The story behind this stunning remodel in the exclusive Old Village of Mount Pleasant reads like an episode on HGTV: A young couple zeroes in on the neediest house in the best neighborhood and with assurances from a crack renovation team, looks past the sagging floors and aging beams, and transforms it into their dream home.
“We really wanted to be in the Old Village,” says homeowner Anna Shuford, “and loved the street. Charleston Harbor is just beyond the homes behind us so we knew we could walk to the water and there would be an extra breeze. The lot is largely what we were drawn to.”
The age of the 3,500-squarefoot house worked for and against it. Built around 1835, its colonial-period style was similar to the character-filled home of Shuford’s youth in Columbia, South Carolina. But the design and build team would face challenges created by a crumbling infrastructure, dated layout and need of additional space for the Shufords’ family of five.
“I could see beyond the condition of the house, but there were some periods of buyer’s remorse,” admits Shuford. “I thought, wow, this is a big project.”
Through industry referrals, the Shufords enlisted Charleston- area professionals who embraced their vision. The challenge was to balance respect for the historical nature of the property with the need to have a contemporary, functional home. Architect Darryl Cobb, AIA, NCARB, drew up preliminary plans that informed the couple’s decision to embark on the renovation. They quickly brought on builder Rob Crawford, whose firm, Renaissance South Construction Co., is the recipient of dozens of awards, including the PRISM Best Built Single Family Home: $1,000,000, Remodeling Magazine’s Big 50, and Remodeler of the Year. Both Cobb and Crawford specialize in custom homes and renovations.
Interior design firm Beauregard Design also came to the project early. Its collaborative team—Sabrina Williams, Anna Rankin and Whitney Cole— brainstormed with Shuford on finishes and décor choices to enhance her family’s busy lifestyle.
The renovation got underway with an almost total gutting of the nearly 200-year-old house. On projects such as this, Crawford says Renaissance South strives to use period-accurate techniques, and he consults with the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston for expert guidance in artisan craftsmanship. “You have to use the right people in a historic renovation,” he says, recalling how they took pains to re-point crumbling mortar in several fireplaces with limestone instead of portland cement to ensure the historical bricks would not crack.
Much of the existing floor system was structurally unsafe, held together by only surface flooring. Once stabilized, the original heart pine flooring the couple loved was restored, using wood salvaged from the third floor when necessary. Timeworn 19th-century balloon framing was shored up by incorporating current framing methods. And a new detached garage was designed to be indistinguishable from the existing historical structure.
It was important to the Shufords to have a wide, welcoming porch in order to feel a connection with the pedestrian-friendly Old Village neighborhood. “We added a dormer to the existing two for additional square footage and aesthetics,” says Cobb, “and were able to grow the porch and get everything approved by the Architectural Review Board.”
The couple’s love for a traditional lifestyle is also reflected in their collection of cherished, family antiques. The interior design team brainstormed to integrate modern pieces with the old, always staying true to the architecture of the home. “We never forget that people live in their homes—they’re not just showcases,” says Williams, whose team measured every piece to ensure all would fit into the house.
Renaissance South’s selections coordinator Anne Harris provided an essential bridge between the designer and the Shufords.
“It turned out exactly as we envisioned,” say the Shufords, all smiles.
Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston- based freelance writer and marketing consultant.