The Coburn Hutchinson House in Summerville is both a studio and home to designer Michelle Woolley Sauter, owner of One Coast Design, specializing in custom interior design. After purchasing the home at 125 E. Richardson Ave. in 2018, Michelle and her electrical engineer husband, Brian, began the renovation—top to bottom, inside and out.
The newly revitalized Coburn Hutchinson house, built in 1859, is the perfect medium for Michelle’s design sensibility, demonstrated in breezy verandas, sophisticated living spaces, and cozy nooks throughout the home. None of this is by chance, of course. When planning the renovation, Michelle and Brian paid particular attention to the home’s history and original structure.
“I went to the Town Hall here in Summerville, the hall of records in St. George, and the Charleston hall of records. I wanted to find out as much as I could about the house and the people who had lived here.” Michelle continues, “I was like a private investigator, digging the story out. I was bonding with this place.” Michelle and Brian then named the Coburn Hutchinson House after the first two families who lived in the house.
“We are just always drawn to something that has a story,” she says. “I wasn’t looking for a big project like this house, but when we saw it, the location was perfect. We love the walkability and being part of historic downtown Summerville.”
The Coburn Hutchinson house is a Charleston single house, an architectural style somewhat rare in Summerville, though plentiful in Charleston proper. It’s also a less common form of a single house, with three windows across the front instead of two. Michelle and Brian chose to stick to the home’s original footprint rather than knocking down walls and recreating the spaces. They repurposed original bricks, wood, and other materials in the house, keeping the renovations as green as they could.
“By making thoughtful restoration decisions that showcase unique craftsmanship details, we’ve maintained that cozy, hospitable, and welcoming environment,” says Michelle. “Design choices were driven by the eras the house has survived.”
As well as a designer, Michelle is a painter. Her artwork is displayed throughout her home and working studio. After earning a Fine Arts degree in college, she worked in art galleries. She began using her eye for color, texture, and scale to make informed design choices for yacht and residential interior design projects. She has also designed furniture, wallpaper, and artwork for Tommy Bahama International, Swarovski, and Walt Disney World International.
When helping someone create an aesthetic for their home, Michelle says it’s vital that the furnishings fit the life lived in the spaces and coordinate with the homes’ architecture.
“A home should reflect the people who live there, she says. “I love incorporating clients’ pieces that have a history—a story to tell.”
One Coast Design studio offers clients one-of-a-kind home furnishings, accessories, antiques, lighting, fabrics, flooring, tiles, wall coverings, original framed art pieces, and more. To learn more about the Coburn Hutchinson House and Michelle’s work as a designer, artist and consultant, see the One Coast Design website. It includes links to Michelle’s blog and popular Instagram and Facebook accounts.
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