How This Designer Pulled Off an Orange and Purple Color Scheme

The palette of this 165-year-old Charleston, South Carolina, home is a study in extremes.

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Annie Schlechter

Whatever you do, don’t call the curtains you see at right “orange.”Cantaloupe? Maybe. Creamsicle? Getting warmer. “I cannot take credit for the selection of the palette,” says designer Matthew Bees of the presiding hue in his clients’ double drawing rooms. “The ever-​ creative wife asks that I call the color scheme ‘kumquat and aubergine.’ ”

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Annie Schlechter

OK! So kumquat, as it turns out, is the homeowners’ favorite color. “I always felt that orange was a no-no,” Bees says. “It was simply not in my color wheel. However, I was up for the challenge.” For the most part, he kept the color on the curtains, pillows, and other upholstery in the home’s more formal spaces. “I was mindful of not wanting to overpower any visitors,” he says. But in the office, all rules went out the window. “We went full in and drenched the entire room in a custom blend that I call ‘pumpkin pie.’ ” The clients are a family of four who moved from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina, about seven years ago. They hired Bees, barely 30 years old at the time, and let him run wild with their new home. “They let me know up front that this was to be a fun house, and that nothing should be so serious or precious that it couldn’t be enjoyed,” he says. “The wife is one of the most stylish people I have ever met, and the husband is also very dandy. I knew from the get-go that I had a great starting point.”



The home is a “definition Charleston single,” as Bees puts it, meaning a narrow structure with the short side facing the street and a covered porch along the long side. This one is an 1850s Greek Revival with plenty of architectural quirks. “There is not a level floor or a straight wall in the house,” he says. “Some of the doors lean so much, I dubbed them Beetlejuice doors.”

Vivid color and pattern are employed throughout, and objects are grouped in multiples, with artworks hung all the way up to the ceiling. “The wife and I had a wonderful time amassing art for the home,” Bees says. “We would giddily text one another when we found something.”

The project took six years to complete, and not one inch was left untouched by Bees (even the ceilings!). “Minimalistic and undecorated are not words I will ever use. I was recently referred to as a maximalist. I gasped!” Bees says. “But I just believe in good design and pretty rooms.”

Producer: Doretta Sperduto



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