Dwell: Q&A and Lowcountry Designs with Charlie Collins

One of the talented interior designers behind Kiawah River’s Spring House is Charlie Collins of Melrose Interior Design. Throughout her portfolio, Charlie delivers the highest level of beauty reflective of an environment’s spirit, and this is especially true for her Spring House designs. The liveliness and vibrant colors of Kiawah River’s landscapes inspired her creativity, which incorporates hand-selected pieces and custom finishes and fabrication to successfully design a welcoming space for all to enjoy.

We sat down with Charlie to discuss her background, inspiration and vision for the Spring House.

Tell us a little bit about your background in interior design?
After studying art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I earned a degree in interior design then moved to New York City where I joined the firm of classicist architect Peter Pennoyer heading up the interiors department. I transitioned to S.R. Gambrel, where our team was highly involved in architectural details of renovations and new construction. Over the years, I learned the importance of detail-driven design in a world of mass production. Eclectic and engaging clients offered travel for installations ranging from Aspen to New Zealand. With a wealth of knowledge and expertise from seven years in NYC, I transitioned to Palm Beach, where I met the talented Amanda Lindroth who hired me to manage the interiors for The Dunlin, Auberge Resorts Collection at Kiawah River opening in 2024.

My own firm, Melrose, which shares the name of my childhood home and pet golden retriever, keeps me engaged and inspired managing residential and commercial projects in Charleston, Virginia, New York, Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.

How would you describe your design style?
Classic, curated, livable and intriguing. I value complex paint schedules to make rooms dynamic as well as layering various materials of fabric, furnishings, lighting and artwork to create a story. I always incorporate vintage pieces not only for the excitement of the find but the diversity it can bring to new spaces. The interiors I create are designed thoughtfully to be beautiful and enjoyable. 

What were your inspirations for designing the Spring House interiors?
For the first floor, I wanted to see blues, greens and natural materials from the surroundings – but add a punch of pattern and color saturation. The design was led by the bold curtain fabric to generate a vibrant, playful vibe for families and friends to gather just off the pool. The custom bar is a focal point of the space and is a beautiful natural oak, caning and pop of blue countertop. Also inspired by Kiawah River’s natural landscape, the third floor incorporates textured grass cloth wallcovering and blue upholstery to echo the color palette of seagrass and the river. 

What types of materials are incorporated into this project and why did you choose them? 
I kept materials natural, textured, rich in color and durable. Selections are an intentional mix of vintage and new to feel collected. The first floor is an extension of the pool intended to be used for a cool place to eat and drink, so I created space for café dining, bar seating and lounge space. The third floor is used primarily for groups and meetings, so I placed several oak tables and a seating area of wicker furniture and upholstered ottoman to play games or relax. The pair of wicker urn pedestals of ferns are always a nice touch to any room.

What is your favorite design element of the Spring House interiors?
It is difficult to choose a single element because it is all about how selections work together to create the spirit of a place, but the Chippendale potted palms, oak and caned bar, vibrant paintings by local artists and book collections are some of my favorites. Truthfully, the custom backgammon table, which is currently backordered due to supply chain issues, will be an outstanding addition!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Art and travel are my greatest inspirations, so while I seek to capture the essence of the location in which I am designing, I always incorporate unique elements to add that touch of curiosity or whimsy.

You can follow Charlie on Instagram at @charliedukecollins