A new home on Nowell Creek maximizes the indoor-outdoor connection

by DANA W. TODD / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

A standing seam metal roof and deep bracketed overhangs peg this as a “Coastal Modern” home.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this serene scene: a rural-like landscape with moss-draped live oaks swaying in the slight breeze, the salt marsh croaking with tree frogs, the calm rustling of spartina growing on the edges of the tidal creek. Now open your eyes and experience the peace of wading egrets; the gliding V-formation of brown pelicans overhead in the blue sky, making their way to a regular fishing hole to dive for lunch; or catch a glimpse of a rail bird weaving among the grasses and tending to its young. Surrounded by such a coastal wetland environment is a heavenly place to call home.

For one South Carolina couple, the private, gated community of Beresford Hall on Nowell Creek provides the oasis they imagined for an idyllic home. Although there are about 200 homesites in the community, they are spread over more than 600 acres on large estate-sized lots. Hundreds of grand oaks and the accompanying sounds, smells and sights of Lowcountry creeks and marshes are a counterpoint to Beresford Hall’s long list of modern amenities: a community boat ramp, deep-water dock, parks, sport courts, a dog park, picnic areas, and eight miles of walking trails and sidewalks.

Good things come in threes. The main kitchen, a working scullery and an outdoor kitchen are all steps from each other and ease the work of entertaining a crowd.

Modeled after a coastal fishing village, Beresford Hall has a storied past. The land’s original owner, Richard Beresford, was a South Carolina lieutenant governor in 1783 who actively participated in the American Revolutionary War and was an elected member of the Continental Congress.

With such captivating scenery nearby, custom builder Steven Kendrick of Structures | Alair built this coastal modern home to take full advantage of the setting. Architect Phil Clarke of Clarke Design Group angled the home’s footprint to face the sweeping exterior views while maintaining an approachable, although not straight on, position toward the street front.

Outdoor living is as important as the interiors in this five-bedroom, six-bathroom home on the banks of deep-water Nowell Creek. With more than 5,100 heated square feet, this home lives large due to expansive outdoor living spaces that bump up the size to a total of 13,000 square feet of living and entertaining accommodations. The outdoor space includes multiple porches and patios, a pool and a fireplace. The lower level under the elevated home provides plenty of storage and a garage to park six vehicles, with an adjacent loggia under an upstairs porch as a bonus recreational space.

In the spirit of entertainment that this home embodies, the design team created a wine and lounge nook as a cozy conversation spot; it features a custom-designed brass and glass shelving unit. “It wasn’t in the original plan but evolved as the project progressed,” says designer Kathryn Elliott.

The in-out connection is one of the defining features of the house and falls in line with the homeowners’ wish to have abundant space for entertaining, according to Kendrick. When they slide back the Euro-Wall glass doors connecting the family room to the deep ipe-decked porch, the view continues to the infinity-edge pool and the creek and marsh beyond. Cable railing on nearby elevated porches allows uninterrupted views and adds a modern vibe. A second set of Euro-Wall sliders in the dining room connects to the outdoor kitchen. “Constructing an elevated outdoor living experience is a structural feat,” says Kendrick. “There is plenty of room for furniture but still good circulation for people to move around.”

Bright, light interiors are a hallmark of coastal modern style. In the living room, Euro-Wall glass doors open onto the outdoor living amenities, which double the home’s usable square footage.

Landscape architect Heyward Townsend of Living Designs Landscaping ensured the landscaping flowed with the exterior living for an easy, relaxed feel.

“It was important to the homeowners that we create an indoor-outdoor space that gracefully connects the two,” says designer Kathryn Elliott. “They love to entertain and knew they would have lots of family and friends visiting. A spacious, open floor plan with large slider doors and floor-to-ceiling windows allows them to feel as if they are outside even when inside. When they walk in the front door, they are immediately greeted with peaceful views through the house and out to the landscape beyond.”

Elliott works for Structures | Alair as a designer and in that role helped the homeowners choose the building finishes, such as fixtures, cabinetry, hardware and appliances. Since she also owns her own firm, Kathryn Elliott Interiors, she helped them furnish the home inside and out with fabrics and furniture that fit their lifestyle, advising them how to work in furniture they already owned. By taking advantage of Elliott’s position as an in-house designer with Structures | Alair and combining that with her expertise as an independent designer, they enjoyed a continuity of services throughout the construction and installation processes. “Having an in-house designer in a custom homebuilding company is a unique setup that benefits our clients. Kathryn was able to provide so much more than just helping them choose finishes from a showroom. The process was easier because they had one less person to coordinate with on design decisions,” Kendrick says. With Elliott’s integration into the construction process, she also was able to help the homeowners make choices that were mindful of the budget.

The indoor and outdoor dining rooms mirror each other on opposite sides of a Euro-Wall glass door. The designer sourced modern light fixtures throughout the home from Visual Comfort and Lowcountry Lighting Studio.

The focus on entertainment continues in the interior of the home, with light-filled spaces and a free-flowing, open layout. The kitchen overlooks the main living and dining areas so the chef feels part of ongoing conversations during a party or family gathering. The kitchen’s large Calacatta Venice Jumbo quartz-topped island incorporates a sink so prep and cleanup can be conducted while facing the family room. Its workhorse design includes extra storage and also incorporates custom molding details. The quartz continues as a solid slab backsplash behind the Wolf range and into the adjacent scullery. It replicates the look of Italian marble with increased durability to withstand the wear and tear of time.

With a kitchen full of commercial appliances and a scullery and pantry located behind the main kitchen, the home is well equipped to feed large groups of people. Painted inset cabinetry doors, which also cover the Sub-Zero built-in refrigerator, feature solid brass hardware in both the main kitchen and the working scullery. The functional scullery is strategically positioned to serve both the indoor and outdoor kitchens and is accessible to any form of entertaining the hosts want to do.

