Susanne Lichten Csongor, founder of SLC Interiors, Inc. in Hamilton, MA, has over twenty years of extensive experience in high-end residential design. She holds a Master of Science Degree in Interior Design from the University of Massachusetts and her extensive travels through Europe, Asia, and South America have provided immense inspiration that relishes in each of her unique and thoughtful designs. A masterful storyteller, Csongor’s portfolio of work includes a vast range of projects from a sprawling family compound on Nantucket, residences at The Trump Tower overlooking Central Park, and a Pied-a-Terre with sweeping views of Boston’s Public Garden.
This pre-civil war home has housed many over the years, including a woman who was the inspiration for a "Gone with the Wind" character. Lichten Csonger, the owner of SLC Interiors in Hamilton, Mass., explains how she took this historic building and created a charming family home while maintaining the original details. Read along as she shares her top designer tips for preserving a home with history.
1. What were you trying to accomplish with the design of this project?
This is a large, pre-Civil War Italianate Victorian house on the Charleston Registry of Historic Homes. The goal with this project was to create a warm and inviting space that could be shared with family and friends, but still maintain the historical integrity of the house. 2. Can you explain a little bit about the history of the house?
Parts of this home date back to the early 1800s, and it has had a rich history ever since. It survived the 1886 earthquake, has housed Charleston cultural societies, and at one point, was the home of the woman who inspired the character of Melanie in "Gone With the Wind." The scale of the façade and Italian Renaissance style create an eye-catching and impressive dwelling.
3. What was the inspiration for the project?
Despite this home being a new purchase, we wanted to create the feeling that it had been owned by the family for generations. The art and furnishings are period pieces, selected to look as though they had been passed down as family heirlooms.
The palette used is fairly neutral; the tones were influenced by the art that was purchased.
5. What element did you start with?
When we began work on this project, the house was completely empty. All of the art was bought at auction. The palette of the local landscape was very inspirational, and resulted in the use of many fresh greens, corals, and yellows as accent colors.
We began this process by selecting historically appropriate art, and followed this with upholstery and rugs. The fabrics and carpets were fairly neutral, with lots of sisals in pewter colors. One carpet in particular, an antique Tabriz (a high-quality woven Iranian rug), was notable for its muted tones of greiges, warm neutrals, and inky grays.
7. What is your favorite part of the project and why?
This residence exemplifies a regionally historic American home. The existing interior architecture in the building is superb. The plaster moldings in particular are very striking.
8. What are your tips for someone trying to recreate the look of this project?
Start with an old house that has some strong architectural features. Shop at flea markets for appealing art in gilded frames. Stay neutral on upholstery, but splurge on silk velvet for pillows.
9. What is your favorite designer trick?
Stay true to your original concept.
10. Finish the sentence: Every room needs _____.
A gilded frame.
11. What is your best piece of advice for someone who is redecorating their home?
Be aware of your budget. Choose pieces that are well designed and build on ideas as your budget allows.