One of the beloved hallmarks of historic Lowcountry homes is how they’ve been added onto over time. Typically, the mass of the house is up front, but over generations, it begins to sprawl back or sideways, or however the land will accept an addition. The result is a grand entry or a set of formal rooms in front that give way to a cozy, friendly warren of rooms in the back that reflect modern life. These homes are often a record of one family over generations, but they are also a record of our culture, how we lived, and even what the concept of home means through the years.
There’s a lot to love about a home that takes a couple of hundred years to stretch out, but designing additions, blending rooflines and working with decades- or centuries-old materials isn’t easy. What if you could have the comfortable ease of a sprawling historical home with the luxury of planning out the complex aesthetic all at once? That’s the idea behind a new construction home on Captain’s Island.
Designed by Beau Clowney Architects and built by Renaissance South Construction, the home sits on a remarkable lot in the bend of Ralston Creek. The way the house is situated, views stretch over the creek and the marsh, but they also look directly down the creek across land that will never be developed. The home is designed to look like it’s been there for a hundred years, but it also has contemporary, coastal elements that keep it rooted in the present. Built for a couple with grown children and grandchildren, the 4,774-square-foot house has plenty of functionality tucked away inside, including five bedrooms, five and a half baths, a study, a sewing room, a bar, three back porches, an outdoor living and dining area, and a pool house that can double as a guesthouse.
The architectural guidelines for Captain’s Island homes are a blend of Old Village Mount Pleasant and barrier island aesthetics. The house should look like it’s been there, and a home with a broad and meandering footprint is a sophisticated way to achieve it. “In my opinion, this is the best example on Captain’s Island of a home with the added-onto look,” says Rob Crawford, president and owner of Renaissance South Construction.
Entering the property is an experience in itself. The landscaping designed by Sheila Wertimer of Wertimer + Cline Landscape Architects includes glowing gas lanterns along the drive and entry and an intricate medallion set in the pavers. Like the home, the exterior is elegant and welcoming. For interiors, Renaissance South Construction’s selections coordinator, Anne Harris, said the homeowners were decisive and had a good idea of what they wanted, so she served as a sounding board for their ideas. “They chose some fun tile and used different patterns, which always makes things more exciting,” she says. The homeowners stuck with Sherwin-Williams Historic Charleston paint colors. “All of the elements came together really nicely,” Harris adds.
As we enter, the grand foyer has a beautiful wood cross-hatching detail on the ceiling, a bold hint at the craftsmanship that is to come in the rest of the home. The entry is flanked by a formal dining room and sitting room on either side. On entering, the view down the corridor is through the floor-to-ceiling lift-and-slide doors at the back of the house, straight down Ralston Creek.
Past the sitting room and dining room, the floor plan opens to the living room. Expert craftsmanship continues with a coffered ceiling with LED uplighting embedded around the perimeter bays. To the left, in the kitchen, custom cabinets are inset and all appliances are paneled so the cabinets blend. The island comfortably seats five, and the countertops and backsplash are beautiful and practical nonporous porcelain with a matte finish. Off of the kitchen is a breakfast area with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer genuinely remarkable views of Ralston Creek. On either side of the breakfast area, there are generous back porches. The porches and breakfast area ceilings are lower so they tuck into the roofline, giving the impression they were added to the original structure later.
To the right of the living room is the homeowner’s study with a waxed walnut hip-vaulted ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows and some of the best views in the home. Also on the ground floor are an elegant wet bar and butler’s pantry, a laundry room, powder room, a sewing room that can be used as a bedroom and a cozy bunk room that can sleep two.
Upstairs, the primary bedroom occupies over half of the second floor. Situated on top of the living room, this suite provides expansive river and marsh views that are even better than the ground floor due to the elevation. With cabinet rooms on either side of the entry and a sitting area, entering the bedroom feels like entering a suite at a grand hotel. The attached bathroom has a walk-in, glassless and curbless shower, accented tile walls, double vanities and his-and-her closets.
The second floor also has two spacious guest rooms with en suite bathrooms, a sitting area where guests can enjoy the view, and an elevated screened porch with access from the primary bedroom and upstairs hallway.
Outside there is a pool house with a comfortable bedroom and a kitchenette with a sink, refrigerator, dishwasher and full bath. The bird’s-mouth dormer provides 180-degree views of the marsh. The terraced pool splits the difference in the deck surface and landscaped areas and is surrounded by a stone terrace and a covered porch with an outdoor kitchen and dining space. Off of the terraces, two loggias under finished porches provide a shaded seating area and a place to store fishing gear, as well as a freezer for ice. The three-deep and two-wide garage gives the homeowners plenty of parking and storage space.
Thanks to thoughtful architecture and expert craftsmanship, for which both Beau Clowney and the Renaissance Construction team are known, this home feels as if it’s been part of the Lowcountry landscape for decades and functions effortlessly for modern life. It’s the best of both worlds.
Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.