As an enthusiastic designaholic, interior designer Brandon Branch already has bought and renovated seven houses — yes, seven — in Savannah, Georgia. And he just turned 40. “Houses really are my passion,” he says. “I have a real love for the process of taking a home in need of love and turning it into a showplace.”
Savannah is ideal for architecture aficionados, after all, with its shady town squares lined with historic houses. The coastal Georgia town is home to the artsy school SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), so although interiors may be rich with antiques, there’s usually a bit of a bohemian vibe, as well.
Brandon’s seventh house is pure Savannah charm — with a colorful history. “My home was built in 1886 and has a New Orleans feel to it with iron railings,” he explains. “It was originally a boarding house on the top two floors, the first floor was a candy store and in back was a barber shop.”
A lot of architectural features were intact in the house, giving Brandon a good starting point. He and his realtor husband, Jim Johnston, did some key remodeling — putting in a new kitchen and bath, and new flooring for the first-level foyer, for instance—but they never lost sight of the fun part: decorating.
Antiques fill the historic home, each with a provenance that appeals to Brandon. “I love anything that has a story or a history,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed collecting antiques and I buy most of them in Savannah.” To avoid the house feeling like a museum, the designer mixed in modern art, fresh pillows and the occasional unexpected accessory.
“I think the key to blending antiques and keeping a fresh look is not to completely fill a room with antiques,” Brandon advises. “I like a nice blend … I try to stick with a mix of 60 percent new and 40 percent antique. I do feel in Savannah you can push it to 60 percent antiques and 40 percent new,” he says, adding, “We are, after all, a city rich in history.”
Thanks to Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn for today’s beautiful photography. See more of her work here.