When your eyes first settle on Dr. Jeff Vacirca and Terra Spignardo’s swoon-worthy vacation home on idyllic Daniel Island, you’re immediately struck by its uniqueness—yet you can’t quite pinpoint its precise style.
“Interestingly, what most people comment on is the look and feel of the home. They love that it’s not traditional but a more contemporary style than typically seen on the island,” says Vacirca of his attention-grabbing waterfront home primely positioned in the Captain’s Island neighborhood. The couple garnered design inspiration from island homes they’ve vacationed in, from Turks & Caicos to St. Barts, but also fell in love with of-the-minute designs in Singapore. They knew it would take someone highly skilled to execute their complex vision. “We needed a builder who had the capability to craft the modern style we were trying for,” he continues, “and at the same time, had a history of dependability and amazing craftsmanship.”
They settled on architect Mark Moehring of Archidemic and award-winning Shelter Custom-Built Living to design and craft the 5,500-square-foot, six-bedroom home, which expresses a Lowcountry coastal vernacular executed with a modern hand—and it stands out beautifully in the sea of traditional homes. Contemporary exterior elements, such as large black windows and a nontraditional roof structure, flawlessly intermingle with a brick-slurry finish and flickering gas lanterns, which purposely connect the home to Charleston’s historical architecture. A custom aluminum wall scrim not only adds privacy but an architectural element, as its matte black louver panels mimic local plantation-style shutters on a grander scale.
“Archidemic did a phenomenal job of marrying both modern and historical elements, bridging the gap between the homeowners’ desires and what Daniel Island will allow,” says Ryan Butler, founder and owner of Shelter Custom-Built Living, who has 15 years of experience building on Daniel Island. “We set out to create a home that was unique to the island yet introduce many historical elements seen in Charleston.”
Butler was involved in the entire process, from the conceptual design to the finished product, working in tandem with Moehring, landscape architect Remark Studio, designer Mosmi Patel and the homeowners. “I feel the best homes are the homes where a team is assembled very early in the process,” says Butler. “Being involved from the beginning makes for a better product and a more enjoyable process for the client.” His team established a clear design vision that utilized client idea books, vision boards, preselections and a cloud-based software system that documents the entire design and build process. Just as important were constant meetings with the client to monitor the home’s progress.
“As we sit back now and think about the whole process, the weekly walk-throughs were the most fun,” says Vacirca. “The fact that they got everyone on our team together gave us the ability to make changes on the fly and get answers from our builder or architect.”
Step inside the home and you’re met with intricate details and statement pieces at every turn, from wood built-ins and shelving to custom light fixtures sourced from around the world to an innovative Control4 Smart Home system that allows the homeowners to control all of the home’s electrical elements with their phone. Known for its craftsmanship, Shelter uses its in-house carpenters and design team on every build. “It’s not only important to create a one-of-a-kind design, but it needs to be executed by the most talented in the business,” says Butler. “This is what we pride ourselves on when we deliver this consistently for every one of our clients.”
Their talented handiwork is prominently displayed in the striking wine room preordained for storing the homeowners’ vast collection. “We had to figure out the best way to make it aesthetically pleasing as well as functional,” says Butler, whose in-house carpenters fashioned the wall panels, built-ins and trim details, including brass ceiling panels. The adjoining wine bar stands out with a mixture of different textures and materials, such as lacquer cabinets, waterfall Nero Marquina stone countertops and an island made of honed Calacatta Luccicoso marble. Brass and glass shelving speak to the wine room’s brass ceiling panels, and an Astral pendant by Joseph Pagano fashioned with mouth-blown glass and bronze elements punctuates the space. “In addition to all of these materials, we spent a lot of time integrating the lighting,” says Butler. “We used recessed LED tape lighting behind stone and under cabinets, as well as lighting features on wine bottles to help create a nice ambience in the space. It’s feels like you’ve been transported to your own wine bar.”
The double-island kitchen also impresses with its jaw-dropping waterfall countertops enveloped in black-and-white Orca marble. “The clients really liked it because it has so much movement in the stone,” says Butler. Brass details prevail again in the kitchen, with a custom brass hood over the range and accents like brass toe-kicks throughout. Appliances are fully integrated into lacquer cabinets, and some of the more unique features are a charcuterie cabinet with brass mesh doors, a mirrored backsplash in an antique champagne finish and a bar with brass hooks to hang meats.
A handsome office is dressed in masculine features, many of which display the owner’s profession and interests. The room boasts a desk wrapped in Nero Marquina stone with custom-wrapped brass legs, a built-in bookcase with shelving that features brass inlays, and a handcrafted brass ladder built to enhance the floating shelving and design of the bookcase. Ivory leather wallpaper graces the walls while a woven wood wallpaper in a geometric pattern canvases the ceiling for contrast and visual interest. Butler also placed a major focus on lighting, with backlit shelves that spotlight the doctor’s numerous books.
Even the home’s bathrooms have bragging rights to exciting high-design details and various textures. The master bathroom showcases a shower wall and countertops swathed in book-matched slabs of Violeta honed marble tile, while the shower floor and walls surrounding the tub are crafted with Dolomite marble tile. Technology also reigns, with a large window in the shower covered in an electrically charged film that, with the touch of button, fogs over so you can’t see in. The secondary bathrooms are equally as inspiring, with entire walls fitted with handmade Alex Turco acrylic panels that serve as functional pieces of art and add visual interest to the rooms.
Now that the home is complete, the homeowners hope that they’ve inspired others to build something just as distinctive. “With so many people stopping by and wanting to discuss the architecture, I believe we are going to see more and more unique styles,” says Vacirca. And the Shelter team is up for the challenge.
“This was one of the most rewarding houses to finish because of the complexity of the architectural and structural details along with the interior design elements,” says Butler, who’s already looking forward to the next project. “We want to keep building and designing unique homes and ensure that our clients feel their house is one-of-a-kind. It’s nice when we hear people say that we’re best suited to build the home of their dreams.” *
Angela Caraway-Carlton is a Miami-based freelance writer, travel and lifestyle expert, and television producer. Her works have appeared in Indulge Magazine, Time Out, Elysian, Aventura, South Florida Luxury Guide and Modern Luxury Weddings South Florida & the Caribbean. Caraway-Carlton has covered lifestyle trends in South Florida and beyond for more than a decade.