sneak peek: corbin lee gurkin

photographer corbin lee gurkin nearly always has her bags packed and ready to set off on a new adventure. she’s photographed weddings everywhere from india to italy and all over the u.s.a. but when she’s not jet-setting all over the world, she sets down her bags in charleston, where she’s created a home filled with memories of her travels. (see more of corbin’s home on flickr!) {thanks, corbin & thatcher and all the puppies – truman, waldorf & eloise!}amy

[I love Charleston but coastal décor is not at all my style, so when I bought a home on a rural island just over the bridge from downtown, I felt I was in for bit of a challenge.  My own work has always been inspired by Lewis Carroll and I’ve definitely designed the house with his sort of whimsical sensibility in mind. I love Country French, I love Swedish design and gush over those stormy blue tones; I’m totally inspired by ornate chateaus in the Loire Valley, and I’ve spent half of my adult life living in Italy, so there were a lot of different possibilities swirling around in my mind when I began to design my own home.  Ultimately, I wanted to showcase the highlights of my life of travel. I finally had a place for all of the treasures I’ve collected over the years and I still bring home little pieces from each place I visit.  I like the idea of having a “passport stamped object” to remind me of those experiences.  My surroundings have become an eclectic mix of antiques, photography and paintings made by myself or friends, and flea market finds.]

[photo above: The dining room set was the last major piece of furniture that the house needed and I found the entire set for a steal at a Habitat for Humanity store.  The gold accents were originally yellow so I repainted these to give more formality to the table and chairs.  I recovered the chairs in a rose emu leather that happened to be a perfect match to the wall color.  The pink beaded chandelier was a gift from my dear friend Jan Wilkinson, an amazing designer in North Carolina.  It was so perfectly feminine and I liked the way its pale color “popped” from the surrounding walls.]

[photo above: The claw foot tub was the selling point.  I love nothing more than taking a hot bath while reading a John Irving novel and this tub was to die for.  I found the cream cabinet at a farm in Charleston and I later added the patterned fabric panels on the doors.]

[photo above: This is my guest bedroom and more often where my dog Eloise enjoys her three o’clock nap.  The headboard is an old wooden door that I attached to the wall.  I had the pink toile pillows made from a Ralph Lauren fabric.]

CLICK HERE for the rest of Corbin’s peek (and all the images on one page!)

[photo above: This is my little home office.  It is closed off from the living room with white French doors and I decorated it in a salon style.  There is a gallery I used to visit in the Uffizi where all of the paintings are hung just like this and I always loved the style.  The frames have been collected over the years and I have filled them with old postcards or foreign currency. I picked up the oil painting at a flea market in Berlin and the nude drawing is by a friend of mine, Graham Allen.  My desk is a chippy farm table from the 1800s.  I loved the color!]

[photo above: This is my favorite piece in the house.  I found the blue chesterfield at a flea market and it was one of those “buy now and figure out how to get it home later” moments. It’s incredibly comfortable, serving as one of many resting spots for my two brussels griffons, Waldorf & Eloise.]

[photo above: I bought this chandelier from a consignment shop and it was likely made in the North Carolina mountains – a little nod to my roots.  There are small bird accents through out the house and this piece incorporated some of those natural elements.]

[photo above: The layout of my house is very open so the kitchen can be seen from the living and dining rooms.  I hung the windows to create a bit of a divider which would hide the refrigerator and sink.  The “Corbin” sign has sentimental value – my father passed away when I was 15 and while I was growing up, worked as a  traveling salesman.  He brought this old “Corbin Ltd” store sign home from one of his trips and I’ve had it since I was about 6 years old.  It’s a special reminder of him.]

[What started off as a small prop collection for a photo shoot (see the project here) has grown in to a rather massive assortment of vintage tins. I love English and French tea tins in particular, and have picked most these up on trips to Europe or Maine.  I try to find a tin from each new place I visit, but the best ones have come from Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill.]

[photo above: I bought this bed just out of college when I moved to my first New York apartment.  It’s an Italian piece that I found at the ABC Carpet and Home warehouse in the Bronx.  My childhood bed was also cream cane and after 23 years of sleeping in a twin, it felt like such a luxury to finally sleep in a queen!  The blue striped suede bedding was handmade from a remnant bolt.]

[photo above: The chest of drawers belonged to my father and I had it refinished by artist Steve Pelland. My mother gave me the trousseau mirror when I moved into my first apartment and it has followed me ever since.  She has an amazing eye and has guided me with many of the design decisions in the house.]

[photo above: The corner cabinet is a family heirloom. It was in my grandmother’s dining room in Richmond, Virginia and I had it refinished in cream and blue to become more of a bedroom piece.  I found that fabulous dress for $20 in a bin at a flea market – I’ve used it over an over again in photo shoots.]

