Long, wide views of the Kiawah River, peeks of the private Tom Fazio-designed River Course, a lush natural border of maritime forest—this serene property in Kiawah Island’s Settlement enclave had everything a buyer could desire for a second-home site. And as often happens with waterfront properties, it came with a few quirks that required some creativity to produce the home this couple envisioned. In this case, a team of proven professionals would bring to bear solid craftsmanship and out-of-the-box thinking to make the project a success.
The homeowners pulled together that team with ease, enlisting the expertise of McDonald Architects and veteran builder Maurice Mangan. His firm, Mangan Inc. Custom Homes, has a more than 20-year track record of building and renovating homes on Kiawah and Seabrook islands.
“Maurice had been recommended to us to do some alterations and repairs on a previous Kiawah house,” notes the homeowner. “His team did such a wonderful job that we didn’t hesitate to call him.”
Well accustomed to dealing with the intricacies of building homes in the South Carolina Lowcountry, the design and build team took in stride the several challenges presented by both the characteristics of the lot and the design standards of Kiawah’s Architectural Review Board (ARB). The property’s truncated shape resembled a wedge of pie, with the narrowest part overlooking the river. Also, since this waterfront lot was located within view of golf greens, it was also subject to ARB guidelines for homes built on the golf course.
“The lot had a fantastic view we wanted to take full advantage of,” says architect Chad McDonald, AIA, who was hired by the homeowners based on the creativity of a design he had drawn for a neighboring project. “The plans we drew angled the master bathroom and lined up the master bedroom, living and dining rooms across the back of the house to maximize the view of the Kiawah River.”
To conform to ARB guidelines, the home was required to conform to a “soft” golf experience. The team minimized the home’s scale by “nestling” down the second story and adding gables and dormers to gain more space horizontally and let in more light. “I strive to let enough natural light into a home so you don’t have to turn on a light switch during day,” notes McDonald. “It’s a much more natural experience for the homeowners.”
In fact, the homeowners’ love of indoor/outdoor living would dictate design details throughout the home. A wide front porch was added to the New England shingle-style design for a coastal Southern feel. The approach to the front steps was embellished with a custom wall fountain, a tranquil focal point for a nearby sitting area. An outdoor living space was integrated into the back porch and pool area adjacent to the kitchen, which extended its utility and created a seamless flow for entertaining. Both the pool and spa decks were dropped 18 inches, putting them on different planes and pulling them out of the interior sight line so the view of the river would be unimpeded.
The homeowners relied on Archetype Interior Design Studio, recommended by Mangan who had worked with the boutique firm in the past. “Maurice had taken us to walk through a few of his houses,” explains one of the homeowners. “When we saw the interior design work in one he’d built in conjunction with Beth Martin Cortopassi and Ann Chandler Pastore, we absolutely loved it. They brought to life our vision of casual elegance and were phenomenal with scheduling and ordering the right things at the right time.”
Restful, seaside-inspired colors were used throughout the home. “Our idea was that the views were part of the décor. You see all the live oaks and amazing sunsets outside the west-facing back of the house,” says one of the homeowners. “We wanted the interior to blend with all that stunning nature.”
“We were careful to select finishes, fixtures and materials fitting the home’s classic shingle style,” says Pastore, “and that were complementary to the beautiful landscape overlooking the Kiawah River.” A neutral palette and rustic elements were enriched by an abundance of custom trim created on-site. “Chad designed it all and then Maurice built it—they did a phenomenal job,” adds one of the homeowners.
“That’s the unique thing about Mangan Custom Homes,” observes McDonald, “they have their own masons, framers, trim and carpentry craftsmen, so they’re able to do a lot of work themselves. They’re very oldschool in that sense and great to work with.”
Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston-based writer.