There is something very special about visualizing your dream home and having it come to fruition. This was the case for a Daniel Island couple who wanted to build their ideal family home on scenic Beresford Creek. They enjoyed the style and aesthetic of a previous Novella Homes build, so they decided to trust the owner, Stephen Guaglianone, and his process for building their dream custom home.
Guaglianone is a third-generation homebuilder who grew up working for his father on summer breaks during high school and college. After college, he worked as a project manager, mastering every aspect of homebuilding. Though Guaglianone moved to Charleston in 2012 from his native home in Virginia, he believes in being an active and loyal part of the communities in which he builds. Guaglianone lives on Daniel Island, and many of his clients have become neighbors and friends.
Decades of experience mean Guaglianone is innately innovative; he doesn’t want to build the same home twice, and he’s always thinking about how to push the envelope subtly. Novella has a reputation for teaming up with the best architects, designers and tradespeople in the business—all of whom share Guaglianone’s passion for innovation. The result are homes with personality and no disconnect between architectural vision, execution and interior design. For clients who want a fresh take on traditional Charleston and island style, Novella’s homes are different enough to be pleasantly unique without disrupting what we all love about Lowcountry living.
Designed by Damien Busillo of DLB Custom Home Design and built by Novella Homes with interiors by JLV Creative, this 5,320-square-foot, contemporary coastal-style home has four bedrooms, five baths, two half baths, an office and a media room. The house is nestled into groves of ancient live oaks on the right and left sides, and the back faces Beresford Creek, a wide tidal stream that drains into Charleston Harbor. The clients wanted a clean, minimal aesthetic, organic finishes and furnishings, and functional, casual living with room to entertain guests. Beyond that, they trusted the team to do their thing.
“It was a big selling point for the client to have a team that functions so well together,” Guaglianone says. “Because we worked as a team from the start, we could iron out all of the small but important details, such as making sure floor outlets are in the right spots and the sconces are the right height; we could plan the orientation of desks to windows, and furniture placement. JLV helped them choose all the furniture, and they did a great job.”
The house is comprised of a central structure with a traditional coastal farmhouse vibe and a long connecting structure with a lower roof leading to a wing that’s home to the office and the owner’s bedroom and bath. The exterior is clad in HardiePlank siding in contrasting gray and white, highlighting the juxtaposed sections. The unique shape makes it feel like a family home that’s been extended over time, a common practice in the Lowcountry. There are no neighbors visible on three sides, and the house is set back off of the main drive, so it’s quiet and private.
This is an elevated house, so to enter, we ascend a double set of narrow stairs that leave us in front of a long window under a small gabled roof, a touch that reads like a nod to Charleston’s traditional architecture. A few steps to the right and the front porch expands into a wide, welcoming space with a double black steel entry door flanked on either side by two matching windows and gas lanterns in contemporary steel and glass boxes. Once inside, the exterior entry design makes perfect sense. With the staircase off to one side, natural light pours through the unobstructed doors and windows, illuminating most of the first floor.
While the entries of most open-plan homes put you in the action right away, here, we’re greeted by a magnificent feature wall, a geometric masterpiece made of white oak rectangles inset with oak rectangles with curved corners the color of aged dock wood. In between, small black squares march in a neat horizontal line. Behind this wall is the kitchen, but the entry gives us a minute to collect ourselves before we check out the unique, floating four-sided glass fireplace that separates the kitchen from the family room.
Sitting horizontally between the kitchen and living area, the fireplace divider is three-fourths creamy white stucco wall and one-fourth clear glass surround, like a giant fish tank, sitting on a base of subtly veined marble. “This was the first four-sided fireplace we’ve ever done. We had to suspend steel from the ceiling so the chimney hood would also be suspended, and then the fireplace base was built underneath. It’s such a showpiece. When you walk in the front door, my intent was that you see this amazing, vast view of the marsh and river through the fireplace. It’s a great visual and gives the room a beautiful contemporary design,” Guaglianone says.
Shiplap runs vertically instead of horizontally in the family room, which is another way the builder puts a contemporary spin on a traditional feature. Tall windows overlook a grove of ancient live oaks to the side. In South Carolina, many tree species, including live oak and white oak, are protected; if they’re healthy, builders must work around them carefully.
Overhead, white oak beams stained a warm chestnut run the ceiling length. Custom cabinets inset in the front wall provide storage, while an elevated, windowed cabinet in the middle is perfect for showcasing treasures and contemporary objets d’art that add to the home’s personality. The television is mounted on the family room side of the fireplace wall, detached from the room’s clean aesthetic yet perfectly functional for movie night.
Most of the back of the home is taken up by a 30-foot wall of multi-slide Euro-Wall doors that push back to erase the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. When they’re open, it’s as if they were never there—there isn’t even a sill to step over. When they’re closed, the massive windows bring the blue and green water and marsh views into the conversation.
