Charleston for the Weekend! Plus, Paint Colors!

You know how I said I was trying to get out more? Like trying to take regular breathers from the house and the rest of life to see the people I love and do stuff I maybe want to do?

I did it again! My dear old friend Chandler (you might remember blog posts about her apartment from forever ago!) and I planned this little weekend jaunt down to Charleston, SC back in April, and I have to say it was nice and motivating to have something like this to look forward to throughout the summer! Then it totally crept up and we were on our way. Crazy how that happens.

Charleston is SUCH a beautiful city. I visited with my family briefly about a year ago, so when Chandler suggested we go there I was super excited to go back. The city is just so amazingly historically intact—it’s a total fantasyland if you’re interested in old buildings and history.

The real impetus for the trip was to catch a live show of one of our favorite podcasts, My Favorite Murder! Where my murderinos at?! If you’re not familiar, I’ll try to explain it like the hosts, Karen and Georgia, do: it’s a true crime/comedy podcast, which is a complicated combo to negotiate yet they make it work. Each week, they individually pick a murder from history and then recap it for the other one, and that’s basically the whole thing. It never gets old. And there’s an endless supply of murder because people are monsters! Karen and Georgia’s voices have kept me company for literal hours and hours while I’ve plugged away on projects on the house and whatnot, so being in a room with them performing live was so weird and crazy—both the same and different than I expected. It was a lot of fun.

In any case, the podcast is super crazy popular and has a rad population of fans, so if it sounds interesting to you I’d HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend starting from the beginning so that you, too, can develop a close, personal, one-sided bond with these women as their goofy idea for a podcast becomes, like, an international sensation before your very ears. Otherwise you might just be very annoyed by it all.

OH ALSO REAL QUICK: because people simply cannot get enough murder and comedy in combination, getting tickets to one of these shows was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever been tasked with doing. I had to join a fan club to get pre-sale access to the tickets and even those sold out in about 6 seconds flat. Eek! Sometime before that, I figured out that my friend Lauren who runs the Historic Charleston Foundation is also a murderino, as is her friend Gray, so we all went together with the 4 tickets I was able to snag. So the show was on Friday, and then every Monday they post mini-episodes where they basically read off listener emails of their own murder-related or otherwise creepy/weird/macabre stories. And on this Monday’s episode, THEY READ LAUREN’S EMAIL! Which, by the way, was a really fascinating insight into how the Historic Charleston Foundation conducts research on the properties they own, plus some surprising finds from inside some very old walls. It’s Minisode #89, if you’re interested!

So that was cool.

Otherwise, we pretty much just walked around, ate, and tried to take in as much of Charleston’s absurd beauty as we could before heading home.

I MEAN, JUST LOOK AT THIS PLACE! It’s insane. I think due to a combination of early and comprehensive historic protections and a fairly mild climate, Charleston kind of reminds me of what a place like Kingston might look and feel like if it hadn’t fallen victim to terrible urban-renewal policies and the unmitigated trend of replacing windows, doors, and exterior cladding with plastics and metals. It’s really something.

So many original windows! So many working shutters! SIIIIGHHHHH.

Marble floors like this are all over the city.

I’m crying.

I love this house and this arborvitae situation.

We ate very well during our short trip, including brunch at this restaurant called 5Church on the morning we left! Such a great space. The food was awesome too.

There are several historic house museums right in downtown Charleston, including The Nathaniel Russel House and the Aiken-Rhett House which I toured last time, and the Calhoun Mansion which I toured this time! LOOK AT THAT VESTIBULE TILE! The Calhoun Mansion doesn’t allow photography but the other two (managed by the Historic Charleston Foundation) do.

ANYWAY. Knowing more or less what I was getting into, I tried to come to Charleston a little more prepared this time around than last by remembering to bring my Nix Mini sensor! I know I’ve mentioned this thing on Instagram but I can’t remember if we’ve discussed it here…it’s a little ping-pong-ball-sized device that can scan and match paint colors on the go! Out in the wild! It pairs with an app on your phone, which allows you to choose between a bunch of different paint brands and save and organize colors you’ve scanned into collections. It’s a little addictive! Because Charleston picks paint colors really, really well, I thought I’d scan great colors here and there as we walked and put together a palette for the city! Is that fun? Not fun? I thought it was fun. Maybe we’ll do it again someday. Maybe we’ll never do it again ever. Either way, if you’re looking to inject your color scheme with some southern style, here ya go! Do with it what you will!


