When this entrepreneurial young couple decided to build their dream home, there was no question where or what it would be. Susan and David Schwartz were already ensconced on Daniel Island and loved the lifestyle of the master-planned sea island community. They envisioned a contemporary-styled home, a family-oriented setting for their two children and a base for Dave’s business with all the resources they required nearby. Very straightforward. Except for one detail: Dave’s passion for cars and a growing collection— a Maserati, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and vintage Chevy, to name a few—which would drive not just a few of the coming decisions.
“We wanted a place where we could build a customized garage,” explains Dave, who had been storing the mint-condition models inherited from his father off-site. Building a structure large enough to accommodate multiple vehicles would require special modifications, starting with an oversized lot—few of which were available. “But then some great parcels opened up,” he continues, “and we jumped on them the day they went on the market.”
Moving forward, the project would require the expertise of an architect, builder and a structural engineer. The couple also desired the unconventional in the design of the home— übermodern, not traditional like many Lowcountry homes. They found a perfect fit in Anita King, owner of ink Architecture. “We interviewed several people,” says Susan. “She was really able to understand our style and draw on our vision.”
Following several more interviews with prospective builders, the Schwartzes were directed to Southeastern Custom Homes through a referral. Owner Lee Blackmon brings more than 15 years of building experience to every project, while his wife, Teresa, provides design expertise that works hand in hand with the construction process.
“They had such a great reputation in the community,” notes Susan. “I also really liked that Teresa was a part of the project. She understood the look I was going for and knew exactly how to direct me and keep in line with my budget, so we really got the best of both worlds.”
“They were very hands-on and made excellent suggestions,” adds Dave. “Lee was very intuitive—he recommended opening up the enclosed staircase. He said, ‘I think you’ll achieve the modern look you’re going for if you float the staircase.’”
“We met twice weekly and went over the plan to get the house on budget,” recalls Lee, whose company’s hallmark is personalized attention. “Our aim is to provide insight based on almost two decades of experience building homes in Charleston. We challenge the plan, the client, to think outside the box.”
The garage was the biggest challenge and required that the couple make several concessions in order to create a three-door, spacious showcase and workspace for Dave’s auto collection.
The team devised a plan to eliminate several columns, thereby providing the extra space necessary for the storage, ease of access and mobility of the cars.
“Anita designed it, and we connected with the engineer to make it more open by implementing steel beams to carry some of the spans,” says Lee.
Very important to the Schwartzes was extending family living space outdoors. The original plan called for an expansive deck and ground level swimming pool. Lee proposed a revision to elevate the pool and turn it into a focal point from both inside and out. This also allowed Susan to keep an eye on the kids.
“We did a full breakdown of how much it would cost and gave them time to think about it,” Lee explains. “When it was finished, they felt that it was one of the best investments they’d made.”
Teresa was on-site as construction unfolded, enhancing the process with input from a design point of view.
“I think about how things are going to both look and function,” she notes. “We are careful to look for opportunities to improve on the plans.”
She points to the openness of the main floor—there isn’t even a foyer—as an example of how the company’s design-build approach functions in tandem. The husband and wife team factored in the positioning of the kitchen counters and island— major installations—so that the placement of furnishings, such as a dining room table, couches and a chandelier, would all fit together and still be separate.
Teresa says it’s all about “having to think forward in a very rough phase of the project.”
“We take our time to make sure we get it right,” Lee concurs. “Making the client happy is more important than adhering to a fixed plan or schedule. Susan and Dave spent a lot of time dreaming about the house when they came to us—and were so excited to see it come together.”
From industrial finishes to hidden appliances and fanciful lighting, the Schwartzes realized their dream for a home that expresses their love for sleek simplicity and a touch of glamour.