For John and Reyne Miller, Paradise Island’s groves of mature shade trees, melodic sounds of wildlife, panoramic marsh and river views and overall sense of peace seemed the perfect antidote to their hectic city lives. The pristine setting of this 360-acre island, set along the Wando River and only minutes north of historic downtown Charleston, inspired the couple to create a home that fit gently into this rich Lowcountry setting.
Tucked into a small copse of indigenous trees, the couple’s light gray-colored, Adirondack-meets-Lowcountry vernacular-style home blends perfectly with the clear coastal Carolina skies.
“I love building durable homes for my clients,” states Charleston custom homebuilder Carey Alcott. “To me, a durable home is a sustainable home.”
Typical of sustainable construction, the home features double-paned impact windows and foam insulation. According to Alcott, the owner of William Carey Homes, the flared shake siding is one of the most remarkable and sustainable features of the home.
“Instead of organic cedar shake, we chose NichiShake fiber cement siding, manufactured by Nichiha. It’s a relatively low maintenance exterior cladding material,” says Alcott. “That gives the home the look of real cedar shake without the maintenance headaches. Working closely with the project’s architectural designer, Damien Busillo, we were able to achieve a flared look at the inside and outside corners of the structure, typical of the Adirondack style; however, we achieved the look with a relatively nonpliant material. Looking at the home, it’s almost impossible to distinguish the easy-to-care-for cement siding from real cedar shake.” The innovative use and seamless application of this material earned the finished project a prominent place in Nichiha’s national promotional literature, notes Alcott.
Finding unique solutions to challenges plays directly into Alcott’s strengths. A business manager long before he became a custom homebuilder, Alcott approaches every home he builds from a manager’s perspective. Having built high-end, custom homes for over 25 years, he declares, “To me, it’s personal.” In keeping with this dedication, he works exclusively from a mobile office, enabling him to be closer to his projects and crews full time.
“The privilege of building someone’s home—and it is a privilege—comes with great responsibility,” Alcott says. “It’s that sense of responsibility that became the foundation of my business model, which is to build one home at a time. I believe if you are going to manage a project, you have to be on site to do it. That is the only way I feel that I can live up to the responsibility that comes with building someone’s dream.”
Inside the Miller home, the resident couple’s passion for contemporary living is immediately evident. Ecological and durable bamboo flooring serves as the canvas for an open living space that includes a kitchen, dining area and a great room. Interior designer Kristy Phillips Johnston worked from a Greek island-inspired color palette of stark white and blues. This palette flowed seamlessly into one of the couple’s favorite features, the rear deck, and is apparent throughout the scheme of the splash pool, cabana bar and outdoor bathroom. Another inspired collaboration feature of the Miller’s home is the orthogonal woodwork and trim that runs throughout the interior. With input from the owners and the interior and architectural designers, Alcott worked with his company’s core of five tradesmen to design and implement a unique look. Pointing to the coffered ceiling, Alcott says, “It’s all square. Most ceilings incorporate cove or crown molding with curves of some kind in them. This ceiling design and trim package reflects what the clients really wanted.” For Alcott, giving his clients exactly what they want is most important. “That’s a major part of my definition as a custom home builder,” he says. “I go to work every day clear about that one goal.”
“Carey had a lot of advice and vision,” homeowner Reyne Miller says. “He was able to guide us in the building process and watch out for us. People have nightmare stories about building a house, but we don’t have any. It was really fun working with Carey and his team. We had a blast. We now have our little piece of paradise.”
Patra Taylor is a Charleston-based writer.