Custom details epitomize Structures | Alair homes and give this home its joie de vivre. The kitchen’s lighting and range hood move out of the realm of pure function and are personalized to match the homeowners’ unique perspective. Jewelry, such as the eye-catching bar pendants from Visual Comfort and customized vent hood, ensure the home is wholly dedicated to the homeowners’ design aesthetic.

Four bedrooms plus a bunk room ensure there is plenty of space for hosting a bevy of family and friends.

Another defining feature is the wine room and lounge area tucked beside the stairway in a nook off the main family room. “We created custom brass hanging shelves above an elegant Calacatta Namibia marble waterfall countertop bar that has so much character,” says Elliott. The homeowners display colorful glassware on the brass shelves, while around the corner is a more substantial wall wine rack and open cabinetry to hold plenty of extra stock. Solid brass fixtures and a brass Visual Comfort sputnik-style chandelier accent the space. “They can sit here in four comfortable chairs and have a conversation away from the main living area. It is a quaint space that grabs attention,” Elliott adds.

Yet another memorable feature is the stair tower in the center of the house. A three-story architectural element, its open rails, black spindles, huge chandelier and vaulted, planked ceiling immediately draw attention. Shiplap walls and black aluminum-clad windows add a modern touch. Clerestory windows surrounding the stairwell flood it with light.

White oak flooring, sculptural chandeliers and a unified color palette tie both levels of the home together to send a cohesive design message. Calming neutrals interspersed with hues of blue and pink appear in specific rooms personalized for the occupants. Since the homeowners run a business, they each need a home office. In one office, Elliott employed fun pink wallpaper, while in another she used Farrow & Ball’s ‘Inchyra Blue’ paint to make a bold and mysterious statement. A pink bedroom—complete with a pink chandelier—and bathroom contrast with another bathroom painted a soothing shade of marine-inspired blue for variety and interest.

Brass hardware and fixtures continue in the primary suite. A freestanding tub for soaking is a place for winding down.

“As recent empty nesters, the couple wanted the home to be both comfortable for two people as well as serve as the ultimate retreat when the kids come back to visit,” Clarke says. “It is a generational home, where there is plenty of comfort for sleeping a crowd and having them hang out.”

The homeowners carefully planned the home’s functionality, even anticipating tomorrow’s needs. They added a bunk room for future grandchildren. It, like every other room, has creek and marsh views. With the primary and guest suites on the main floor and two additional bedrooms and the bunk room on the upper floor, the home is organized to achieve an enjoyable environment no matter the crowd size. When only the homeowners are home, they can completely live on the first level, but when children and grandchildren visit, the footprint becomes much more livable with the extra sleeping accommodations on the upper floor.

While hosting and entertaining are important to the couple, so too is their comfort. In the primary bathroom, Italian marble look-alike Venato polished porcelain tile is sophisticated yet low maintenance. Large format 24-by-48-inch tiles on the shower walls coordinate with a matte version of the same porcelain in a different size on the floor. Brass hardware and fixtures—a theme of the home—continue in the primary suite. A freestanding tub for soaking is a place for winding down.

Clarke says it’s vital for a Lowcountry home’s design to feel like it belongs in the landscape but also responds well to the climate. Coastal climates can be harsh, so the design and construction team took steps to ensure the homeowners have minimal maintenance to keep the home’s exterior looking its best. High-quality Hardie Artisan horizontal fiber cement siding and Boral vertical siding, made of poly-ash, look like traditional wooden lap siding while providing more resilience and imperviousness to the elements. NuCedar shakes are made of PVC and provide an aged look. A standing seam metal roof and powder-coated aluminum stairs resist the effects of saltwater for continuous good looks. In addition to these materials, deep bracketed overhangs on the exterior contribute to a coastal-friendly aesthetic.

Deep, elevated porches spill down toward an infinity pool overlooking the creek and marsh. Cable railings offer clear views in all directions.

Structures | Alair built the house during COVID, a time of turmoil and transition. Fear was rampant, and the supply chain became unreliable. Structures | Alair found creative ways around the issues, all brainstormed and communicated regularly to the homeowners via Zoom. Unable to see houses previously built by Structures | Alair in-person, the couple relied on advice from their architect and the builder’s 25-year track record of taking good care of their clients to select the company. “We have honed our process over the years,” Kendrick says. “We are known for our attention to detail and weekly verbal and written communication with clients.”

The couple wanted to stay within their budgeted amount, which meant there were design changes. The team rolled with the punches, creatively making changes to meet budget requirements while still achieving most of the homeowners’ wish list. “We redesigned the foundation so they could park more cars under the house when they had to eliminate a detached garage,” Kendrick says. “Having in-house design services also provided more budget certainty for these homeowners because Kathryn had participated in setting the design budget up front. This helped her to be more mindful of it every step of the way.”

“I love so much about this project,” Elliott says. “I love how we were able to create individual spaces for the homeowners to enjoy and that we accomplished giving them a beautiful home with an equally stunning outdoor space to entertain.”

The family had an opportunity to take advantage of the builder’s enhanced industry relationships through a new partnership with Alair™. Structures | Alair was formerly known as Structures Building Company. It became affiliated with Alair in 2020, a company founded in British Columbia, Canada, with a focus on bringing top-tier custom homebuilders and remodelers together to build more rewarding businesses. This partnership brings even more resources and opportunities to Kendrick’s clients who are building new homes in the Lowcountry through a wider network of available industry experts.

For this family, quality materials and innovative building techniques delivered a timeless, modern coastal residence that is as relevant today as it will be in 20 years. *

Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.

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