When Rich and Michelle Antonelli commissioned designer Taylor King to help design their dream home on Hilton Head Island, they explained their vision for the oceanfront getaway: It should be a “little boutique hotel.”
When they flew in from rainy Pittsburgh on a glorious Lowcountry day, King greeted them, presented her “big reveal” and Michelle Antonelli started crying.
“You did it,” they told her. “It’s a mini-Ritz Carlton!”
Even the Ritz might pale in comparison, or at least grow faint. A departure from the typical Southern coastal norm, the four-story, 6,500-square-foot home looks traditional on the surface, but at heart it’s a sleek, rebellious youth.
With Mediterranean-style columns, yellow stucco and a partial handstacked stone wrap, it quietly, modestly takes its place in the neighborhood. But inside and out back, the four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home lets loose with West Coast cool, unapologetically modern and clearly tuned into the future.
“We tried to stay in line with the overall look and feel of the community, which is pretty traditional,” explains King. “Inside, the owners wanted a coastal spin on California-style sleek. They wanted a home that was a departure from the usual, that made them feel as if they were away on vacation at a getaway spot.”
High, dark-stained wood ceilings strike a clean, crisp note against white walls, floors, furniture and cabinetry. “The chocolate stain, a departure from what you usually see with wood ceilings on the East Coast, steps it up, takes it to another level,” says King. Tall plate-glass windows along the entire back of the home give full glory to the home’s amazing views of the sea. Glass-surrounds on the porches, steel cable railings and open staircases have clean, modern lines that seem almost museum-like. King incorporated many details to keep the home’s overall aesthetic spare. To hide audio and TV equipment in the main room, she worked with the builder to create hidden drawers faced with stacked stone in the fireplace wall. She also helped design additional storage under the stairway in the office, so the Antonellis could keep essential items out of sight.
Then there are the hotel-like indulgences, additions the well-traveled owners requested to make their home feel like a luxurious escape. Stacked glass walkways on the third and fourth floors filter light from below and, like bridges, seem to float over the water out to the sea. The indoor master bath features a full indoor shower that opens onto a private outdoor shower overlooking the ocean. It is flawlessly, unabashedly “dressed” in white Carrara marble. In the dining room, a “wine wall” showcases the couple’s collection of wines from across the world behind a length of floor-to-ceiling glass.
“These are not everyday elements,” says King. “This was a one-of-akind project that included features and details I may never use again.” Partnering with builder Steve Dill of Steve Dill Construction, she rose to the challenge of making these special elements adhere to both form and function, acting as designer, project manager and coordinator.
“We had to work through several prototypes,” says King. “Our entire design-build team and the suppliers put a lot of thought into the glass walkways, since they pose such an unusual challenge. We needed to make sure that the support was there, and that they looked good from all viewpoints. The size and finish were also factors.”
“Taylor understands timelines, budgets and is a team player all the way, which is very refreshing,” notes Dill. “This project ran smoothly from start to finish due to her organization and hard work.” It was the first time King had collaborated with Dill. “He is a one-of-a-kind builder who has great attention to detail,” she says.
“We had a great team with Steve and Taylor!” says Michelle Antonelli. “From day one, they worked together to see that everything ran smoothly to deliver our dream home.”
As project manager, King worked with the Antonellis and the builder on the Hilton Head home from the beginning, starting from the ground up. “I was there for every decision—accessories, finishes, furniture, you name it,” she says. “I was the on-site liaison for the homeowner.”
“It’s well worth having a designer work beside the builder every step of the way to ensure you get the result you want,” says Michelle Antonelli. “Taylor made sure we got the home we’d imagined.”
While King helped put this home together from the ground up, she also likes to work on smaller projects, including one-room redesigns. “I can help clients with small details, even if it’s just paint or flooring selections.” She also offers on-site consultations.
“The building process is stressful, so it’s great to be able to enjoy an easy working relationship, to have a rapport with your clients,” says King. “It’s key to a successful outcome. This home was a dream home for the client and a dream project for me.”
M.S. Lawrence is a Charleston-based writer.