An Outdoorsy, Artsy Family's Sunny Charleston Home

A family that loves art, boating and travel remade this bachelor pad into a bright, cheerful home for four.

October 29, 2019

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Family Fun in Charleston

Bright Williamson bought this Charleston home in 1999 before he married his wife Allison, a gallerist who owns the Charleston Artist Collective. Though they initially planned to sell it, the couple decided to instead fix it up to accommodate their two sons and a collection of art, family heirlooms and treasures from their world travels. The result is a bright, open-plan space with his-and-her living rooms and a convenient location close to the water for this beach- and boating-loving family.

Creative Inspiration

The foyer of the Williamson home prominently features a bottlecap portrait of beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo by artist Molly B. Right. Allison says of her two sons, Ben and Henry, "They've been around art since they were babies." When she was first beginning her career as a gallerist "there would always be art stacked around on tables." She admits "one time a soccer cleat went through a painting."

Neutral Meets Eclectic

The Williamsons keep foundational pieces like sofas, beds and walls white and neutral so they can pile on their brighter, more texture-driven collections of linens, pillows, sculptural works from Africa, mementos from travel and both traditional and contemporary artwork.

Global Mix

Charleston Artist Collective owner Allison Williamson helms both online and brick and mortar galleries dedicated to emerging artists, so her home is filled with art. She recommends not feeling married to artworks in a particular location as a design strategy. "Don't be afraid to move art around," recommends Allison of vignettes like this collection of colorful works in her living room. "I constantly rotate things, giving it a fresh new look."

Pillow Talk

The wood and wicker West Indian caned sofa has been upholstered with fabric Allison found on a girls' trip to Morocco, where she also sourced the rug. The eclectic mix of pillows come courtesy of Anthropologie and Serena & Lily.

Sentimental Objects

The Williamson home is filled with meaningful objects, art and photographs. Here a living room bookshelf becomes a kind of three-dimensional scrapbook of the family's interests and collections through the years.

Bright Boy

A sculpture of Bright Williamson done when he was a boy creates a charming, wistful juxtaposition with a beach scene painting (the entire family spends lots of quality time on the water) in this bookshelf vignette.

Fine Art Dining

A statement chandelier and striking abstract painting above the fireplace lend style and a point of view to the room but also help define the dining room space in the open-plan living/dining area of the Williamson home.

Meaningful Souvenir

From the French "to remember," souvenirs of artwork are a wonderful way to remember a trip and take the spirit of a place home with you. Allison bought the painting of jazz musicians on a trip to New Orleans. The painting was so fresh, the paint was still wet so Allison carried it onto the plane in her lap. Her only regret is that she didn't buy more from the artist.

The Influence of Travel

An extended four-week stay in Costa Rica really taught the Williamsons the value of living with less. "I tried to purge and get rid of stuff when people have so little in Costa Rica," says Allison of the influence her family's travels there had on their lifestyle. Instead of needless accumulation, the Williamsons treasure family heirlooms, art and objects that bring meaning and beauty to their lives.

Favorite Room

It's dueling living rooms in the Williamson home, with Bright and Allison each laying claim to their own white sofa-anchored space. Their two living rooms (Bright's living room is shown here) are kitty-corner from each other.

A Modern Princess

Grace Kelly (Princess Grace) gets a modern treatment in this fun, punchy piece in the Williamson living room.

Opening Things Up

Raising ceilings in this older ranch-style home and opening up the space by removing walls and providing sightlines through the fireplace connects the dining and living areas and gives the Williamson home a fresh, modern feel.

Healthy Greens

Gorgeous celadon-tinted cabinets bring personality to this open-plan kitchen.

Vintage Touches

Small details in the Williamson kitchen lend personality and color to the space courtesy of vintage cookware and art and a charming owl cookie jar.

Ready for Company

Additional storage and staging space in the pantry/wet bar area between the living room and kitchen expands the family's entertaining options.

Artwork of Every Stripe

The Williamsons have incorporated artwork into every nook and cranny of their home including this wet bar/pantry/staging area where even their sons' artwork is prominently featured.

Functional Flair

The Williamsons' laundry room off of the kitchen is a study in functional chic and also boasts a home office tucked away in the corner for maximum multitasking while the laundry runs.

Bright and White Bedroom

Allison notes that the bedrooms in her family's 2,400-square-foot home are relatively modest. "The beauty of the space is its little bedrooms and big living space," so that family and friends are encouraged to gather in the public areas of the home. A neutral palette of white in the master bedroom makes the perfect backdrop for a large Russian oil painting and colorful upholstered headboard. Chief, the family's beloved Australian labradoodle, commands center stage on the bed.

Playing the Field

Bright's mother has served on the board of Charleston's annual Spoleto festival and as a result, says Allison, "he was brought up in a house that was filled with art." The Williamsons like to buy artwork when they travel and, of course, support the artists at Charleston Artist Collective by displaying their art in the Williamson home. Their collection is a combination of traditional, representational work and more abstract pieces though joyous color is a bridge that connects much of the work.

Every Art Genre

From abstract work to landscapes to portraits, the Williamsons definitely play the field when it comes to the kind of art they display in their home. Here, a graphic abstract painting with juicy colors plays nicely with the white console and lamp in the Williamsons' master bedroom.

Ben's Space

Ben's bedroom proves that style and a child's interests can coalesce. Here, the same global patterns found in the rest of the home bring sophistication to this space when used in curtains, a throw and rug that can be easily swapped out when it's time for a design refresh.

Henry's Digs

An easy way to instill a love of art into your children's lives? Make it personal. Frame their artwork for display in their room and mix it in with pieces from favorite artists.

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