Marion Coleman has fond memories of visiting her great grandparents in the neighborhood just off Devine Street, where her family owned the property as far back as three generations. Her husband, Creighton, grew up in Winnsboro, South Carolina. He built a law practice and served as a member of both the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina State Senate.
Marion and Creighton built their life with their three children in Winnsboro, where they lived for 25 years in a historic home built in 1876. In 2018, they made the decision to move to Columbia and build on Marion’s family property, next door to her father.
“My cousins and I played in this yard,” she says, “and it is very special to me to be next door to my father. In 1921, my great-grandparents built their house on Heathwood Circle, and I realized that we moved into our house exactly 100 years later.”
To say she had been planning for this in the back of her mind is a bit of an understatement. In 2008, Marion had a copy of Southern Accents that featured a house plan she greatly admired. She tucked the magazine away for a rainy day in the bottom of her closet, and now it was time to pull it out. “I kept the magazine all these years, and when we decided to build, I took the photos to our architect,” she says.
Working with James and Scott Elliott with Elliott Builders, they began construction in October 2019, and the Colemans moved into their new home in March 2021. The house, designed by Charleston architect Mark Maresca, encompasses 4,500 square feet and allows for views from the front door through the foyer and family room to the kitchen at the rear of the home. Rather than construct the house of brick as shown in the original plan, Marion chose a stucco finish for a cleaner, simpler look. The large windows allow sunlight to stream through, filling the rooms with natural light.
“We loved so many things about our previous house — the 12-foot ceilings, the large windows, things that are characteristic of historic homes,” Marion says. “Having grown up in Columbia, I wanted this house to resemble the homes in the neighborhood.”
What truly sets the Colemans’ home apart is how they incorporated their love of their previous home and the history of Winnsboro into the new construction. Creighton took the wrought iron fence from the home of his great uncle for whom he is named and had the fence restored, then installed at their new house.
Winnsboro is an area renowned for its famous blue granite, known simply as Winnsboro Blue. Mined in Fairfield County beginning around 1883 for nearly 100 years, the granite gets its famous blue hue from a combination of mica, feldspar, and quartz. According to South Carolina Encyclopedia, Winnsboro blue granite was “used in such structures as New York City’s Flat-Iron Building, the old Charleston Post Office, and the great dry dock of the Charleston Naval Shipyard. The Fairfield granites won a medal and diploma at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.” The granite was also used in the construction of the South Carolina Statehouse.
Marion and Creighton used several examples of blue granite into their home including the columns flanking the entry gate to their yard. The columns were originally part of the famed Wolfe House, which was the house where Bernard Baruch was born. He was an adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II.
Arches are a significant design element throughout the house. Working with interior designers Dial and Clif Kitchens, Marion incorporated arches on the exterior of the house at the front and on the loggia, dressing them with wrought iron detail. Marion relied on Archie Owens of Owens Welding to create the unique wrought iron pieces, including the elegant interior staircase, using a design similar to one Marion had admired.
She also brought in millstones to incorporate into the outside decor of the house, placing one next to the front entrance beneath the arched openings. Another millstone that came from the former Robert E. Lee Hotel in Lexington, Virginia, provides a unique touch installed into the pavers of the driveway.
Marion, who studied interior design as a college student, has a great appreciation for traditional style but also likes to blend contemporary pieces into her decor. “I have always been a fan of Amelia Handegan, an interior designer based in Charleston,” Marion says. Amelia Handegan is known for blending the old with the new to change the attitude of a room by mixing antiques with some contemporary pieces. The living room is a perfect example of blending traditional with contemporary, with its gilded end table and carved armchairs set off by a modern gold framed glass top coffee table. Marion also incorporated a secretary, which was the first piece of furniture she and Creighton purchased together after they were married.
The foyer contains a large antique setee and an entrance hall table that are a testament to Marion’s love of French provincial style. “This table originally had a crackled top,” she says. “I asked Georgia Lake to ‘patina’ the entire piece so that it would have a more formal and sophisticated appearance.”
The dining room, the largest room in the house, features furnishings Marion had in the house in Winnsboro, including a sideboard that belonged to Marion’s grandmother topped with her silver tea service. Two corner cupboards, one that belonged to Creighton’s mother, display other collectibles. “In keeping with family tradition, we have always had Thanksgiving with my family,” Marion says. “That is one of our special times to be together, so the dining room had to be able to hold everyone.”
Marion is doing her part to revive the use of wallpaper in interior design. The dining room, butler’s pantry, and powder room feature papered walls in varying floral patterns of muted creams and golds.
The family room is the perfect spot to relax at the end of the day with its leather chairs and sofa covered in neutral earth tones. The fireplace mantel and surround, constructed of old heart pine and finished in a darker tone, provides a nice contrast to the room. The rug is a cherished family heirloom. “The rug belonged to my great Aunt ‘Tulu’ Walker. I have always loved it,” she says.
Marion uses her rugs as a color palette base to drive the design of a room. She is an admirer of Oushak rugs, also known as “Usak,” a type of oriental rug dating as far back as the Ottoman Empire that is prized for its silky wool texture. Oushak rugs come in a wide variety of colors, ranging from reddish browns and cinnamons to creams, ivory, blue, and gray. Repeating patterns of medallions, stars, vines, and florals are typical characteristics of Oushak rugs.
With a love of chandeliers, Marion repurposed some antique crystal chandeliers from their former home along with newer contemporary styles. She avoided harsh overhead lighting in the kitchen by adding single arm fixtures above each window, allowing them to work together to brighten the space.
Another unique aspect to the house is the fact that no doors separate the main rooms of the downstairs area. “I used the arched doorways to separate the rooms,” she says, “but I wanted the house to remain spacious and to flow well.”
Marion does not cook quite as much as she once did now that they live near an abundance of restaurants, but the kitchen is well equipped so that she can whip up a meal any time, with spacious counters and an island topped with honed marble. “I cooked for 25 plus years,” she says with a laugh, “so it is nice to be able to zip over to a restaurant downtown, but I still enjoy cooking for a crowd, or for my dad, who lives next door and is a welcomed regular.”
A sunroom located off the kitchen is where she can take a moment to relax and unwind. French doors from the sunroom lead onto the loggia with its large Winnsboro blue granite fireplace.
The Colemans have a wonderful collection of art pieces that have been in their family for many years and hold great meaning to them, such as the framed freshwater fish prints that belonged to Creighton’s mother, a portrait of John Buchanan over the family room fireplace, and oil paintings of their three children and Marion’s mother and grandmother. One of their favorite pieces is a framed map of Fairfield County dating back to 1820, as well as an enlarged black and white family photo of Creighton’s family on their farm that once hung over the sofa in Creighton’s childhood home. “As we built the house, I made sure I knew where each piece of artwork would hang,” she says.
Marion also kept the wall colors in a neutral palette of linen white and bone white throughout the house. This allowed her to use any color placement that she wanted and to blend with her displays of art and other collections.
Even their dog has a special relevance to the home. “Creighton had to have a new dog to go with the new house,” she says, “so he got Blue, a Labrador retriever, who is named in recognition of Winnsboro blue granite. Blue even has his own personal bathtub/shower built into the laundry room.”
Marion is grateful for the opportunity to return to the neighborhood where she grew up. “Building this house was an unexpected dream come true for me and my family,” Marion says. “It’s filled with all wonderful memories.”