This first home built on pristine Eagle Island sets the bar


FeatureOspreyVer3-Image-1This Lowcountry coastal-style home, the first on Eagle Island, features Artisan HardiePlank, a Charleston brick foundation and metal roof.

Patty and Vic Orler felt right at home the first time they saw Eagle Island. Though they each vacationed in different areas of the country while growing up—Vic near the New Jersey shore, Patty near the Minnesota lakes—the undeveloped island in the Cassique neighborhood of Kiawah Island reminded both of idyllic childhood summers. “The pine trees really remind me of my parents’ cabin in Minnesota,” says Patty.

As the first to buy and build on pristine Eagle Island, the couple had their pick of lots. They chose a stunner: a pieshaped piece with 270-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, Kiawah River, Seabrook Island and the 15th green of the Kiawah Island Club Cassique Golf Course.

From the beginning, the Orlers envisioned that their home would be a departure from the norm, both for themselves and the island. To build it they turned, for the second time, to Osprey Construction Company. “We worked with Osprey on our first home on Kiawah. They are a great team with a happy-to-do-it approach,” says Vic.

“We were happy to help the Orlers again with this second home,” says Doug James, who co-owns Osprey Construction Company with Farris Cowart. Osprey has more than 40 years of custom residential homebuilding experience in the coastal areas, mostly on Kiawah and Seabrook.

FeatureOspreyVer3-Image-2The homeowners enjoy expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Kiawah River from their U-shaped deck, which is an extension of the first floor living space.

This time the couple wanted to go a different route and incorporate a style that deviated from the Arts and Crafts style so prevalent on Cassique. Yet they also wanted to respect the existing architecture.

Collaborating with the Orlers’ Chicago-based interior design firm, Gregga Jordan Smieszny, architects Bill Huey + Associates got it right with simple yet elegant design features. The firm worked with Cassique’s Architectural Review Board to come up with a plan. “They pushed in some ways, we pushed in some ways, and all were happy with the outcome,” says Vic.

“The more vernacular, Lowcountry coastal style we chose is very horizontal and felt right for Eagle Island and our lifestyle on Kiawah,” says Patty.

“As this was the first house on Eagle Island, we had a little leeway with architectural interpretation, but we didn’t know exactly what that meant,” says Huey. “The Orlers wanted an infusion of a few styles, including some California influence, with orientation toward the verandas and pool. In the end, we were able to help the Orlers get what they wanted. They made it enjoyable. It was fun!”

FeatureOspreyVer3-Image-3The screened-in porch features PVC and teak furniture by Restoration Hardware, particularly durable in the coastal environment. There’s a large table for dining and comfortable seating at the fireplace for TV viewing.
FeatureOspreyVer3-Image-4The living room has unobstructed views of the marsh. The custom mahogany cabinets are by Gregga Jordan Smieszny; fabrics are by Calvin Fabrics and Perennials Fabrics.
FeatureOspreyVer3-Image-5In the kitchen, contrasting finishes are in a neutral palette. A large island provides plenty of gathering and meal prep space; Sossego bar stools are comfortable and sculptural.

“Doug and Bill Huey’s team, including architect Daniel Beck, really got to know each other working on details like the beautiful and elegant exposed rafter tails,” says Patty. “There was a lot of back and forth among them to come up with the right arc. A lot of precision and communication was involved. They wanted it to look just right and spent a lot of time on it. We are just thrilled with how it turned out.”

Designed in a U shape that embraces the views, the 4,427-square-foot home has a quiet, peaceful interior that takes a back seat to the stunning landscape outside. Low-profile sliding glass doors run the length of the living and dining area. Interior designer Alex Jordan of Gregga Jordan Smieszny chose shiplap walls for a vintage look and hickory floors with a gray stain.

“It’s a very clean and simple interior, very different from other homes we’ve lived in,” says Patty. “There is no crown molding or extra detail.” Jordan kept it restrained by choosing one color for the walls and using the same tiles and flooring in bathrooms. “He didn’t want it to be fussy,” says Patty.

Simple is actually harder to produce the couple learned. The Osprey team worked to execute clean lines throughout the home, including the mitered corners on the HardiePlank exterior. “We were asking a lot with incorporating details like the archway that leads to our master bedroom,” says Patty.

FeatureOspreyVer3-Image-6The serene palette continues in the master bedroom and bath, separated by embrasure doors that display beautiful panels when retracted. Two Robern medicine cabinets are concealed in the framed, mirrored wall.

The home also pulls from a technique based on additive architecture. Huey embraced the approach, coined by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, to give the home a more organic, added-on look. The guesthouse and screened porch, which form opposite ends of the U shape, are shingled in gray, while the siding on the rest of the home is pale Artisan HardiePlank. “It helps that side of the house— the one closest to the ocean and the beloved 15th green—to fade into the environment,” says Vic.

Lighting is one area where Osprey really enhanced the homeowners’ vision. “It makes such a significant impact on the feel of the house,” Vic says. “Doug is very detail oriented and enjoys the challenges of execution.” Yet it can be difficult to find someone who knows lighting and can engineer it. “Doug guided us to find lighting solutions for challenging areas, including the steep cathedral ceiling with beams in the kitchen,” Vic continues. “To get enough candle power in the peripheral counter areas, commercial lighting was the answer.”

“The thing about Osprey Construction is that the whole team has high integrity,” says Patty.

“They have a can-do, wantto- make-it-right approach,” agrees Vic. “There’s no better endorsement than using the same builder the second time around.”

M.S. Lawrence is a Charleston-based writer. Email:

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