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Modern Living in the Old South

Modern Living in the Old South

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Destiny By Design

Her grandmother laid the groundwork for the path she would take. Amber Hoover Bennett, with the help of family and friends, has followed that path her whole life, leading up to what is now her dream home.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question is one that most people have been asked as children, with the typical responses being something along the lines of a firefighter, police man, or teacher. This was not the case with Amber Hoover Bennett. Since she was a child, her main interest has always been design; whether it is interior design or design in fashion, she has always appreciated being surrounded by beauty, and has always wanted to carry that passion with her as she “grew up.” However, her appreciation for all things aesthetically pleasing did not begin with her. In her own words, it runs in her genes.

Amber’s grandmother (from her mother’s side of the family), Vivian, was an interior designer and fashionista in her own sense. Vivian worked at a furniture store in Downtown Charleston and offered her own design services to those looking for their own sense of style. She was known to scout the Charleston area for bargain deals on items that others often overlooked, taking her (sometimes dusty, dirty, or broken) finds home and transforming them into the extrava- gant pieces that she had envisioned in her mind. Vivian’s daughter, Sherri, followed in her mother’s footsteps and adored fashion, beauty, and style. Their passion for beauty was passed on to Amber, and for as long as she can remember she has been designing her environ- ment to her liking. When she was just six years old, she used one of her grandmother’s silk scarves to cover a lampshade to “soften the lighting.” Sure, it did start a small fire, but it’s the thought that counts. She showed that same thoughtfulness when her parents were out working on the farm, and she decided to set up a whole dinner party for them, using her mother’s fine china and fresh “herbs” (wild- flowers she found outside) to complete the perfect table setting. Even as a child, Amber knew it was all about the details.

Carrying her passion for details and design into her adulthood, Amber’s first major project was located on “Hoover Homestead,” the name given to the property her family has owned in Ridgeville for generations. Amber’s paternal grandparents lived in a home builtin 1940 that they called “The Little House.” When Amber was just 20 years old, she renovated and rejuvenated that little house on the corner of the property and brought it back to its former glory. In 1996, Amber’s parents built a home for themselves on the family property. Amber lived there in her teenage years, and after starting the renovations last year with some major help from her husband Micah and their friends and family, they have made a picture-perfect home for themselves and their two beautiful children, Claira Belle and Beau Bleu.

Amber calls her design style “gathered,” and lovingly describes her house as a “collected” home, and for good reason. She strives to be as sustainable as possible, using reclaimed, recovered, and salvaged materials. Her laundry room floor is made from bricks from the fireplace of an old Charleston home that was being demolished. Her custom cabinets were made using cabinet doors that were saved from a hotel, precious lumber that otherwise would have been tossed in the trash. In the spirit and with the same vision as her late grandmother Vivian, Amber sees the potential life in items that others would have discarded.

Driving up to Amber and Micah’s home, you are first stunned by the beauty of the outside of the house itself, including the perfectly maintained yard and meticulously placed flowers in all of the right places. You see the home, a gorgeous farmhouse-style structure that is quite the surprising sight as you drive down the old dirt road leading up to it. The exterior of the home is breathtaking, to the point where you don’t think it can get any better, that is…until you walk inside.

From the moment you walk through the reclaimed-wood door frame of the house, you are pleasantly overwhelmed with an un- derstanding of how talented Amber really is. She has taken a traditional Lowcountry home that was built in the nineties, and transformed it into a home that has appeared to be in the family for generations prior. Using the perfect balance between old Southern design and modern Charleston-style luxury, Amber has absolutely achieved that look. From the black-polished floors to the marble accents throughout the home, the antiqued glass and the six-foot Waterford chandelier, it is clear that Amber has “the eye” for design. Yet it wasn’t by accident that these elements of her home are perfectly executed. With one or two exceptions, every detail to her home is carefully curated to fit her vision.

The beauty that exudes from the Bennett home does in fact come from Amber’s creative mind, but she is not alone. Her partner- in-design is her beloved mother-in-law, Cheryl. The two have travelled near and far to estate, garage, and yard sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, and antique malls to find the treasures they have collected.In Amber’s own words,“We have found phenom- enal treasures, but none as great as the bond that Cheryl and I share, created together on our adventures.” The dynamic duo live for the thrill of the find in searching for the next treasure to add to Amber’s home, and they have gotten so good at what they do that they have given a name to themselves, the Gathered Hens. The Gathered Hens’ goal is to inspire others that beauty in interior design does not have to be expensive. Through their website, Youtube channel, Instagram, and Facebook, they teach others how to achieve the “gathered” and “collected” look that Amber has accomplished in her own home, a sophisticated Southern aesthetic.

While Amber does not currently accept clients for her interior designing skills, she would rather spend her time giving back to her community in other ways. She strives to shop as locally as possible, supporting places like Jedburg Junction, Every- ThingChic-ETC, and Piazza Home for some of her treasures. Before COVID19 hit, Amber volunteered herself and Carrie Crosby (of Carrie Crosby Interiors) as the lead designers for multiple events at her daughter’s school, Pinewood Preparatory School, and plans to do so in the future. Mrs. Bennett also enjoys doing pro-bono work for those less fortunate, teaming up again with Carrie to bring their interior design skills to weddings, photoshoots, homes, and more.

Amber may not claim the old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” as her motto, but she is a living and breathing example of what can be accomplished with hard work, a keen eye, a passion for design, and the tenacity to get the job done no matter how old or damaged an item may be. The Gathered Hens have inspired so many people to follow their gathered and collected design style, with no plans of stopping anytime soon. AM

If you are seeking inspiration for your home or would like to see more of the beauty that Amber has created, follow The Gathered Hens on social media:

Instagram: @thegatheredhens
Website and Blog: YouTube channel: The Gathered Hens Facebook: Gathered Hens

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