WE GET TO SEE A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL HOUSES TOGETHER, you and I. But we’ve not seen anything like this. Today, we’re standing in the kitchen of a new beachfront home on the Isle of Palms. The first thing that comes to mind are the words of historian Axel Munthe when he built his iconic house atop the Isle of Capri: “My home shall be open to the sun and the wind and the voice of the sea, and like a Greek temple, there will be light, light, light everywhere!”
With every element designed to be lovely and functional, this is a cozy, comfortable, welcoming home. But with its nearly 180-degree view of waves crashing on the beach, it is also a temple to the joys of living.
This 5,255-square-foot home is the work of architect Bill Huey; the team at Structures Building Company, including owner Steve Kendrick, operations manager Deborah Way, designer Millie Eggert and senior project manager Dave Hargis; and interior designer Jennifer Ferrell of Riverside Designers.
The homeowners asked the team for a house that would be comfortable when it was just the two of them but expansive enough to host family and friends. Having acquired one of the most remarkable land plots on the Isle of Palms, the ocean views had to take center stage.
The homeowners were intimately involved in the design, planning and decision-making process. After meeting with Huey, they met Kendrick and Way from Structures to hash out the design. Eggert stepped in to develop the color palette and help the clients choose flooring, lighting, hardware and other elements. Taking cues from the scenery, the clients and Eggert developed a soothing palette of blues, greens, grays and whites.
Finally, the clients selected Ferrell to help choose furnishings, incorporate artwork and accessories. “I normally provide full-service design, but I trust Structures so much that I know anything they do is going to be beautiful,” she says. The clients were bringing very little from their traditional home in the North, so Ferrell got to start from scratch. “This is a beach house, but it’s also a full-time residence,” she says. “It had to have an aesthetic that met the sophistication of the architecture.”
In the kitchen, Huey designed a contemporary version of an old-world niche that houses a 60-inch Wolf range and soft LED lighting. The inset is clad front to back and bottom to top, including the ceiling, in warm gray quartzite. This is one of several places the designers nudged the clients out of their comfort zones, often to dramatic effect. “They wanted classic design,” Eggert says. “I gave them options but also encouraged them to embrace some new ideas.” Her design beautifully amplifies Huey’s contemporary, unique architecture.
Gray cabinets in the cooking inset contrast nicely with white cabinets in the rest of the kitchen. A prep sink in the island is situated to take in ocean views at the back of the house. Wire panels on the white pantry doors add texture and a bit of farmhouse vibe. Light hardwood floors run throughout the house, keeping the overall aesthetic light and contemporary.
The kitchen has dozens of delightful surprises (such as three hidden step stools for proper heights for rolling dough and reaching the upper cabinets) but none better than what lies behind two innocent-looking pantry doors. The doors are a semi-secret entrance to a scullery, a Victorian-era construct that should be revived in contemporary architecture immediately. The scullery serves as an overflow kitchen, or at least a massive walk-in pantry. Here is floor-to-ceiling storage for staples and serving ware, a second dishwasher, freezer drawers, elevator access to the garage, and a desk for cookbooks and menu planning. The scullery keeps the central kitchen visually clean and is a convenient place for a caterer to set up shop during parties.
Back in the kitchen, notice how the home’s entire back wall is designed to embrace the scenery. Wall-to-wall windows, custom designed by Andersen for Huey, are only mullioned partway down, giving us unobstructed views of the ocean. There is a wet bar with a NanaWall window that passes through to the outdoor deck and dining area. Glass doors in the living room slide open to make the most of the sea breeze.
And, at last, behold the 800-bottle, temperature-controlled wine room with a custom-made corking table. Wooden wine racks run floor to ceiling, and a soft light glows from within the black steel and glass walls. It is a happy den of anticipated joy, and we don’t want to leave, but there’s more to see. Just outside the wine room is a custom wine tasting and game table that seats up to six.
In the living room, Eggert and Ferrell kept colors soft and neutral so the eye easily travels to the view outside. On the far end, Ferrell created a colorful gallery wall from original artwork given to the homeowner by his uncle. Beneath is one of many small seating areas that help the room expand when there’s a house full of guests.
Down the hall is a serene main bedroom. In my opinion, this room is where the soft blue, sea glass green and oyster white color palette earns its keep. With such a big ocean just outside, this is a snuggly room meant to feel protective. If the rest of the house is an anthem, this room softly hums the chorus. It is perfectly sized to be cozy but features double doors that open to a large outdoor living porch with a vaulted ceiling and cupola, fireplace, TV and a view usually only seen in movies. The warm textured ceiling is made of lauhala matting, a design element that came to Huey on a trip to Hawaii.
There is a thread of elegance that runs through the home, but the team amped it up in the main bath. This room is five-star hotel worthy, but even better. The clients wanted an oversize soaking tub wrapped in gray quartzite and his-and-her water closets with frosted glass surrounds. There is a large indoor shower with intricate tile work (hers) and a private outdoor shower (his).
Upstairs, there is a study and four serene bedrooms, each with enviable ocean views; guests won’t have to argue about who gets the best room.
Outdoors, there is a heated pool with spa, a second outdoor living room with a TV and a firepit. J.R. Kramer, principal of Remark Studio, designed beautiful landscaping that perfectly fits the architecture and character of the house.
“Our ability to build beautiful homes begins with our client’s vision and the trust they put in the team they assemble. We were very fortunate to be part of this team, and we couldn’t be prouder of the collaboration and the finished product,” says Kendrick.
The homeowners couldn’t be happier. “The team delivered what we hoped for. The house is both infinitely livable for the two of us and at the same time allows us to have the open space to entertain and house family and friends,” they say. “That’s the beauty of this place; it was perfectly executed.” *
Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.