About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 9.26.18
    Gregg said:

    Murderino here. Loved Minisode 89. Did Georgia and Karen take a tour with your friend?

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      No, unfortunately! I think the reality is that they’re in town so briefly and have their book reports to work on, so it just doesn’t leave time for sight-seeing!

  2. 9.26.18
    Betsy said:

    I love the palette you put together — great idea! Also, come to Savannah next time! I moved here from NYC and … as lovely as Charleston is … for my money Savannah wins every time! Sorry Charlestonians ;)

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      Ya know, you’re not the first person to say that! Savannah is definitely on my list!!

  3. 9.26.18
    Ailsa said:

    Charleston is magic. Thank you for gorgeous pictures!
    But those arbs? I think they were just glad to see you.

  4. 9.26.18

    Oooh, fun!

    Never been there but I hear it’s nice. :-)

    Glad you had fun. I hope all this gallivanting about isn’t interfering with getting the house ready for the cold and the wet that should arrive SOON.

    I will agree that getting out is not a bad idea and actually good for us all. I need to do more of this too.

  5. 9.26.18
    ~B said:

    My husband and I are planning to retire to Charleston – or at least snowbird there…Minnesota is lovely and all, but winters get painfully cold, so there’s the impetus to move somewhere warmer.
    We visit Charleston at Christmas time when we’re down in Charlotte to visit my Mom. It’s not quite as flamboyant in December, but still so utterly decadent.
    I can’t wait to follow your lead and check out some of these places next year.
    As always, I love your posts and feel like I’vedeveloped a close, personal, one-sided bond with you :)

  6. 9.26.18
    Nikki said:

    This was a nice read, I’m excited to check out that podcast since I’ve completely exhausted myself on the ones in my regular rotation. Also, thank you for the color palette, those colors go weirdly well with the 1970’s rambler I’m currently residing in. I’ve been desperate to repaint the garage door and front door and I think some of these colors would be awesome with the weird shade of brick covering the exterior.

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh yay!

  7. 9.26.18
    Beth said:

    I love that you recorded the colors- such a cool idea!

  8. 9.26.18
    Emma said:

    Hey, fellow murderino! So glad MFM finally made it to the east coast – I got to see a show last week too.

  9. 9.26.18
    Kim said:

    I’ve never been to Charleston, but it’s so, SO gorgeous in photos! And I love the paint palette, what a cool thing to do.

  10. 9.26.18
    Laurel said:

    Fellow murderino here! ”â™€ï¸ I saw them in Melbourne last year, it was awesome. Looks like a fab trip!

  11. 9.26.18
    Katie said:

    Drenched Sienna. It sounds like a romantic murder.

  12. 9.26.18
    greta said:

    This trip seems so fun. Drama, food and nix mixer! How to people even think to invent nix mixers? Were the colors you matched mostly interiors? They seem dar compared to the pastel exteriors.

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      Almost all exteriors, actually! That’s part of why I love the Nix…it’s so hard to tell when you’re looking at a building outside in the sunshine and I’m usually surprised by the scan. I have used it a couple of times to match a color for paint touch-ups and it was VERY accurate even though I thought there was no way the color was right!

  13. 9.26.18
    Caroline said:

    Oh hey there, Murderino. I saw the ladies in Glasgow earlier this year with my sister. Trying to explain to workmates that I was going to see a live podcast was…. interesting (I’m pretty sure our mum still has no idea what we actually went to see). It’s lovely to hear what you’re up to, since you occupy a not-dissimilar role as K & G do in my headspace.

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      Haha! I had to explain the concept to my mother before I left, and either she is terrified of me now or I’ve birthed another Murderino. Only time will tell!

  14. 9.27.18

    So pretty! The exuberant candy colors, the semi-tropical vibe…
    Working shutters are great. I couldn’t live without them.
    I love that somebody came up with a gadget like the Nix sensor.
    Eagerly awaiting your next post.

  15. 9.27.18
    lisa anne said:

    I love the working gas lanterns

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      So beautiful, right? They’re everywhere!