In the kitchen, an expansive island that seats four serves as both a worktop and a place for casual meals. The two corners facing the front of the home are rounded and mimic the rounded rectangles in the feature wall. An inset cooking niche with side shelves, a recessed vent, marble backsplash and pot filler give this spacious room a cozy Italian cucina feel. Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances and pantry storage are tucked away behind white door panels to the left. Two square pendant lights with half-round cutouts holding frosted glass bowls hang over the island.
The dining area is open to the kitchen and living room and is large enough to seat 10. Most of the side and back walls are home to banks of windows that nearly touch in the corner, providing unobstructed views of the creek in the back and another of the grove of live oaks to the side.
The sliding glass wall opens to an expansive outdoor kitchen and pool deck. Behind the living room are a built-in grill, Big Green Egg and undercabinet refrigerator. A long table provides seating for eight. The pool mimics the shape of the house and is elevated to the same level as the main living areas. To create the elevated pool, Guaglianone constructed piers under the pool shell, so it floats in the air on top of them. “It’s a lengthy process, but it’s worth it. We had the surveyor come out several times during the build because I wanted the pool to be exactly flush with the decking, and the decking to be perfectly flush with the front porch. From the front door to the pool, I didn’t want there to be any steps up or down, or anything to step over,” Guaglianone says.
Elevated pools are a hallmark of Novella’s design when it makes sense for the home. “I love elevated pools because it looks like the water is floating, and then, because the river is beyond the pool, it extends the view, so it looks like the water never ends. It’s also a great family environment; the kids don’t have to go down the stairs to get to the pool, and you don’t lose sight of them from the deck or main living areas,” Guaglianone says.
There is a fifth full bathroom here, convenient for guests and keeping wet bathing suits out of the house. “JLV did a great job designing the pool bathroom—there are tiles on the ceiling and walls and a main center drain, so it’s a full-on wet room. It’s very convenient and easy to maintain,” Guaglianone says.
To the right of the kitchen, a hallway leads to a hidden scullery door and the owner’s wing, which has an office, laundry and the primary bedroom and bathroom. In front of the kitchen, a floating steel and wood staircase designed by Southern Staircase floats over a reading nook below. “There’s a tree here and beautiful white oak benches, so there’s some life,” Guaglianone says. “It’s a wonderful place to read with a blanket.”
From the front of the house, you can see the long glass hall that leads to the owner’s wing. The first door to the right is an office with custom built-in cabinets and shelves painted deep black to contrast the room’s white walls and wood tones. “The homeowner wanted it to be sleek,” Guaglianone says. “It’s all about the view from his corner window looking out to the marsh and the creek. Because it’s on the owner’s side of the house and the walls are insulated, it’s very quiet and peaceful.”
Further down the hall, a slight jog takes us to the owner’s bedroom, where we get a little more of the cool California aesthetic Novella is known for. “We always try to incorporate an East Coast/West Coast blend,” Guaglianone says. “This client was perfect for that because they were so open to ideas from the professionals. JLV and Novella always gravitate toward that style because it’s clean, it’s organic, and it’s so livable for a family. Sometimes contemporary can go very cold and stark, so the blend is about warming up the home; West Coast contemporary gives you that warmth.”
Wide white oak planking underfoot makes the room feel streamlined, while natural wood ceilings and beams and high white walls add a hacienda vibe. An expansive closet eliminates the need for clothing storage in the bedroom, making way for a conversation area in front of the window with two swivel chairs with rounded backs.
Unusual details are part of what sets Novella’s projects apart, and the owner’s bathroom is a prime example of how Guaglianone and his creative partners think out of the box. Here, natural wood cabinets with channel cutouts instead of knobs or pulls float over the marble floor, and a formed concrete counter and double sinks run the length of the space.
A wide single mirror framed in black replaces the traditional double mirror and floats in front of a wall of vertically ridged glass. The glass admits natural light while giving the room the required privacy. The vanity space opens to a second room with board-and-batten walls, a deep soaking tub and a generous zero-entry shower. The shower has white penny tile on the floor with oversize porcelain wall tiles in shades of white, blue and green with cloud-like swirls that look like a gathering storm. There are two matte black overhead rain showers, two handhelds and two wall-mounted showerheads.
Back down the hall and up the floating stairs, we find a media room and three bedrooms. The media room, with a slider that opens to the second-story porch and killer views, is a favorite place to hang out. “This is such a fantastic room, and it has amazing custom furniture with low-level couches that piece together. On one side, you can watch TV; on the other, you can look out to marshes and creeks,” Guaglianone says. The room also has a large Andersen window slider leading to a peaceful, serene back deck, perfect for watching the sunset.
“I love how the owners really trusted us to design and build a product that is timeless and desired in Charleston,” Guaglianone says. “We feel very fortunate to have worked with such a wonderful family, and throughout the building process, we continuously strove to make sure the home plans fit their specific lifestyle and needs. We love hearing from the client that every detail of their dream home was achieved.”