The Charleston Coast From Our View...
With mortgage rates on the decline due to COVID-19, buyers are encouraged to take advantage and lock in today’s low rates while they still can. Although it is still uncertain how it will impact the real estate market long-term, it will be interesting to see if low mortgage rates are enough of an incentive for buyers to make an offer.
Closed Sales +4.4% | Median Sales Price +10.8% | Months Supply -29.3%
Market Statistics by Area
- Downtown Charleston
- Upper Charleston Peninsula
- Upper Mount Pleasant
- Lower Mount Pleasant
- Daniel Island
- Folly Beach
- Isle of Palms/Wild Dunes
- Sullivan’s Island
- Kiawah Island
- Seabrook Island
- James Island
- West Ashley
- Johns Island
- North Charleston
- Goose Creek
Located in the heart of Folly Beach, this home would make the perfect rental, primary residence, or a combination of both. Features include a metal roof, two gas tankless water heaters, two gas fireplaces, high end finishes and multiple decks perfect for lounging and entertaining. For more info, visit: bit.ly/207EArcticAve
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Charleston Coast Vacations
Booking direct always ensures you have the best choice of properties and dates while getting exceptional service from our team at Charleston Coast Vacations. When you’re ready to make vacation plans, visit CharlestonCoastVacations.com.
Spring Cleaning Checklist
Today is the first day of spring!
Have you started your Spring Cleaning Checklist yet?
New home or first home – it doesn’t matter. Decorating can be a challenge for us all, even the professionals. One technique I have appropriated in my nearly 20 years in real estate and construction is to find something you love and let it inspire you. I’m not sure if I learned it from a designer, architect, or a combination of perspectives, but it helps me refine my thinking when it comes to every design choice.
Perhaps you have a blouse with colors that speak to you. Maybe it’s a rug you found with a unique design that is the epitome of “your style.” In my current home, I took inspiration from a silk batik banner adorned with comical fish. Years ago, I admired it in a small art gallery on Martha’s Vineyard where I once lived. I have always been drawn to textile art and I loved the colors and the humor. My husband remembered that I liked it and bought it for me for Christmas.
When we moved to Charleston 14 years ago, I decided that banner had the perfect tropical vibe for my new home in the south and that it would be the inspiration for transforming my “stuff” from my New England saltbox to suit my contemporary home on Johns Island.
My new living room was cavernous with 18 foot ceilings and low light. I chose a shade of yellow from the fish body somewhere between Citrine and old gold for the living room, dining room, and hallways. It was warm and bright without adding “heat” as it is at the “cooler” end of the color wheel’s warmest tones.
All the wet areas – kitchen and bathrooms are the same turquoise on the lightest shade of the fish gills. Tropical and fun, the turquoise shade worked well with the cabinets in those rooms because they were all the same wood and they had an orange undertone. Bedrooms and my very bright Four Seasons room are a dark stone grey with a lot of blue from the darkest part of the fish. It’s cool and restful in rooms with lots of light or bright white plantation shutters.
My favorite fish have giant orangey-red kissy lips and I generously sprinkle oranges and reds around the house in accents. I chose wooden fish decorated with red and gold mirror tiles for the mantle in the gold living room and added a turquoise throw on the gold sofa. There’s a small red cabinet for the dog’s leash and toys next to the front door with a turquoise shell plate for keys and such. The area rugs are all in different patterns but in the same family of turquoise, orangey reds, and golds. Because I loved the tropical theme, I have also collected artwork with palm trees and sea life.
I did not go and buy all new things. The “beige-ish” sofa in the sunroom in bad need of recovering after 20 years came from Massachusetts but the beige color is accented with nubs of reds and blues that work fine with the grey walls. The rug that came with it, and would not work anywhere else in this house, remains with the sofa. The print of Vineyard Haven Harbor, classically New England, is not tropical, but I love it and it still feels coastal. I kept the down comforter covered in hydrangeas (I bought it in the 90’s and it was cute then) and have since recovered it with a grey and gold duvet.
When showing homes, clients frequently comment that the decorating is all over the place. Too many different colors and accents in different rooms that are not harmonious can make a house feel disjointed. One purple bedroom, one pink, one green and not in the same hue or intensity can make it hard to envision “your stuff” in the space. Over 11 years some things were retired and replaced, but having a concept helped me wade through the gazillions of choices and gives the house a certain continuity. Having an inspiration helps me focus on the choices, but it never prevents me from finding a treasure that deviates from the palette but gives me joy.
