Southern Comfort

Charles Taylor and Samir Nikocevic in their parlor, flanked by portraits of them by Anthony Palliser. Photo by Jeremiah Hull

A cosmopolitan couple finds home sweet home. 

After living in the Connecticut countryside for 12 years, Samir Nikocevic and Charles Taylor were fed up with long, harsh winters and ready for a change. When a friend sang the praises of Savannah, they came down to investigate and knew at once they had found their new home.

Drawn to the downtown district for its walkability and charm, Nikocevic, a pianist, and Taylor, an interior designer and painter, soon landed on a stately four-level townhouse on Oglethorpe Street. With four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a grand parlor, formal dining room and garden-level apartment, it was certainly spacious enough. In fact, Nikocevic and Taylor soon learned that their home, at 30 feet wide, was unusually large for any row home, let alone one in Savannah. Their new house also came with a good bit of history: It’s one of four residences that make up Marshall Row, built in the 1850s by businesswoman Mary Marshall as spec properties and later revived by the Historic Savannah Foundation in the late 1950s.

The master bedroom is wrapped in chinoiserie wallpaper from Brunschwig & Fils. Photo by Jeremiah Hull

“We loved the house firstly because of its location,” Nikocevic says. “But it also has a wonderful square shape to it and is beautifully proportioned. So we decided to move, and then we met half the town in five minutes—you know how Savannah is.”

That was four years ago, and by now they’ve become deeply involved in the community. Nikocevic, who’s originally from Croatia, works closely with the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra, currently serving as the vice chair of its board. Taylor, who grew up in New York City, has strong philanthropic ties with the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision.

Vintage children’s artwork, purchased at a New York auction, hangs in a guest bedroom. Photo by Jeremiah Hull

With 12-foot-high ceilings and floor-to ceiling windows offering a tremendous view of Colonial Park Cemetery across the street, the Savannah gray brick townhouse is as impressive as its inhabitants. It comes as little surprise, then, that it’s a frequent stop on historic city tours. Nikocevic recounts a story of the first morning he and Taylor spent in the home, when they discovered throngs of people gathered outside their window. “I thought maybe the house was on fire,” Nikocevic says with a laugh, adding that they’ve since installed retractable window coverings for privacy.

As for the décor, Taylor made sure that it remained in keeping with the home’s Southern spirit. “We believe our mission is to make this house a celebration of the South and protect its historic integrity,” he notes. “We’ve always believed that it should be a traditional Southern home.”

The dining room is adorned with the couple’s collection of English silver, and a traditional breakfront china cabinet is a family heirloom. Photo by Jeremiah Hull

The couple curated much of their furnishings from local stores, blending family heirlooms and curios acquired during their extensive travels. The parlor’s wide entry is flanked by large-scale portraits of Nikocevic and Taylor by renowned artist and Savannah visitor Anthony Palliser, while an oversized gilded mirror, purchased from Habersham Antiques, hangs over the fireplace. In the dining room, their collection of large sterling serving pieces from England makes a splendid table centerpiece. Nearby, a set of Tiffany china, which Taylor’s grandmother received as a wedding gift in the 1930s, is displayed in a traditional breakfront china cabinet—previously owned by Nikocevic’s grandmother. A black lacquer gaming table in the front hallway was acquired from Alex Raskin Antiques. “With collecting, our philosophy has always been to buy something we like, rather than buy something that’s going to be worth something—although we hope that it is,” Taylor says.

A lacquered gaming table from Alex Raskin Antiques in the front hallway. Photo by Jeremiah Hull

Nikocevic likes to describe the third level as their “guest floor,” where one of the bedrooms overlooks the private courtyard. Decorated like a dollhouse, it features a four-poster canopy bed, linens bedecked in rosy chintz and florals, and vintage artwork featuring a beloved nursery rhyme, the latter purchased at a New York auction.

The couple’s bedroom is located on the fourth floor, where it’s separated from the rest of the house for privacy. The room is enveloped in chinoiserie wallpaper from Brunschwig & Fils, and their dignified four-poster bed faces a pair of expansive windows. The garden level, meanwhile, is where the homeowners work: Nikocevic’s Steinway grand piano at the room’s center, with Taylor’s painting accoutrements close by.

Photo by Jeremiah Hull

As the couple ventures into a fifth year of Savannah living, they’re starting to think like true locals, recognizing not only the city’s beauty—but also its convenience. “Nowhere else can you live in an urban environment, yet see 10 people you know wherever you go,” says Nikocevic. “And you can get to the airport in 15 minutes, then be in New York City an hour and a half later.”

DETAILS

Homeowners: Samir Nikocevic and Charles Taylor

Year purchased: 2014

Year built: 1850s

Square footage: 5,100

Accommodations: 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

Interior designer: Charles Taylor

Contractor: Robin Construction (roof resurfacing, wall and window repairs)

Paint/wallpaper: Ralph Lauren, Brunschwig & Fils

Landscape design: Jan VandenBulck

Audio/visual: Samsung, Crestron

HVAC: Comfort Air

Furniture: Baker, Kindell, Alex Raskin Antiques, Habersham Antiques, family heirlooms

Appliances: Bosh, GE Monogram

Art: Ben Bianchi, Anthony Palliser, Cindy Sherman, Charles Taylor, Gary Weisman, Audubon Society prints, family heirlooms

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