Modern Compromise
Southern Living|January 2017

Charleston architect Mary Mac Wilson transforms her circa-1890 Victorian into a home that flatters both its history and her love of contemporary design.

M.K. Quinlan

“THIS WAS EXACTLY NOT the type of house I was looking for,” Mary Mac Wilson says with a laugh. And so her unexpected and exhilarating dream home reno began. Though Auburn University- and Parsons School of Design-trained architect Wilson admits that Charleston, South Carolina’s historic architecture is well worth the fanfare it receives, she considers herself a modernist at heart and wasn’t sure how she would reconcile her love of clean lines with her equal affection for downtown Charleston. “I love that contemporary architecture responds to the way we live now with technology and a more casual approach to living,” she says. “But we knew we wanted to be a part of the liveliness of the city’s historic neighborhoods.”

One afternoon—after a Sunday brunch at The Macintosh— she and her husband, Cooper (an attorney), stumbled upon a circa-1890 Eastlake Victorian home for sale on Spring Street in the up-and coming Cannonborough- Elliotborough neighborhood. A beaten-down rental with chain-link fences, the home had a brightly colored pink and-green exterior with decorative—and dilapidated— gingerbread detailing all over it. But after touring the place, she saw its potential to showcase the best of the old alongside modern additions.

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