  16. 9.27.18
    Kelly said:

    Great post highlighting a new pod cast I will have to check out and my adult “hometown”. I love reading how other people see our city…I am a Northern girl by birth but a Southern girl by choice :) Not sure if you have ever been to Charleston for one of the Foundations Home & Garden Tours but these are a wonderful way to peek behind the gates and windows.

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      I haven’t but would loooovvveeeee tooooooo. I might not be able to handle it!

  17. 9.27.18
    Susanne said:

    The Aiken-Rhett house blew my mind:)

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      RIGHT?! It’s such an incredible place.

  18. 9.27.18
    Caroline said:

    That is the back of my head in your picture!! SSDGM!!

    And the colors of Charleston are great! Thank you for that.

    • 9.27.18
      Daniel said:

      OMG! What are the chances??! Hahaha!

  19. 9.27.18
    Abbie said:

    One reason we have so many original features in Charleston is because our city was soooo poor for so long–“too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash”. I’m sure y’all discussed that on the tour, but the strong BAR also kept everybody in line once the money began coming back in. I love my beautiful city–not so in love with the giant hotels and luxury apartments popping up on everywhere, but that’s a rant for a different day.

  20. 9.27.18
    Krystal said:

    I am so jealous – I live just a few hours away and yet have never been to Charleston. But as a former Historic Preservation student, I have a deep love for this city I’ve never visited lol. I mean, it’s the birthplace of this field that is such a passion for me! I will get down there to visit eventually; if I could afford it, I’d retire there (the likelihood of this is next to nil lol.)

    I’m actually rereading a favorite book series of mine that’s set in Charleston right now, and the city is definitely like another main character, as it should be. The Tradd Street series by Karen White – they’re great fun, about a realtor who sees ghosts. But the best part of the books is that this woman inherits an old falling apart historic home at the beginning of the series and throughout the rest of the series, there is all sorts of great bits about the restoration process – good and bad (e.g. how beautiful it all looks/the historical importance vs. how historic homes can sometimes hemorrhage money/there’s always something else to fix lol). The woman is a very reluctant lover of historic homes and it’s a fun perspective reading about her slowly falling in love with being the caretaker of such a great property. Oh, and her best friend in the book is a preservation professor at the College of Charleston so her character adds so much realism to the restoration parts of the books. I love it. I mean, the ghost stories are thoroughly entertaining in my opinion, but the preservation/Charleston settings just push them over the top into Favorite Series status. :)

    Glad you had a fun trip; thanks for sharing it with us all! I’m definitely adding that 5Church place to my list of places to visit; the interior looks incredible!

  21. 9.27.18
    Ally said:

    Reading this post took a lot longer because I had to stop and drool at all the architectural photos. Gah!

  22. 9.27.18
    Kelly said:

    Yassss! One of my favorite cities! Also, I’m 99% certain that the 3rd photo down is Stephen Colbert’s childhood home. Love him! (and you too of course!)

  23. 9.27.18
    Kathy said:

    That bar!! I also love that you went on a fun trip and brought along something to snag paint colors! I would’ve done the same thing, I feel like I take so many photos of things just because I like the color so much.

  24. 9.27.18
    Ryan said:

    Did you watch the most recent season of This Old House? They restored 2 homes in Charleston and it was a good comparison of different parts of town (specifically one in a historically black neighborhood from the 1880s and one that had a separate kitchen building with slave quarters above it. The second home was in such disrepair that they actually couldn’t complete the renovation before the filming ended but they did a follow up tour when it was done on Instagram TV. They also discuss the extent of the historic protections that the city requires and what the contractors had to do to restore pieces that would normally, and more efficiently, be replaced.

    I live in a Western city with a lot of historic (for the west coast which means 100 year old buildings built after a devastating fire in the 1880s) buildings and it’s also because for a long time the city was too economically depressed to tear building down and replace them with new in the 50s-80s. We don’t have much in the way of historic preservation rules now days but do have some developers committed to working with existing structures instead of tear-down/replace.

    I love the color palette and although most cities wouldn’t be as colorful as Charleston I think you should do it again. Maybe a color palette inspired by a garden tour or and interior palette of a home you visit.

