Charleston and Middleton Plantation

SieMatic held its annual sales meeting in Charleston SC this past weekend.  Readers may recall my Kitchen & Bath Business Magazine award-winning showroom design for SieMatic Charleston (read about it here and here).  There was a great crowd attending with SieMatic dealers from all over the USA and Canada.  After presentations from noted kitchen designer Mick DeGiulio and interiors photographer Evan Joseph of Architectural Digest fame, we took in some nice weather at the plantation.

Middleton Oak near Charleston, SC

This is the Middleton Oak, a Quercus virginiana (Live oak) looking over the Ashley River.  This is the largest single-stem Live oak in the southern US states and although it has declined a bit in recent years, it is still impressive.  Live oaks tend to have copious amounts of Spanish moss draping their limbs and the Middleton oaks deliver:

Live Oaks with Spanish Moss

After a couple of days of dodgy weather, it was about 60 degrees during our tour – perfect for strolling the grounds before our afternoon meeting wrap-up.  The sun brought out a small alligator to the shores of a pond and a lovely peacock browsing some grass right near a pathway.  This peacock went his (her?) way and was not bothered by our presence in the slightest.  We wanted it to spread it’s tail and make a big show but he (she?) seemed content with us snapping away with our cameras.

Peacock at Middleton Plantation

The spring house bathed in early March morning sun.

Spring Pond at Middleton


On the second floor of the spring house is a tiny chapel.  The stark white interior was a wonderfully restful little space.

Middleton Chapel Detail

Part of our group at the highest point of the plantation, looking out over the Ashley River.

Middleton Plantation

My friends Beverly and Keith Binns (of premier kitchen and bath studio Binns in Toronto, Ontario), posing in front of the main plantation house.  Note the Flemish design of the house; Henry Middleton toured Europe with his new bride and came back with fresh inspiration for his new home.

Beverly and Keith Binns at Middleton Plantation

Another massive Live oak, this one a “twin”, as opposed to a single-stem specimen.

Live Oak at Middleton

Notice the sandy soil.  We wondered if this was so bare due to the shade of the tree, or something in the soil.  With the moss and leaves covering the ground and changing the ph, maybe natural ground cover just can’t get a good start in this soil.

During another break in the conference, I took a quick walk down King Street in the center of town and went through the campus of Charleston College looking for more nice old trees and buildings.  Some scenes from the campus grounds:

Charleston College Building

A lovely old gatehouse at the bottom of the old quad:

Gatehouse at Charleston College

It was very quiet, so I think it was spring break.  Here is an unusual white-painted wood structure with great classical detail on the edge of campus.

White Charleston Building

I love the subtle contrast between bright white trim and the dove-colored siding.  This last shot is the head house at the ancient market square.  I ventured down the road a bit just to re-visit this building.  The coloring is very interesting to me, being used to red brick and white trim Federal buildings of Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the Beaux Arts marble and limestone of Washington and New York.

Market Building Facade

It is always great to attend these events and see dear old friends and catch new design inspiration.  I will most certainly be back to Charleston, since I have business here once a year or so.  Good thing, as I was reminded of another plantation called Drayton Hall, which is not far from the city.  I’ll have to make time to get back for that one, and a more comprehensive tour of the Charleston Singles and other unique structures of the enchanting old city.

SieMatic New York – Beaux Arts Event

Last night the SieMatic New York showroom had an open house, in conjunction with Architectural Digest magazine.  The event was to commemorate the debut of SieMatic’s Beaux Arts .02 in North America.  Since I designed the layout of the NY showroom for SieMatic, I went up for the event.

SieMatic Beaux Arts in New York

I arrived early for some last-minute accessorizing.  This is the view of the Beaux Arts display upon entering the showroom.  The tall cabinets to the right are in a dark walnut gloss veneer and a polished SS glass frame.  The island is Sterling Grey lacquer with walnut shelves at left and right.  The cooking wall at back is Sterling Grey glass at left and sliding Bianco River stone panels with walnut shelves behind… whew.  There are a lot of finishes, but I think the display has a cohesive look due to it’s balance and proportion.  The series was designed by Mick deGiulio, who was present for the opening.

Beaux Arts New York Display

This elevation shows the Sterling Grey pullout base cabinets with polished SS glass frame cabinets above.  There is no crown molding or base molding, but I would still consider this kitchen to sway more towards a “traditional” look due to it’s framed panel cabinet fronts.  Chicago designer Mick deGiulio’s eclectic but clean design is known throughout America; Mr. deGiulio advised me on how to get the details just right for this display.  Here is deGiulio talking about the design later in the evening.

Designer Mick deGiulio at SieMatic New York

Here is view of the main showroom space, before the revelers arrived.  I have designed displays for this SieMatic showroom a few times over the past 15 years; we finally have a cohesive feel to the entire space, now that we have updated the everything less one small display at the back.  The local manager and installer did a wonderful job of bringing it all together – the craftsmanship was exemplary.

SieMatic New York - S2 Display

The event seemed to be a success and it was good to see all my colleagues and meet some area architects and designers.  After the event I got a genuine Neopolitan-NY margherita pizza and boarded Amtrak for the ride back home.  I need to get back to NYC much more often.