A Daniel Island family creates a personal paradise inspired by their travels


The 8,600-square-foot, New England-style home on Daniel Island has modern elements and stunning marsh views.

FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE OBSESSED WITH luxurious hotels, coming home can feel like being exiled from paradise. The solution? Build your own resort—and that’s precisely what Ryan Butler’s clients did. Butler, who co-owns SHELTER Custom-Built Living with his wife, Jenny, helped the homeowners envision a private Daniel Island home that incorporates all of the luxurious features they loved in hotels in which they’d stayed here and abroad.

To understand their vision, Butler and his design team met with the clients several times to talk through ideas and walk through his other projects. To draw the plans for their paradise, the homeowners chose architect Damien Busillo from DLB Custom Home Design.

The family room features mahogany inlay paneling and an innovative fireplace that is see-through to the outside. The room overlooks the home’s wraparound front porch.

The result is a stunning, 8,600-square-foot dream home with classic New England-style architecture and modern elements, black metal rails and black steel doors. One of the most original and delightful features of the house is a custom-made wall with a water feature that cascades down the front.

The outdoor living space has a resort-style pool, designed by Aqua Blue Pools, that flows into a man-made stream. The stream filters into a koi pond with a contemporary stepping-stone bridge. The bridge leads to a putting green, which gives way to a firepit area that overlooks the marsh.

The kitchen is built for entertaining with a four-seat island, a generous breakfast 256nook and a dining table tha t seats eight. The stone count ertops are 6 centimeters.

Inside there are five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. As you enter, a well-organized mudroom with built-in lockers keeps the daily detritus of a busy family corralled.

The kitchen is a marvel, with lacquered slab-front cabinets, 6-centimeter-thick stone countertops with a waterfall edge, and Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances. In the family room, mahogany and steel details add depth and luxury to the space. The stunning contemporary fireplace is see-through to the outside. The entire fireplace surround is wrapped in steel with a clear powder coat. The family room ceiling has three dark dropdown panels with mahogany and steel inlay that matches the fireplace surround. The panels also have LED lighting that creates a soft ambience in the evenings. Large accordion doors open a massive 18 feet to the back porch.

A custom-built wall in the entry has a waterfall feature to welcome guests. The black steel doors lend a modern feel to the classic New England architecture.

The family of four are movie buffs and football fans, so a luxurious media room was essential. This room has mahogany built-ins with steel inlays and theater chairs. The windows have automated, roll-down blackout shades, so the picture from the projection TV is never dulled.

Also downstairs is the exquisite master bedroom and
bath. This incredible architectural and design masterpiece virtually demands that you relax. The bed wall has custom-designed, hand-painted Venetian plaster panels with brass inlay surrounds. If you’re not relaxed enough already, a steel staircase leads to a loft lounge where no stress is allowed—there’s even a water station with beverage center. The master bathroom has high-gloss floating vanities, and the custom-designed tile has a copper inlay that plays off of the copper-colored glass tiles in the shower.

The master bedroom has hand-painted plaster panels and brass inlay surrounds. Stairs lead to a loft lounge with a water station and beverage center.

Generous his-and-her custom closets complete the master suite. Her wardrobe, a glamorous enclave even Coco Chanel would envy, has white, glossy lacquer cabinets with an illuminated quartzite center island. The island is the
ideal place to organize clothes and accessories to pack for vacation, should the homeowner ever decide to leave her paradise again.

Lucky guests get to stay in the downstairs guest suite, complete with vaulted ceilings, a breathtaking chandelier and steel beams that span the width of the room.

The master bathroom is clean and contemporary with floating vanities and copper inlay tile.

Upstairs there are two kids’ bedrooms, each with unique features. The first bedroom has contemporary geometric trim, built-in cabinets and a desk. The other has a built-
in loft bed with custom-made wall niches for charging electronics. The playroom has a pool table, reclaimed wood wall and beams, built-ins, reclaimed wood floating shelves, and a steel barn door leading to a powder room. There is another guest room upstairs, plus a laundry with sink and plenty of counter space.

The hardworking second floor also hosts the homeowner’s office. This masculine room has steel features, wood paneling, built-ins and a bathroom.

The resort-style swimming pool flows into a stream that filters into a koi pond above the putting green.

A dream home like this requires an entire team of experts, and teamwork happens to be Butler’s expertise. “The design aspect of building a home is just as important as everything else,” Butler says. “There are thousands of details that need to be figured out over and above a set of plans.”

When the Butlers started SHELTER in 2013, they knew right away they wanted to oversee all of the details of the homes they built from start to finish. They engage an outside interior designer to be the creative director and have a full-time designer on staff. Her responsibility is to coordinate design selections and ensure the client’s vision is documented and executed. All of this is included in the cost of building a home.

Ryan Butler is a second-generation custom homebuilder, who learned early on that a commitment to integrity and respect is the path to standing out in the construction industry. His dedication has paid off with accolades that include being named a top 10 custom homebuilder in South Carolina and one of the 50 best modern builders in the United States by Home Builder Digest and multiple Prism awards for single-family construction excellence at all price points.

SHELTER is unique because, typically, it is engaged in the process before the client decides on an architect. Butler often helps his clients find the perfect lot and oversees all the up-front work necessary to design a custom home. By having the builder and the architect in the same room early in the process, he can help the client value engineer as they go. “We can design and build a luxurious home and maintain a budget,” Butler says.

Though the client had a clear vision for what they wanted on this home, they leaned heavily on Butler and his design-build team for expertise. In the end, this home full of five-star details took a full two years to build. Was it worth it? “Absolutely,” Butler says. “The family loves the house, and they love all the one-of-a-kind finishes and details of their home.”

Now, with their very own five-star property, the family may never want to leave home again. *

Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at

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