At its southernmost tip, Kiawah Island’s world-renowned white sand beach culminates in a sand spit, with the Kiawah River at its back and the deep blue waters of the Atlantic stretched out before it. This grand finale to the island’s pristine, miles-long seashore marks a magical spot where the river gently merges with Captain Sam’s Inlet in a perfect union. It’s a place where beachcombers seeking a respite from their busy lives joyfully coexist with piping plovers, bottlenose dolphins, diamondback terrapins and a plethora of other wildlife.
Just across the inlet is Seabrook Island.
“When I first moved to the Charleston area in 1990, my impression of Kiawah/Seabrook was monolithic. I didn’t realize there was a difference between the two,” states Rick Aldrich, owner of Aldrich Incorporated, an exclusive builder of fine custom homes in the coastal Charleston area. “Seabrook is a lot more low-key. I fell in love with it the first time I visited the island.”
According to Aldrich, Seabrook Island is unique among South Carolina’s resort and residential communities. Wholly owned by its property owners, the island is distinctive in that it is, by design, more private and less busy than other coastal resort islands. Just beyond the security gate, Seabrook’s distinctive equestrian center helps define the laidback lifestyle enjoyed there. The island also boasts three miles of private, pristine beach—the only one in the area on which people can ride horses—and worldclass golf on two meticulously maintained courses.
Only a handful of homesites on Seabrook Island are privy to the stunning views of Kiawah Island and the inlet, which extend from marsh to river to beach to ocean. When Mary and David Allen purchased one of the exclusive lots for their new home, they were determined to incorporate the view into their everyday lives. To do that, they knew the only way to go was up.
“The few sites along the Kiawah River that overlook Captain Sam’s Inlet are among the finest on the island,” says Aldrich, who has built 25 custom homes on Seabrook Island. “Building this house was a pleasure because the overall design and the way it fit into the environment seemed perfect from start to finish.”
The Allens’ Seabrook Island home is reminiscent of an old New England-style seacoast house, with distinctive mansard rooflines and a standout octagonal center study. Designed by architect Bill Huey of Bill Huey + Associates, the home features Maxishake shingles on its exterior. “Because of their combed texture, it’s difficult to distinguish these cementitious shingles from actual wood shake shingles just by looking at them,” notes Aldrich, who only builds two or three homes at a time to guarantee a consistently high level of one-on-one service to his clients. “We also opted for a semitransparent topcoat on the shingles to give the home a real pop.”
Day-to-day living in this home is from the top down, with all the public living spaces—kitchen, living room, dining room, study and powder room—as well as the master suite located on the second floor, where the views are captured within a frame of expansive windows. The mansard- style roof accommodates high ceilings to allow light to fill the space. “Among the most impressive features of this home is the octagonal cherry-paneled study,” notes Aldrich. “It was crafted by cabinetmaker William C. Pritchard, who prefinished all the cherry components for my crew to install before his crew came in to install the cabinets. Everything fit together like a puzzle. And the final result is beautiful.”
Three additional guest bedroom suites—one used as Mary Allen’s studio—along with a media room and a large screened porch make up the home’s first floor. “Because the house is raised, we were able to build a ‘relief area’ beneath the screened porch,” explains Aldrich. “It’s a covered approach to the garage. Because it’s shaded, the beautiful cedar garage door is more resistant to fading and cracking. I think this custom detail is one of the many brilliant aspects of this home’s unique design.”
When the home was completed, the Allens got everything they wanted. Aldrich ensured that each aspect of Bill’s plan was carried out exactly as specified, and he worked to incorporate Mary’s many great ideas along the way. “The stunning homesite set the bar pretty high for this project,” concludes Aldrich. “I think a great team came together to build a home worthy of its setting.”
Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer living in Mount Pleasant.