If the design firm charged with “refreshing” Magnolias is successful, patrons won’t be taken aback by any of the changes they notice when the restaurant reopens in February after a monthlong renovation hiatus – unless they use the bathroom.
“The restrooms are going to be completely changed,” promises Bill Johnson, the Charleston native who heads up The Johnson Studio. “The restrooms were very, very plain.”
Beyond the restrooms, the tweaks will be less dramatic. The dining room will gain “softer seating to make it more comfortable,” and its acoustics will be upgraded to reflect contemporary technology. An antique mirrored wall with sconces and a banquette will be set against the back wall. Still, Johnson predicts guests will be struck mostly by the “crisp and clean” look of the spruced-up space.
“It’ll just be renewed, really,” Johnson says.
Much of the renovation work will focus on the bar area. Magnolias is adding an expanded seating area with a black slate floor, and a heart pine liquor shelf behind the bar. According to Johnson, dark Charleston green bar stools and gray-blue accents will complete the new color palette.
Although The Johnson Studio has worked on small projects at Magnolias, including a revamp of its bar after South Carolina did away with mini-bottles of liquor, the renovation marks the restaurant’s first overhaul since its opening in 1990.
“It really hasn’t changed in 25 years,” Johnson says.
Atlanta’s The Johnson Studio was brand new when Magnolias opened, but the firm handled the design of sister restaurants Blossom and Cypress. Other Southern restaurants in its portfolio include Fearing’s in Dallas; ROOST in Greenville and KR Steakbar, One Midtown Kitchen and The Spence in Atlanta.
Magnolias will remain open for the holidays, closing on Jan. 2. The restaurant plans to reopen the first week of February.