Charleston’s natural environment has always influenced its architecture and interiors: Homes are designed to capture the views, light and breezes, while cool color palettes and organic materials provide a respite from the heat and humidity. Nature plays such a significant role in what we want and need from our homes that without going the extra mile creatively, we risk ending up with the same house as our neighbors.
Steve Guaglianone, third-generation homebuilder and founder of Novella Homes, is a master of using the natural materials we love in innovative ways. Today, we’re going to see his latest project, a Southern-style contemporary home on Captain’s Island, a 100-acre enclave on Daniel Island where marsh and river views dominate the scenery. The 5,500-square-foot residence has six bedrooms and six and a half baths and is a haven for a family with three young kids. “The clients wanted a classic Charleston exterior with a more modern interior,” Guaglianone says. “They wanted high-quality finishes throughout, and they have young children, so they wanted it to be comfortable and family-friendly.”
For this project the builder teamed up with designer Jesse Vickers of JLV Interiors. “We have such a great collaboration with JLV, and Jesse does a fantastic job,” Guaglianone says. Indeed, Vickers and Guaglianone are an exceptional team. Together, they create interiors that are organic without veering into bohemian, global without leaning Scandi and coastal without being nautical or trendy. As we walk through the home, notice how their bold use of black finishes and accents keeps the neutral palette grounded and elegant. One of the design hallmarks of this project is the intentional use of geometry. With few exceptions, shapes are either circles, squares or rectangles. Along with texture, the deliberate and consistent repetition of shapes adds a layer of subtle interest throughout the house.
Another hallmark of the design is that every room has a visual anchor that serves as something for the eye to hold onto. With such majestic views outside and so many beautiful details inside, elements such as the large gray pendants over the kitchen island, the heavy rectangular coffee table in the family room and the warm wood floating vanity in the primary bath tell us where to rest our eyes, or at least where to start looking. The effect is profoundly calming.
Let’s go inside. The first hint of the remarkable attention to detail for which Guaglianone is known is in the wide, bright entry, where a patterned wood floor mimics a large rug. To the left is a formal living room with large-format wallcoverings depicting a tropical scene. To the right is a sitting room with a built-in floating desk that serves as a homework station for the kids. Two closets with custom white oak doors add storage and help contain the necessary detritus of daily life.
In the hall powder room, a custom floating black stone vanity runs the length of the wall and provides substance and style to a room that is frequently an afterthought.
Novella’s kitchens are where Guaglianone’s vision and skill truly shine. In this uncluttered, serene space, there are no upper cabinets or shelves to detract from the glorious book-matched stone slabs on the range wall. On the perimeter, the builder used natural white oak cabinets with black countertops and white painted cabinets with a porcelain countertop on the island. A stucco vent hood lends just a bit of California cool, while two large gray pendants over the island nicely contrast the beautiful earth tones.
On the left wall, a lighted steel cabinet with pull-out drawers and fluted glass doors is flanked by a built-in refrigerator and freezer on either side. Large appliances are hidden behind white oak panels with no hardware to break up the lines, a small touch that has an enormous impact. Through an archway to the left, a bright galley-style scullery provides extra storage for food and kitchen gear, a workspace to keep the kitchen clean while entertaining, small appliances, an extra dishwasher and an ice maker.
The kitchen and breakfast niche are open to a cozy family room, which are united by warm white oak ceiling beams. In the living room, two sofas face a fireplace with rectangular herringbone tiles and a stack of round balls instead of faux logs. Arched openings to the hallway line up with exterior windows to frame a massive, ancient live oak. The breakfast niche and family room overlook an outdoor living room with a fireplace and dining room.
Through the arches in the family room, floor-to-ceiling windows create a light-filled hallway that links the primary bedroom to the main living area. The bedroom is expansive without feeling cavernous, with white oak beams, wide-plank flooring and a large row of windows that make the most of the marsh views. Between the bedroom and bathroom, a lighted dressing table and built-in cabinet create a separate space to get dressed. In the primary bath, a custom floating vanity in warm wood tones is the perfect foil to the cool white porcelain floor and shower tiles.
At the other end of the bathroom, a generous walk-in closet provides all the storage the homeowners could want, including drawer and cabinet space should they decide to skip having dressers in the bedroom. A stackable washer and dryer in the primary bedroom closet make downstairs laundry convenient for the adults, while an upstairs laundry is convenient for the kid’s laundry.
At the other end of the hall, a stairway leads to the children’s rooms, which are connected by a Jack and Jill bath with a water closet. These rooms have classic, elegant bones that will be conducive to style revisions as the kids grow and their tastes change. A light-filled playroom gives the children their own space and can evolve into an upstairs living room and entertaining area in later years. A home office is tucked into the FROG and features a kitchenette and full bathroom with plenty of space and storage when guests stay.
There are several hardworking rooms in this house, including an exercise room with television that was purpose-built for a Peloton bike, but the most enviable is an organized drop zone off the rear entry that corrals backpacks, shoes and jackets. This room has a floating wood bench that echoes the floating desk in the sitting room, built-in shelving on one side and a built-in hanging cabinet on the other. Lively and colorful geometric floor tiles give the room a young, fun energy.
As a whole, the home is peaceful, sophisticated and remarkably flexible both in functionality and how it will age gracefully with the family and as trends around it change. That’s by design. “We focus on building just a few homes every year because we take great pride in getting every detail just right,” Guaglianone says. “This is a dream home, and we want it to last a lifetime.”
Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.