[photo above: I was inspired to create this wallpaper after seeing Anne Frank’s wall of starlets in the hidden annex in Amsterdam.  It is now a museum and I was tremendously moved by this little vignette in her young life.  I designed the wallpaper in photoshop using scanned family photos and sent the final file to be printed by  Most of the photos are of my mother, who was an accomplished runway model and actress.  I have held onto her old snapshots over the years and finally found a way to showcase them.]

[photo above: This is an old train mirror and the photo is of my partner Thatcher and I.  It was taken in Nepal after we had just spent the afternoon swimming with elephants – one of the best days of my life!  Thatcher is a humanitarian photographer and the little elephants around the house are nod to our first trip together spent at an elephant reserve in Kenya.]


I love that combination of hot pink walls with the pale aqua painted furnishings.
(also: precious dogs!)


I love this style! Especially the twiggy chandelier and the hanging windows…what great ideas! I also have a soft spot for Charleston in my heart, as I lived there during college….I can’t wait to see what makes the upcoming city guide!

Shannon Tilman

I grew up and still live in Charleston…I also grew up on that rural island you are referring to!!
Love the house and the bath tub would have sold me too!!


Three mirrors on one wall with matching picture frames are impressive and a first for me.


thank you for finally featuring a house with something *other* than white walls! about time.

A Rockridge Life

Gurkin obviously has a great eye for color. I love the rose color in the dining room and the chandelier is stunning. The bathroom is another favorite of mine.



we feature homes without white walls on a pretty regular basis. if you’re not familiar with the column, here are a few of my favorite colorful walls from the past month or so:



I love the dogs! OMG, they are adorable! oh, and the rest of the house is pretty good too.

Melissa de la Fuente

wow….I am flabbergasted! This home is absolutely gorgeous. From the beautiful colors of the front porch(LOVE that blue- could I trouble you for the color names?) to your gorgeous bed, couch, puppies and tin collection. *sigh* This is a home I would love to live in….just so beautifully done, I could go on and on.


Mmm there’s so many things I love about this…Starting with the dining room to the windows-as-dividers in the kitchen to the -oh-so-cool-and-chick tins (adorable!!!) <3



we’ve posted more white in the past few weeks, but the homes definitely haven’t been devoid of color in general :)


Jeannine Kennedy

I’ve had the pleasure of dining with Corbin twice and she is definitely on my “rock star vendors” list of folks I am itching to work with some day. She is a wonderful photographer and a pleasure to spend time with. I enjoyed this feature of her home, especially since I have heard her talk about it before. Thanks for sharing, Grace!


Hmm. Must confess am not a fan of a two-color scheme used throughout an entire house. That plus the kiddie-toy shades make me feel like I’m looking into a kid’s toybox. Dig the linens and bedroom furniture, though. The kind of bedroom I’d love to see in a vacation house, or as a friend’s spare room.


LOVE this home. It manages to be colorful, whimsical, traditional, classic and forward-thinking all in one! and I’m a sucker for adorable Brussels Griffons.


Very stylish, very soulful – I love every bit of it. I’ve had the exact blue walls in the bedroom which just got changed to white. Now I know what my bedroom was missing before, the grand furniture, that beautiful corner cabinet, the dresser, and on and on.


I grew up in Charleston! I live in NC now, but am planning on moving back in the near future! Mmmm home sweet home!


i love that “twig” chandelier! what is the provenance of such an item?

Inspire Me

One of my favorite sneak peeks of all time – Inspiration all over the place!

Abigail Jane

i have a few of those tins. and my collection started out as a whim too. oh those addictive little vintage tins!

Lindsay Jean

this is seriously inspiring. I absolutely love it!


I like shabby chic, in other peoples places, mostly. I love mid century–but I am always looking for ways to soften that look more…thanks!

Desha Peacock

so lovely. i also adore the exterior colors, what color is that on the porch and shutters? very nice~


so very beautiful! i love all of the colors, especially the red and blue bathroom and the sweet front porch!


Just love this house so much!! Cute, gorgeous and has tons of personality!! Doggies are so cute too <3


love the colors, wish i had the courage to paint my walls and be bold!

Mannigan Edwards

Color can have an astounding effect on perceptions, feelings, and interactions. Different colors evoke different memories and different ideas. In the place, where one is supposed to be most at ease, it is important that you plan out your color scheme so that it creates the maximum comfort for you.


Love your choice of pink for the dining room! Why is it I always get the biggest bolt of envy when people have found such amazing thrift shop finds? That blue chesterfield and dining set- wow! Love your home.


