For big-city dwellers, who often spend a majority of their time in the shadow of concrete and high-rises, Kiawah Island is a place of renewal, an escape to the serenity of the natural world. For the owners of this “beach house,” perched at the edge of Kiawah’s wildlife-rich marshlands, this was especially true. “We spend a lot of time traveling for work, so this is definitely a respite for our family,” says the wife. The well-traveled couple and their teenage son have spent time on many of the world’s best beaches, but when their son proclaimed Kiawah’s beach the best ever, they knew this would be their “happy place.”
“We wanted a home that exemplified the Kiawah and Lowcountry lifestyle—relaxed, authentic, but still elegant and uncompromising in quality,” says the husband. “This home is comfortable, first and foremost, yet elegant and timeless. It makes the most of the spectacular marsh surroundings!”
Builder Ryan Buck of R.M. Buck Builders led the construction of the 5,427-square-foot Lowcountry shingle-style home with his usual know-how and expertise. “We’ve been building custom homes on Kiawah and the surrounding islands for nearly 30 years,” says Buck, who works alongside his mother and father in the family business. “We offer an unmatched level of expertise in craftsmanship and woodwork.”
With an abundance of shiplap wood walls, wood ceilings and custom millwork, the home has a “meticulous attention to every last detail,” says the husband. “We love the quality of workmanship in this home.”
All the cabinetry in the house was built by R.M. Buck’s sister company, Island Cabinet Company. “All cabinets are custom,” says Buck. “The integration is seamless. Because we build our own furniture-grade custom cabinets, that really ties in with the quality of the millwork.”
Outside, radiused, or curved, metal roofing elements give the house extra style and curb appeal. Inside, shiplap walls easily transition to built-in cabinetry. “The cabinets are part of the wall and part of the trim,” says Buck.
Shiplap walls and seamless casework throughout the house offer lived-in elegance. In the kitchen, inset cabinets are “more labor intensive and require a finer finish, but provide a clean, custom look,” says Buck.
The screened porch, a favorite place for family gatherings, features a pine ceiling with decorative oak beams and an outdoor fireplace with matching oak mantel. “It’s finished off as beautifully as the interiors,” notes interior designer Rebekah Carter of Red Element Design, who played a key role in all the home’s interiors.
“Building beautiful exterior spaces is becoming commonplace for us,” adds Buck. A short wall with a cable rail protects the porch view. Tongue and groove ipe decking adds to this big, comfortable outdoor space.
The kitchen, where Carter did much of the design, features floating shelves built by Island Cabinet Company to lighten cabinet-heavy walls and add a clean, modern look. “We installed heavy-duty metal brackets early on during construction,” says Buck. The mudroom beyond has floating doors, more cabinetry and storage.
Bathrooms throughout the home strike an elegant note with wainscoting and footed vanities. “We build exactly as designed,” says Buck. R.M. Buck Builders has a family approach led by his dad, who has been building for more than 50 years. Buck says the company is unlike any other in the business.
“We’ve built many homes on Kiawah, in tight setbacks and within the trees as designated by the Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board (ARB),” says Buck. “Those are standard procedures for us. We have a lot of experience in that space, and that’s a real benefit.”
The company includes a property management and maintenance division that provides services for their homeowners on Kiawah, Seabrook and the surrounding islands. “Ryan and his team understand the notion of uncompromising quality as well as the balance of design and function, while staying on time and on budget,” says the husband. “They are first-class in every regard.”
“We wanted something that would endure for generations,” Buck notes. “From the quality of the wood and hardware to the artisanal handcraft of the cabinetry and finishes, this home has it all.”
M.S. Lawrence, a writer and journalist, lives in Charleston.