Finding your dream home can sometimes take years – a fact we must all begrudgingly accept. Choosing the area or locale in which to search for such a home, however, is usually a much quicker task. This wasn’t the case for Johno Morisano and his wife, Carol A. Sawdye. The couple lived a much-coveted life for many years in Manhattan. Then by chance, during a road trip through the American South, they discovered where truly belonged. They passed through Savannah, Georgia, in 2010, and were instantly besotted with the historic port city. Savannah is littered with beautiful formal squares and has streets lined with grand old oak trees. The couple was so impressed that they quickly bought a property and started splitting their lives between Savannah and New York City.
Skip forward a few years and Johno was enjoying the limelight as Savannah’s restaurateur du jour, having opened the wildly successful and critically acclaimed ‘the Grey.’ The couple was enjoying life in Savannah but Carol, a devoted swimmer, yearned for a pool. Eventually, they stumbled across an 8,500-sq ft antebellum townhouse just a short hop from the famous Monterey Square, complete with a 40-ft lap pool. Johno and Carol moved in and contacted local designer Chuck Chewning. From the outside, you can admire the stucco-and-stone facade and airy Charleston-style porches. The home’s interior, however, was in dire straits. The color brown was ubiquitous – brown walls, brown moldings, and brown doors. Chewning’s assessment was frank, “It’s dreary and depressing, like the Munsters live here.” He insisted on whitewashing the whole interior to get a better feel for the place before he made any design decisions. He wanted to “see the architecture, the light and proportions” before he could start building.
After Chewning got to work, the results were remarkable. He decided to match his clients’ trendy New York vibe with modern Southern charm. This meant combining midcentury-modern pieces with gorgeous Continental antiques. He picked a bright, cheerful palette to bring out the best of Savannah’s warm light. Much of the art was locally commissioned, as Chewning took full advantage of Savannah’s burgeoning art scene.
In the dining room, the table is by Giorgetti, while the chairs are upholstered in a Jim Thompson fabric. The bespoke banquette is covered in a Dedar fabric. A genuine 19th-century French chandelier steals the show.
A short walk brings you through to the living room where you can easily imagine the happy couple relaxing on those hot afternoons. There is an enormous Vladimir Kagan sofa and two Warren Platner chairs in Rubelli fabric. My favorite piece has to be the custom Natasha Baradaran ottoman. The delicate powder blue window shades and walls work to keep the room as pleasant and breezy as possible in the stifling heat.
Upstairs in the master suite, the luxurious bedding and long curtains are made from Dedar fabric. The Magni chair is upholstered in Pierre Frey fabric, while the French chaise is an antique.
Chewning’s European-Southern American townhouse is truly a sight to behold. If these pictures inspire you, and you are looking to redesign your own villa or apartment, then visit our beautiful showroom at 37 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien or contact at [email protected]. Our Designers can help you achieve this beautiful look in your home.