I’m heading to Charleston for the first time this weekend- do you think Corbin has a fabulous spare room for me? ;)

Heidi Gordon

Beautiful home, especially love the exterior shutter color – would love to know the paint name – has anyone told you yet that the link provided to flickr is a private page and cannot be viewed?


I have been trying to figure out what kind of sofa I have for years! It was given to me by my grandparents who found it at an estate sale. Now I know it’s a Chesterfield style sofa! It’s not leather, but it’s about that color. Too cool. I love it!


I really love this site /anxiously await every house tour. This tour is particularly lovely (in my opinion). What I wouldn’t do for a baby blue chesterfield sofa!! It’s just so wonderful.
@Lora, I’m a big fan of lots of color and of honest opinions. Keep giving them:)


Hi from the UK! I love your house, fabulous use of colour, texture and form. Can see you are a creative soul. you are partner would freak at pink walls, ha ha! Only just got him into floral fabrics so working on him slowly. Lovely to see British vintage stuff finding its way over from Portobello Market into an appreciative home. I found this site a month ago and catch up at the end of my working day for inspiration, thank you!


This is EXACTLY how I would decorate my place if I wasn’t abysmally lazy in that way…Ha! Seriously, though….those vintage tins had me drooling. ♥♥♥!!!!



Just love the color of those shutters. I had been trying to talk my husband into painting them that color, but he’s feeling as if it’s not masculine enough. We’re going for black shutters now, but I’m thinking about making a play to paint the door that color blue now…


I love the juxtaposition of the new and old in the photograph where you have your mac and the vintage photos. so cute!


I love the farm table desk. I also love the corner curio cabinet in the bedroom. Great idea.


Corbin’s house is as beautiful as she is, inside and out-both her and her house! Gorgeous! Thank you for posting this!

Toronto Elli

I have to say, that this interior has really its own personality. Very stylish place with a little bit of vintage vibe. Chosen colours put so much life into this house. Different materials and accessories make this place to an amazing space especially for young, temperamental people, who like the artful play like this. Successful composition of colours and objects create an interesting rhythm in this nice work of art. These inspiring pictures can help everyone to change the “interior of horror” into stunning place. This is an example how to furnish and decorate our homes, so they reflex our personality and we feel well and comfortable there.

Best regards,


I would love to live here- I wouldn’t change a thing! Can you tell me what the fabric on the cabinet doors in the bathroom is? I have to have it! Thanks so much!


That pink in your office is A M A Z I N G. Would you share the color and source? Lovely lovely home.

Eileen 2

It’s brilliant to echo the tub color in the wallpaper panels on an old cabinet. I am SO GONNA STEAL that great idea.

Adore that rounded drapery holder above the bed. Where I can find something akin to that — but less frilly?

Corbin Gurkin

I need to dig through some files to find all of these paint colors, but I will post them shortly! Such a thrill that so many of you are enjoying the house :-)
Feel free to email me with questions. The home is also on the site

Judi Powers

What a treat to be able to see your home Corbin. You are as talented in the home decor department as you are in photography. Loved all of it.


Oh and I’m soooo jealous of those vintage tins. I am collecting them slowly but I only have about 6 at the moment!

vibram five fingers

Very stylish place with a little bit of vintage vibe. Chosen colours put so much life into this house. Different materials and accessories make this place to an amazing space especially for young

Candace Walton

I would love to know all the paint colors, too. Have you been able to post them and I somehow missed it?
Thank you so much.

Corbin Gurkin

Paint Colors are here!

For the porch: Valspar – Spa Pool in high gloss

Office & Living/Dining Room: Benjamin Moore – Sultan’s Palace in Aura Paint

Bedroom: Porter – Heavenly Blue

Feel free to email me with other questions!


Hi. Love your post. Would love to know the name of the other exterior colors. Thanks, Maria

Uncle Charles & Charlotte

Corbin, we are so very proud of you and your accomplishments. Your house with all the unique pieces were beautiful, and could only be displayed by you. The family pictures and furture have brought tears to our eyes. So many good family memories!! We would love to see your home one day. We are also looking forward to seeing you and your future mate along with your adorable dogs.
Love, Uncle Charles & Charlotte


Wow! How beautiful. I love the mix of styles, colours, textures and items. It seems like every single piece has a story and a history in your house. Nothing is included without it having significance. Thank you for the gorgeous photos – I’ll certainly be looking at them for inspiration in my own home.

Elizabeth Ann Herring

Hi! Could you please tell me the name of the color you used in the bedroom (blue)? Love it!


Hello, could you also please tell me the shade/color of pink you used for the dining room in the first picture? I love the rustic look of the shelves and dresser in the bedroom :)