin.
From here, two sets of sliding doors open onto the deck and backyard area. "We have a little stock tank pool in the backyard that we added last summer. It's really enhanced the quality of our summer play during the oh-so-hot Charleston summer months!"
We chatted with Erin to find out more about this soulful fixer-upper—and how the revamped space has improved the family's work and life.
Why did you decide on a renovation project rather moving into a brand-new house?
The first home we bought as a newly married couple with a baby on the way was beautiful and quaint, and already renovated. I think this was the perfect first home for us because we really learned a lot about owning property and started to develop a love for interiors and small renovation projects. When we started adding to our family and began to work from home more, we realized we needed more space. We knew that we had to find something with the perfect layout for our lifestyle, and we wanted a space that we could completely recreate to reflect our own personal style.
What were the biggest changes you made to the property?
So far, knocking down the wall from the kitchen into the rest of the home and renovating that space has been the biggest structural alteration. It completely shifted the heart of the home and has changed everything for the better.
What’s your favorite nook?
There is a small, ’80s-style wet bar area just off the family room where we currently keep our record player and records. We haven't remodeled it quite yet—we are waiting until we know exactly what we want to do here! But this space is so quirky, fun, and has so much character—some of of the things I love about living in an older home!
What were some of the biggest challenges with this fixer-upper?
Cost! With a space this large—and with so much that needs to be done—it's hard not to get completely overwhelmed. What helped reduce the panic around costs for us was having patience, and doing the work as we are able to, bit by bit. This made our choices more intentional, and we would get really excited when the time came to transform a new area.
How would you describe the interior look and style of your home?
We both have a passion for midcentury modern design, and that's where most of our choices stem from, but the house also has a touch of the bohemian. We love color and textiles and want the home to feel lived in and comfortable, not only for us, but for our children too.
Did you furnish the spaces with your own fiber art?
Sometimes when I finish larger textiles, I hang them in our home for a short time before shipping them off. I usually hang the large pieces above our bed or sofas. But I do not keep any of my own work permanently displayed in our home.
Are there any DIY elements in your home?
The stock tank pool was a huge DIY project. Creighton painted my studio floors with garage paint, and we did most of the interior painting ourselves. All the styling and interior design was done by the both of us too.
Do you and Creighton feel more creative living here?
Absolutely! Making a space that is inspiring and a true reflection of who we are as a family is very important, because this is where we spend the majority of our time. We work throughout the day and raise our family here. Each room serves a purpose and feels special, yet the design language is cohesive and uniquely ours. For me, it's important that my studio feels separate from the rest of the home. That way, when I come to "work" each day I don't feel like I am still just lounging in the house. My studio is intentionally my studio, and it feels like its own separate space. I have filled it with my favorite female artists, and bright, inspiring colors. The natural light that pours into this room all day really keeps me in the right head space to create. Creighton’s studio has more of a secluded, cozy feel that’s perfect for him to spend time in practicing and writing music. Because it’s isolated on the upper level, it’s also a great part of the house for him to make all of the noise that he needs to make!
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