Rural Reverie: Designer Kristin Ellen Hockman’s Enchanting Country Retreat

By Sydney Gaul

Nestled just outside the charming city of Charleston, interior designer Kristin Ellen Hockman’s journey into the world of design commenced at an early age. Her formative years were filled with visits to fabric shops and antique stores, where an insatiable curiosity drove her to participate in the design of her childhood bedrooms. She attributes this innate passion to her mother, who played an instrumental role in nurturing her design sensibilities right from the very beginning.

Kristin defines her style as a blend of tradition and approachability. Her goal is to create spaces that not only captivate the eye but also beckon you to live in them. This ethos is beautifully reflected in her own home—a historic gem dating back to 1852. Surrounded by the enchanting allure of formal gardens rumored to be crafted by the renowned Loutrel Briggs, Kristin’s abode stands as a testament to her distinct yet timeless design flair.
Embracing a recent transition to a rural lifestyle, Kristin offers us an intimate glimpse into her world—one where bees buzz, farm animals frolic, and her baby toddles as Kristin cultivates herbs, tends to her vegetable garden, and embarks on new ventures like her latest project, @shopottar.

Welcome, Kristin!

Kristin Ellen Hockman with her husband and daughter, Astrid

Q:  What drew you to your current home? Can you tell us more about it?

A:  We had been living in Charleston for a couple of years and felt it was finally the right time for us to purchase a home. We were mainly looking for a home downtown and then serendipitously stumbled across this one. We took the drive out to see it (about 35 minutes from downtown Charleston) and instantly fell in love with its potential. We knew we wanted to purchase an older home but never thought we would find something like this! Built in 1852, our home is a true example of southern Greek Revival vernacular architecture. During the early to mid 20th century, the Roosevelt family (a cousin of FDR) owned it and created the most beautiful formal gardens said to have been designed by renowned landscape architect, Loutrel Briggs. When we moved in, the gardens were completely overgrown but we are slowly breathing new life into them.

Q:  When and how did you first become interested in interior design?

A:  Interior design has been my calling for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories of when I was little, drawing up floor plans for how I thought my parents should re-arrange the furniture in the living room and constantly moving items around my own bedroom. My mother was so supportive of my interest in design and cultivated my passion for it very early on. I would go to her and say, “I want to paint my bedroom pink and get a matching gingham comforter” and she would always respond “Let’s do it!” – this positive reaction and support of letting me express myself was (and still is) everything to me. Interior design really became our hobby together. We would visit antique shops, go to the fabric store, sew pillows together! I am eternally grateful for this because it led me to where I am today.

Q:  How would you describe your design style?

A:  My style is traditional but approachable. I am a lover of antiques through and through however I do like to pepper in a bit of playfulness. It is very important to me that a room be inviting. I want spaces to be lived in and not just admired.

Q:  Who are your favorite designers?

A:  Renzo Mongiardino, Robert Kime, Christopher Gibbs, Rose Uniacke!

Q:  Can you tell us about your upcoming project, @shopottar?

A:  Ottar is a passion project / creative outlet I am trying to squeeze in between taking care of Astrid and my design projects! The first launch will be this fall and will consist of a collection of antique and vintage Swedish herbarium specimens all paired with mixed media frames I have created myself. I have also been working on a few art prints for children’s rooms that I hope to launch by the end of the year. It has been such a labor of love, and I am so appreciative of all the support I have received thus far.

Q:  What are some of your preferred garden ingredients you like to incorporate into your culinary creations?

A:  We have a delicious green pizza we love to make that includes many ingredients from the garden- kale, spinach, arugula, basil and nasturtium leaves. Nasturtiums, in my opinion, are the most underrated plant! They taste delicious (both the leaves and flowers are edible), are incredibly easy to grow, self seed, and really elevate any dish.

Q:  How would you describe the transition to country life?

A:  It has been the biggest breath of fresh air. Having space to grow our family and even have a few animals has been the biggest dream come true. 

Q:  Living on a farm, you must have a deep connection to nature. How does this connection translate into your design work?

A:  Since moving to the country, I have become incredibly connected with nature and even more so since having Astrid, and that plays a huge role in why I am so drawn to antiques and vintage pieces. They are leaps and bounds friendlier for our environment and really stand the test of time so I always try to veer away from any trendy new pieces that will be tossed in a landfill after a few years. And of course, I am inspired by color in nature. I have been craving autumn and seeing the leaves slowly change colors. It is such a cozy and nostalgic feeling, so I recently painted our family room a crisp marigold in an effort to emulate this feeling year around.

Q:  Has there been a particularly challenging aspect of your home renovation?

A:  Renovating an old home is always like opening a can of worms. You find one small thing you want to change, but in order to do that, you must first change five other things. It’s a chain reaction any time you set out to do a renovation!

Q:  Can you share an example of how you’ve worked to enhance certain unique architectural characteristics in your home while integrating some modern elements?

A:  It is extremely important to us to keep the integrity of our home and its original architecture. One example of this is our kitchen. When we moved in, our kitchen was still the original kitchen that was added to the back of our home in the 1930s (before that time, there was no kitchen inside the main house). Needless to say, it was time for it to go. However, to honor the original design, we kept the same floor plan. To be completely honest, it is not my ideal layout (there are many moments where I wish we had a huge kitchen where we could gather and entertain) but it was very important that we honor the original layout that was designed by Simons & Lapham. So, we stuck with the galley kitchen in the same original layout but modernized it with all new cabinetry, flooring, appliances, etc. It has turned out to be such a beautiful and timeless space.

Kristin, thank you so much for joining us today and allowing us to glimpse inside the enchanted world you and your family have created! You are truly an inspiration in so many ways! You have brought fresh vibrancy, endless charm and delight into your beautifully restored historic estate, and we cannot wait to watch as your new business, Ottar, comes to life as well.

To see more, please follow @kristinellenhockman on Instagram and @shopottar.


  1. The photo of the darling baby girl wearing a white dress & rain boots was my hands down favorite. Miss those days!

    I’m happy that little girl gets to grow up surrounded by such beauty – both interior & exterior. 🙂

  2. Ohhhhhh! The house is gorgeous and the gardens are lovely. Her daughter is a beautiful, inquisitive child. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. I love everything on Glam Pad, one of the very few sites I visit. But I really like your home and gardens so much, because they are not perfect. This is real life. Thank you for sharing a peek!

  4. One of the most thoughtfully, gracefully homes and estates I have ever seen. Simply elegant and gorgeous without one iota of “cutesy”. What taste. And a very functional, productive land!


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