Literally, just off the beaten path on the way to Johns Island is my favorite newish furniture store – but don’t tell anybody. Once you see the unique and just plain fun items at the Old Charleston Trading Company, you’ll understand why I want to keep this between you and I. Their slogan is “Interesting Furniture for Interesting People.” The thing is, you have to want to find it. There are no permanent signs for this place, there are barriers in the road to prevent a left turn from Main Road, and even the street sign is missing. It’s downright hard to find on the Old Charleston Road that veers off Savannah Highway to the right as you approach the light at Bees Ferry and Rt 17. Coming from Charleston, it is literally behind the Walgreens at Main and Rt 17. But, if you like the idea of an out of the way place with items you won’t see in a big box store, this is a great destination.
It’s a quirky old building that tilts a bit and the loading dock has marvelous views of the marsh. Once inside, there is clearly a story to be told. The story is, that my friends Warren and Jim were facing a cancer diagnosis. As so many stories with cancer as the catalyst someone says something like this:
Jim: “Let’s not put things off.”
Warren: “You’re right. Let’s buy a boat.”
Jim: “Let’s open a furniture store.”
Warren: “Are you nuts? I’m gonna retire.”
Warren shared this exchange with a friend over lunch who replied, “Well, if you think of it as an adventure, it will be easier.” It had always been Jim’s dream to do reclaimed wood and re-purposed pieces, and the next thing you know they found themselves driving around Johns Island looking for an old barn or warehouse for the business.
In September of 2015, a tornado struck Johns Island and their friend’s office building was badly damaged. The building had served several purposes since the 40s including a feed store and furniture store. The current incarnation was a suite of small offices. The tornado took the roof and the water poured in. Sheetrock ceilings and had collapsed throughout, and the carpet was just as bad. All the tenants had to leave and when Warren and Jim stopped by to lend some support and encouragement, they saw the exposed rafters and duct work, expansive space bereft of walls, and islands of the original wood flooring through the soggy mess. “This could work” Jim whispered, and they began a conversation about a single tenant situation that did not include replacing the sheet rock and fluorescent lighting.
It took some time, but by Memorial Day the stubborn glued-down carpet was removed to reveal the gorgeous floors. The roof was repaired and the exposed rafters were now home to ceiling fans with incandescent lights. Inventory had arrived and been displayed and they were ready, however the building department was not. They did not yet have their certificate of occupancy (CO) and needed more as-built drawings. July brought a temporary business license and temporary CO and at least they were in business.
In his full-time job as a customs broker, Jim had developed relationships over the years with three furniture store owners. He had worked with them on the imports and they encouraged him and gave him advice along the way. He also learned from those exporting to them, some of what he needed to know on the other side of the transaction as neither he nor Warren had ever been entrepreneurs.
They found the earliest sales hard to part with at first. “That’s my furniture – I don’t want to see a space there. I had it staged just perfectly.” They were surprised to feel such ownership but delighted to make people happy. They have had such a great response and interest in seeing the inventory expand that they have already extended the space.
The clientele is now building. People seem to love the pride of discovery and that’s only half the fun. I’ve been in several times and it’s always a social thing and customers interact about the unusual items they find. There is one couple that comes from Mt. Pleasant just about every weekend to see what’s new on their way to lunch at the Tomato Shed down the road. Dogs are welcome, kids too – and if Jim sees a husband itching to go, he offers him a beer to help him linger. “It’s more fun than I thought it would be. We laugh with people all day long and tell them don’t worry about making marks on this stuff – it’s not new. It’s already got a story and you are just adding to the story.” said Warren. On our first visit, my husband and I both suggested they could charge slightly higher prices for the quality of the merchandise. When we told Warren the prices were too low, he chuckled and declared “I never want to sell anything I couldn’t afford myself.”
That brings me to their unique business model. They had dinner with those three furniture store owners who have coached them along the way back in April. They were all in Highpoint, NC for the accessories show and talked about the business. Jim and Warren talked about how they don’t pay commissions to their staff, they all make the same hourly rate and it’s a living wage. There’s no one to “close” a sale and if they are working through lunch or dinner the company brings it in and pays. They eat together like a family. They are overly accommodating to their customers, keeping the prices low, stopping by to deliver a piece on the way home and cheerfully replacing the mercury glass light fixture that broke when I lifted it from the box, I swear, with no hesitation. One store owner told them “your business model is horrible. You are never going to make money that way.”
That’s precisely why we need to keep this our little secret. After all, they have already expanded once to meet demand. How are interesting people like you and I going to find our treasures if everyone in town learns about this? Ssssshhhhh.