  25. 9.27.18
    Milton Mcgorrill said:


    Love your blog, I have been reading since the Brooklyn days.

    If you have an interest in glorious old houses, you need to visit the Morse Libby House aka Victoria Mansion in Portland, ME, The house was designed to resemble Queen Victoria’s residence on the Isle of Wight and it is the only intact commission by the famed interior decorator and cabinet maker, Gustave Herter. It is astoundingly intact, with frescoed walls, ornate plaster and wood work, a flying staircase of Santo Domingo Mahogany, and a large percentage of the original furniture, including dining room china. It was saved in the 1940’s from being demolished for a gas station. Not to be missed.

    see for yourself

  26. 9.27.18
    Tini said:

    Yes to the city palette!! What a neat way to capture the feeling of your trip! Please do more.

  27. 9.28.18
    Haley said:

    I am so jealous you got to go. I started listening a few months ago (from the beginning) and the listening to it become a sensation before your ears is so accurate. I learned they were coming to Durham (way after tickets went on sale) and did not expect it to be completely sold out and resale prices in the hundreds! Hoping to catch them next time.

  28. 9.29.18
    Beth said:

    Just in case your ambivalence about the color thing was a request for input, I’m going to voice my vote for a YES for more dorky color collecting. Also I want one of those things and have literally no reason to need one ever.

  29. 9.29.18
    Jen said:

    Glad to see you stayed out of the woods! ;)

  30. 9.29.18
    Shannon said:

    I must have missed your first nix post. You may have just saved me a couple $K if I can match a nasty stucco repair. Thank you! I really like the city color palette idea. I may borrow that as a fun travel activity. I’d definitely love to see more of them.
    I enjoy your blog. Thanks for all the hours of therapeutic distraction over the years.

  31. 10.1.18
    Raewyn Mackie said:

    I am from New Zealand but on a road trip a couple of years ago we stayed in Charleston. I found and Air B n B in the city. Loved it. We did the Walking tour and I have so many photos of houses, doors, colour schemes. Love your Blog Daniel, Love your work.

  32. 10.2.18
    laura said:

    I am *so here* for color palette summaries of places you visit!

  33. 10.3.18
    Amy said:

    Charleston is my hometown, born and raised, and I always am amazed walking around!: )
    I’m happy you had such a good time!
    Stay Sexy & DON’T GET MURDERED!!!!
    *Elvis, you want a cookie?*

  34. 10.9.18
    Anna T said:

    Doing my quarterly blog catch-up and I am now thrilled to know you are a fellow Murderino!

  35. 10.11.18
    KG said:

    Used to love MFM, but during the tipi fiasco I learned they have a history of ignoring suggestions from POC on how to address racism in the community. Have they made changes?

    • 10.15.18
      Daniel said:

      To be honest, I listen to the podcast but am not really familiar with things like the (now defunct, I guess) Facebook page or merchandise. My basic understanding is that something got out of line with the Facebook page, and they moved swiftly to shut it down—which seems like the right response (and also the most extreme one…I mean literally what more can they do than entirely delete the thing that’s causing a problem?). I think it’s worth remembering that the podcast is incredibly popular, and like any popular thing, I think we can hold the creators accountable for setting the right tone but I don’t think it’s fair to make them responsible for the actions and/or backwards thinking of random people? Especially when they do seem to make real effort to call out and correct that behavior? Personally—and this is based on what I’ve heard on the podcast—I think both Karen and Georgia have conducted themselves incredibly well as MFM has become what it has and the increased scrutiny they obviously face as a result—owning their mistakes and their privilege, trying to do better when they misstep, and taking more responsibility for the “community” (which, as they frequently point out, is something that’s taken on a life of its own and isn’t something they even particularly engage in) than they have to. At the end of the day it’s a comedy podcast about true crime, meaning it confronts very real (literally life or death!) stories, facts, and trends in the criminal justice system—which in many ways is created by a set of fundamentally racist institutions. It’s inherently difficult territory that I think the show has helped expose, spread awareness, and open up a broader conversation about. I’d rather have that taking place in an occasionally flawed, trying-to-improve way than not at all.

      (forgive me if I’m missing some key fact or detail—I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s viewpoint, just sharing my own impression.)