This architect designed an ultra-personalized home with an eye on the future


Design a super-modern home and drop it in a super-traditional neighborhood? Check. Architect Damien Busillo of DLB Custom Home Design has been there, done that.

But designing a home customized for career professionals who required spaces devoted purely to professional use and entertainment? It was a design challenge that would require plenty of foresight on Busillo’s part.

“I was mindful of the fact that if the day ever came to sell, I needed the spaces to be flexible and able to morph into other uses,” says Busillo, a Savannah College of Art and Design graduate who uses 3-D virtual technology to bring designs and details to life. “As career-driven professionals, the owners were adamant about having the home cater to their needs and style. They wanted to be able to work from home and have big gatherings in spaces overlooking the Ravenel Bridge and the marshes of the Cooper River. They were not concerned about making the home family-friendly or particularly useful for the next buyer.”

Busillo threw himself into the design of the uber-personalized project, all the while determining how it could be tweaked for other needs. “It was a challenge because I designed it in a way that was so customized, yet I had to make sure it could be reconfigured and make sense to a new owner,” he says.

FeatureDLBver3-Image-1This sleek and contemporary 5,000-square-foot house includes a glass stair tower, multi-tiered roof system and shadow-box louver design.
FeatureDLBver3-Image-2The open staircase features metal cable railing and walnut stairs.
FeatureDLBver3-Image-3Architect Damien Busillo designed the home’s spaces to frame and maximize views of the Cooper River. Industrial-style doors give the space an edge.

He sized the couple’s two home offices so they could eventually be bedrooms large enough to accommodate king beds and closet space. Bathrooms were not en suite but were across the hall. Busillo configured them so walls could encapsulate and connect them to the bedrooms. What had been a yoga studio (with a built-in Murphy bed) could be transformed into a future guest suite. When the 5,000-squarefoot house with one master bedroom did eventually go on the market, it sold for the asking price in seven days—to a family with three kids.

Design a house with one purpose for now and another later. Check.

Like he’s done before on behalf of clients seeking a sleek, contemporary design, Busillo faced the hurdle of getting approval from the local architectural review board.

FeatureDLBver3-Image-4In the kitchen, polished chrome, natural quartz, frosted glass and white oak create a clean canvas for preparing and enjoying meals.
FeatureDLBver3-Image-5Beyond the built-in bar is a discreet and tucked-away office space, conveniently located near the kitchen.

FeatureDLBver3-Image-6Light spills into the second floor stairwell and landing from an abundance of stacked windows.

“I’ve designed modern homes for traditional neighborhoods, but this was different. It’s a contemporary interpretation of coastal living,” says Busillo.

“For starters, the imposing stair tower gave the Town of Mount Pleasant’s architectural review board a little heartburn, since it was mainly glass and had a roof design unlike anything in the neighborhood,” he explains. A multi-tiered roof system was necessary to the unique, second-floor ceiling design. The clients did not want flat ceilings, so Busillo paid special attention to creating spaces that worked in tandem with a complex roof system.

Since the home is located in a coastal flood zone, the foundation venting had to meet the code requirements. “There was definitely extra legwork because I was proposing a shadow box louver design, something the town wasn’t accustomed to,” he says. “We had to build mockups and meet with code officials on-site to gain approval. I’m very proud I was able to get one of my contemporary designs into this traditional neighborhood.”

Inside, Busillo designed spaces to frame the outdoor entertaining area. “It was a no-brainer to orient the home to maximize beautiful views across the Cooper River,” he says. With open living and dining room areas, the home features clean lines, white oak floors, a floating fireplace wall and an 18-footlong accordion door that opens onto the deck. The gourmet kitchen has glossy finishes and sleek design details. Polished chrome fixtures, natural quartz countertops and frosted glass tiles add shimmer. The front of the home has a clerestory open staircase with metal cable rail and walnut stairs. Natural light spills into the space and reflects off of the pendant light fixture suspended 30 feet from the ceiling.

“Damien brought incredible skill and creativity to our project,” notes the home’s original owner. “His passion for his craft always shined through and made the process a ton of fun!”

FeatureDLBver3-Image-7In the open living room, a floating fireplace wall is tiled in stone. The eco-friendly bioethanol fireplace did not require a flue, cable or gas connection.
FeatureDLBver3-Image-8The striking reclaimed wood accent wall in the master bedroom serves as a soundproof divider between bedroom and bath.
FeatureDLBver3-Image-9A freestanding tub takes its place in front of a picture window. Busillo added additional windows above the vanity to bring in even more natural light to the well-used space.

M.S. Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Charleston. Email:

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