If you’ve watched Outer Banks, one of Netflix’s latest and very talked about shows, you might strongly identify as a Pogue or a Kook, but regardless of your choice, I think we can all agree that Sarah Cameron’s family home is one we would like to live in. Lowndes Grove, a historic house located in Charleston, South Carolina, was built in 1786. House Beautiful spoke to production designer Daniel Novotny, set decorator Missy Ricker, set designer D. Tracy Smith, location scout Linda Lee, and the executive director of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group (Lowndes Grove is one of PPHG’s venues), Amber Coté, who told us everything that went into the design of the fictional Tanneyhill Plantation to create the perfect set while still preserving the history of Lowndes Grove. Although the real life home may not come with a map that leads to gold mysteriously tied to an historic shipwreck, it is still an impressive work of design.
Located on a 14 acre property complete with a waterfront view, Lowndes Grove is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently used for weddings, meetings, receptions, and celebrations. Because of the home’s use as an event space, set decorator Missy Ricker says, “we were always limited with the amount of time we had to 'dress' the sets and in what we could do to alter the space.”
The stunning Georgian-style home is surrounded by oak trees and overlooks the serene Ashley River. In the show Outer Banks, the home was once the residence of the fictional Denmark Tanney (possibly inspired by Denmark Vesey), a slave who discovered gold after a voyage on the (also fictional) Royal Merchant ship (likely influenced by the very real Merchant Royal ship), then used that gold to free himself and other enslaved people.
福彩便民中心开机号The selection of Lowndes Grove as the Cameron family home has been in the works since early last year, says production designer Dan Novotny. "In January 2019, Netflix invited me to an early scout of Charleston to see options for our key locations, including the Cameron family home, in a fictitious neighborhood called Tanneyhill," he says. "We needed the home to feel historically significant. We chose Lowndes Grove because it embodied that wealthy historic vibe. The mature maritime oak trees have that distinctive Southern charm."
Lowndes Grove has been a favorite of Lee’s for many years. "The director, Jonas Pate, said he wanted Tanneyhill ‘to be an older big plantation style house on the water, with at least two or three acres of land,'" she recalls. "In our story, it's been built in the 1700s, so it's like an old Charleston house, but it's okay if it’s been updated with modern amenities, like a pool or retrofitting certain aspects of it.’” Given this fitting description, Lee knew that “Lowndes Grove fit the bill, and Jonas Pate and Daniel Novotny, the production designer, loved it. Of course, they were shown other locations to give them choices, but Lowndes Grove was always the favorite."
"One of the key features we needed for the Cameron family home was that it felt like a home built in the late 1700s," Novotny adds. "We needed the home to be this age because our characters, the Pogues, find treasure maps leading them to buried gold near this historic plot of land. I think it’s interesting that we created a history of fictitious maps, then used them as treasure maps to find buried gold. When you consider all that goes into designing a fictitious geography with centuries of maps, tied to the Outer Banks story arch, it’s a really creative project.”
Early on in season one of Outer Banks, a hurricane occurs, so, set designer D. Tracy Smith informs us that “a lot of trees and other debris were brought in to display the hurricane destruction for the exterior." Lee adds that “a huge upturned tree root was created by the Greens and Construction departments.” Additionally, a glass tent had to be removed and later reinstalled, because it is usually “attached to the side of the house for events and weddings. This was done by the vendor, at great expense to the production,” says location scout Linda Lee. A North Carolina State Flag was also added to the exterior, given that Outer Banks takes place there.
As for the interiors, "we created all of our interiors for Tanneyhill Plantation (the Cameron’s residence) on location at Lowndes Grove," says Ricker. "The bones of the historic home are amazing, and we did, in some cases, keep the grand window treatments, palace rugs, and some beautiful marble-top sideboards in the foyer. We also kept all of the chandeliers and sconces, yet added our own mini silk shades to some of them.”
Given the fact that Lowndes Grove was built in 1786, restoration work is necessary in order to properly preserve the home. Coté informs us that “because [Lowndes Grove] grew to great disrepair and the parcel was in jeopardy of being subdivided, the Patrick family purchased it in 2007 and restored it to its grandeur as seen today. Extensive landscaping and an addition to a kitchen were also part of the estate’s revival. The interior includes museum caliber artwork and period antiques that were acquired specifically for the home. Glenn Keyes was the architect and Jim Rhodes was the contractor.”
Adhering to historic preservation guidelines was especially important during filming. Ricker says Novotny, “wanted to paint several of the rooms, but the historic restrictions on the property prevented us from doing so. So we embraced the original historic colors and developed our decor around them."
There were also a few logistical challenges with these guidelines: "We were limited by the fact that we could not drive any hooks or nails into the walls as they are plaster and would chip beyond quick repair," Ricker says. "For this challenge, we all brain-stormed and our production designer Dan came up with a system of thin, steel rods on bases painted to match the wall color that would butt up to the wall. This allowed us to hang our artwork and taxidermy on the rods without disturbing the finish of the walls."
Ricker also tells us what went into the decorating of each room. “For Ward Cameron’s study, Dan designed a handsome built-in bookcase, complete with a hidden door and safe! This was no small feat as the room we used for Ward’s study was on the second floor, accessed only by the main spiral staircase. So the bookcase was designed in sections to solve this part of the challenge. And, as you recall, we weren’t allowed to drive any nails into the walls, so this piece also had to be counterweighted and free-standing, while being substantial enough to support the weight of real books and have action on the secret door and safe!” Lee says that this “very large and heavy bookcase” — which contained the portrait of Denmark Tanney and a safe — “had to be installed and removed after each filming, along with all set dressing.”
福彩便民中心开机号The kitchen was built and dressed inside of the adjoining River House, a satellite building on the property usually used for receptions and smaller gatherings. "There is no furniture in this space, so our designer again came up with a plan to build it," recalls Ricker. "All of our cabinets, appliances, and island were built by our construction department and brought in and assembled in sections and fitted into the space. We then added our furniture, decor and counter-top dressing and a kitchen and dining space were born!" Other rooms that were dressed at Lowndes Grove include the bedrooms of Sarah Cameron, her little sister, Wheezie, and John B.
Jonas Pate, who is the director and one of the creators, writers, and executive producers of Outer Banks, “had some specific direction for us on the décor. He referenced Garden & Gun magazine for the traditional style of the American South. Within that he specifically requested regional taxidermy, classic Audubon Prints, and hydrangea flowers,” says Ricker.
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