Design Deconstructed: The Studio
P3 Design Collective’s lounge concept for the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel celebrates its location with a low-country, high-brow vibe.
Forget wide-open spaces. For this renovation concept, P3 Design Collective scaled back on traditional southern grandeur to create a communal lounge with a decidedly private feel. The designers leveraged a millwork opening within the hotel’s reception area to fashion an intimate gathering spot that serves as a pass-through between the lobby and meeting area.
“It was a challenge to design a space that could stand alone as an island of calm between these two busy, activity-engaging areas,” says Paula Benesch, partner at P3 Design Collective and the lead designer on the project.
To bring their low-country, high-brow vision down to scale, P3's team decked out the space with a cool mix of contemporary furnishings, playful decor and bold colors.
“Inspired by the historical colors we discovered during our explorations of Charleston and the dark blues of its harbor and skyline at dusk, we felt the palette added an intimate, moody sexiness to the space,” notes Benesch.
The result is a refined-yet-approachable aesthetic that’s sophisticated without taking style too seriously.
Here's a breakdown of the elements within the space:
Lighten up: Spotlighting books by Charleston natives—as well as a few handmade art pieces—was a must in maintaining the hyper-local vibe. A narrow, dimmable LED strip illuminates the millwork bookcases and can be adjusted throughout the day to reflect the mood. Rich charcoal stain and a contrasting backdrop in high-gloss “haint blue” reference the city’s design roots, while diagonal shelving amps up the visual interest.
Go with the flow: A departure from the two-tone wood tile throughout the rest of the space, this custom area rug shows off an organic, fluid pattern in muted tones of gray, blue and lavender, as well as a combination of wool and silk yarns, for a sense of understated luxury.
Hot spot: A sleek, horizontal electric fireplace imbues a warm welcome and visually anchors the seating area. Benesch says the element activates the space while also reinforcing its intimate feel.
Top of mind: The statement-making cocktail table was one of the first pieces the design team selected for the space. “We felt it was the perfect piece to mix with the more traditional architectural details in the lobby,” recalls Benesch, noting the unit’s masculine lines.
Tie it together: Following suit with the hotel’s regional style, an art collage of vintage and locally made bow ties acts as a literal reference to the city’s fashion staple. Photos of famed actor Jimmy Stewart and a dapper French bulldog dress down the formal flair, while the rustic frames link with the low-country theme.
Stay in line: These sofas’ soft contours directly contrast with the bookcases' right angles. The designers used their backs as a canvas, incorporating rosewood veneer panels for a polished look. Textured boucle upholstery with a plush nubby feel adds residential-worthy comfort, while a snakeskin print on some of the throw pillows subtly nods to well-known local blacksmith, Philip Simmons.
Vent it out: These decorative panels conceal the property’s pre-existing lateral air vents. The designers wanted a feature that could be integrated into the new millwork, so they chose customizable metal mesh to complement the dark wood finish.