It’s no secret that Instagram is an endless mine of design resources. In the case of a South Carolina homeowner, it was the tool that allowed her to connect with Maggie Griffin, whose work she had long admired. Her request was for help with the interiors of her newly purchased house. What followed was the proverbial match made in heaven as Maggie discovered she and the homeowner shared a similar design aesthetic and a love of color.
When Maggie first laid eyes on her client’s recently renovated 1940s cottage in Greenville, she was swept away by the charming structure. “I was so tickled with what the previous owners had done with the renovations,” she says. “They preserved the architectural integrity of the old cottage while updating its functionality for modern living.” The designer was also impressed by the purchases her client had already made. “She has such a great eye for decorating, but she didn’t have time for the scope of this project on her own.” A busy physician, the homeowner needed Maggie’s expertise in creating cheerful, layered rooms that would welcome her at the end of a hectic day.
Maggie’s first step was to address the mudroom/laundry space, which opens to the parking area and is what her client sees first when returning from work each day. She swathed the room in a subtle geometric print in red and added a comfortable built-in bench for setting down bags. “I call it the ‘plop-and-drop,’ ” says Maggie. She then created an equally welcoming front entry full of color confidence with a blue chinoiserie wallpaper.
Furniture throughout the house includes many pieces from the client’s childhood home, lending an organic, collected quality. Maggie showcased those items with plenty of color and pattern, but she also mixed in some contemporary elements. For example, while the antique armoire sits in the front parlor and feels very traditional, the designer paired it with an unexpected grouping of four club chairs around an ottoman for a more modern vibe, as well as to create a space for quiet relaxation or intimate gatherings.
Similarly, the dining room features an inherited table and chairs, but Maggie updated the space with pretty box-pleated slipcovers. “The space definitely feels feminine,” she says. Taking cues from the artwork, the designer added window treatments in blue and chairs covered in a buffalo check. For the table setting, she used daringly colorful Oriente Italiano china on grass cloth placemats, along with plenty of flowers. “Setting a table is one of my favorite things, and the flowers are the soul of it all,” says Maggie. “I chose coral roses, white ranunculus, purple hydrangeas, and blush garden roses.”
One area that did require more than just décor was the kitchen. “It was ho-hum,” Maggie says. “We replaced the countertops with quartz, changed the backsplash to subway tile, and painted the cabinets Knoxville Gray by Benjamin Moore. It’s moody but fresh.” Wicker barstools add natural texture to the space. In the keeping room off the kitchen, the designer chose a pair of sofas to accommodate a crowd.
For the main bedroom, Maggie created a special place customized for the client. “We enveloped it in restful color,” she says. The large space with built-in shelves, a fireplace, and a bay window is swathed in a pretty wallpaper of climbing vines. Maggie layered jute carpeting under an Oriental rug to cozy up the room and brought in a new bed that looks convincingly antique. “The bathroom also is very big, so we decided to make it feel more like a dressing room by adding a wing chair and covering the walls in grass cloth,” says the designer.
On the second floor, three guest rooms accommodate all configurations of visitors. Twin beds in the mossy green retreat under the eaves suit visiting nephews while a floral-accented double bed in a clean white room often welcomes a visiting parent. The king-sized bed in the third guest space offers comfort for a couple.
Like the rest of the house, each room is a little different with personal flavor, colorful accents, and refined finishing touches. And for this client, those are the things that make it feel like home.
Maggie Griffin shares her thoughts and theories on taking any space from boring to beautiful.
• Wallpaper in rooms with very little fabric, like bathrooms and powder rooms, adds personality, especially if you pull a bold color from the wallpaper for the cabinetry.
• I like adding wallpaper in utility rooms, such as a laundry room or mudroom. It’s unexpected and fun.
• Hanging wallpaper in a foyer provides a color punch when guests arrive and can set the tone for the rest of the house.
• To make a bedroom cozier, add wallpaper with a small print as the backdrop of the space. It provides a little whimsy, color, and pattern.
• Murals have made a comeback as of late, and I love using them. The dining room seems to be the most popular space, but many people are also using murals in bedrooms.
• I love hanging tonal wallpapers in primary bathrooms where serenity is key. Powder rooms, however, are the places to play up the drama and go bold.
• Grass cloth can add interesting dimension and texture to a space while also adding color. There are so many wonderful weaves now, many of which are hand-painted. They completely elevate an ordinary space into a high-end room.