Celebrity Home

05 Mar 2024

Actress Melanie Paxson’s eclectic Daniel Island home

By Emily Shiffer

Actress Melanie Paxson has found her “forever home” in Charleston. Paxson, her husband, Andy, and their two children Miller and Winifred moved to Charleston at the beginning of the pandemic in June of 2020 after over 20 years of living in Los Angeles where she was based as an actor.

“You flirt with the idea of moving as an actor and settling into this fantasy of a ‘white picket fence’ lifestyle,” Paxson says.

After her close friends decided to move to Charleston in January 2020, Paxson became intrigued with the idea of her family making a similar move.

“I had never visited Charleston,” says Paxson, who started to look at houses online. When a home came on the market right across the street from their dear friends off Clements Ferry Road, Paxson and her husband decided to put an offer on it, sight-unseen.

“It was divine intervention,” says Paxson. “It was a huge move across the country.”

After settling in and getting to know Charleston better, Paxson fell in love with Daniel Island and began house hunting there. They sold their starter Charleston home and set their sights on renovating their new “forever” home on the island. Described by Sam A Ritan Home Improvement’s Rob Roca as a “builder grade home from the early 2000s,” Paxson had a blank slate to create with. Sam A Ritan, based in Mt. Pleasant, was instrumental in the home improvement and finish work.

The family lived in an apartment for nearly 10 months as renovations took place, and officially moved into their forever home in September 2023.

The first space Paxson started renovating was the kitchen, which was directly inspired by a New York City-based designer she followed on Instagram named Athena Calderone.

“Her kitchen has an old 1900s turn-of-the-century New York City-vibe, which you see in downtown Charleston—the tiles, the marble, the beautiful floors, the craftsmanship,” says Paxson. 

To hone in the aesthetic, Paxson worked with Unique Kitchens and Baths out of Maryland. “I wanted the kitchen to be black (like we had in Los Angeles). I love black—it reminds me of England, the high-gloss black cars.”

Hanging above her stovetop in the kitchen is a pink umbrella framed in an acrylic shadow box that she received as an end-of-shoot gift from the director John Lee Hancock of the movie she starred in, Saving Mr. Banks.

Paxson implemented other marble and tile touches throughout the home, working with Palmetto Flooring, Encore Stone and Buckhannon Tile + Design to perfect details in bathrooms and her laundry room, which features black and white matte marble floors. 

From there, she turned to Pinterest to help her come into her remodel with a clear vision.

“Pinterest can really help a girl out. I started pinning a ton of stuff,” says Paxson, who credits the algorithm for understanding exactly what she was looking to capture. 

“Our home is not coastal, but it definitely feels like it could fit in downtown Charleston,” says Paxson. 

Paxson took cues from her kitchen’s design to inspire more choices for the home’s open concept lower floor, starting with the powder room.

“I wanted it to feel classic, so we used black and white marble in a checkerboard pattern,” says Paxson.

Rich colors, textured textiles and wallpaper heavily influenced Paxson’s ideas for her family’s new home, a vast difference from her lighter and breezier Los Angeles abode. 

One wallpaper she fell in love with was Gucci’s Heron Print wallpaper in green.  

“It feels very Southern–I love birds, I love florals. A lot of the patterns I'm using in the house feel very Charleston to me,” says Paxson.

It was House of Hackney’s Hollyhocks wallpaper in Autumn that helped thread the colorway of Paxson home. (She placed it in the water closet in the main bedroom, as well as on the ceiling in her closet.)

“I used a swatch to inform all the colors of our couches, curtains and shades in the dining and living room. It’s so joyful and delightful,” says Paxson. “I bring the swatch with me everywhere.”

Vintage and antique touches are peppered throughout the home. Her dining room table is vintage mid-century, which she sourced from Elizabeth Stuart. Paxson also did her own hunting with her incredible agent Kristin Abbate and buying on Etsy, where she found multiple mid-century modern pieces for her living room that “thrill me,” she said–including Modernica Fiberglass Shell chairs, Ingmar Relling’s Siesta chairs and another mid-century coffee table that she describes as “simple and clean.” 

“I love simple lines. I don’t want everything to feel new. I want things to feel like they’ve been here for a while, even though they haven’t,” she says. “I definitely like form, but function is very important to me. Things have to be functional.”

With the help of local furniture and décor store Celadon, her vision came to life with custom fabric for two large couches in the living room that balance out the other pieces. But maintaining open space was crucial in her design.

“I know I look like a maximalist, but if I don’t love it or use it, I don’t want it. I consider myself the most maximal minimalist,” says Paxson.

One word to describe her design aesthetic: eclectic. “I’m pulling in mid-century modern, traditional and more ornate pieces. I’m hoping it’s eclectic. I love embracing it all,” she says.

The gallery wall that sits between the living room and kitchen is the area Paxson is most proud of in her home, and the space that means the most to her. 

“I love art. A lot of our art are pieces we picked up along the way that aren’t necessarily expensive, but they mean a lot to us,” says Paxson, including a pastel chalk silhouette of her mother that was done in 1966.

One artist Paxson discovered after moving to Charleston was Whitney Stoddard.

“I’m in love with her artwork. It was a big inspiration for our living room and gallery wall,” she says. Other artists found on her wall include Ron Giusti and Sally King Benedict.

The artwork climbs up towards the room’s 20-foot ceilings, and is surrounded by lights from Visual Comfort (who did the lighting throughout the entire house), Paxson adds that “the lights look like art.” 

Gallery walls are a feature Paxson has had in every home she’s shared with her husband Andy, who helps her curate the pieces.

“We don’t map it out. We just start, and it grows authentically,” she says. 

Custom built cabinets done by Sam A Ritan Home Improvement helped expand all the space throughout Paxson’s home, including a play area upstairs for her children. 

“Melanie’s house had numerous unique spaces and alcoves,” says Roca. “We were able to maximize underutilized space with creative and innovative solutions.”

The house also features a home office that Paxson painted in a high gloss olive green hue called Sap by Farrow & Ball. Art by her husband Andy’s father proudly hangs there, symbolizing the importance of art and family to the Paxsons.

One space that drew her to choosing the Daniel Island home is the FROG–the full room over garage–that Paxson renovated specifically as a suite with a kitchenette for her parents to stay in for extended stays in Charleston.

“We never want to move,” says Paxson. “This feels like home.”

 

Resources

Lighting- Visual Comfort (downtown)

Tile- Buchannon Tile (Mount Pleasant)

Flooring- Palmetto Flooring (Charleston)

Counter Tops- Encore Stone (Charleston)

Kitchen & Master Bath - Unique Kitchen and Bath 

Interiors- Celadon

Finished and custom cabinets - Sam A Ritan Home Improvement (Mt. Pleasant)

Stone fabricators and installers - MVP Granite (Charleston)

Hardware - Foxworth Decorative Hardware (Mt Pleasant)

Fixtures - Moluf’s Supply Co. (Charleston)

Curtains - Island Shade Shoppe (Johns Island)

Material selections designer - Courtney Perillo Interiors

Interior decor consultant - Paige Interior Design

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