DREAM HOMES

BY ROBIN HOWARD | PHOTOGRAPHY BY GETZ CREATIVE

FeatureGabrielle_1This manor house has all the elegance and charm of a French country estate. Inside and out, it exhibits the clean design and fine craftsmanship for which Gabriel Builders is famous.

If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping to your own private paradise, a new and extraordinary builder on the Charleston scene wants to help make that dream a reality.

Gabriel Builders is not your average homebuilder; its specialty is designing and building jaw-dropping estates that are completely customized to its clients’ lifestyles and whims. Total privacy, five-digit square footage, double- or triple-digit acreage, and the best quality and finishes on the market are a few of its hallmarks. Whatever you can imagine, the Gabriel team can make it happen. Additionally, the company’s commitment to customer service before, during and after construction is unsurpassed and has garnered Gabriel the 2014 Guild Quality Award for Exceptional Customer Service.

In sum, commitment to handcrafted homes and lifelong relationships with customers is the focus of Gabriel Builders. Winning nine consecutive South Carolina Pinnacle Awards, the state’s highest honor for home building, is an accomplishment that makes the company’s employees proudest. “With all the beautiful homes being built throughout the state, we feel truly honored. It’s a testament to our employees and trade people who focus on the little details that truly make a difference,” says Gus Rubio, president of Gabriel.

FeatureGabrielle_2In this luxurious home, guests move easily from one classically inspired living space to another. A light-filled, paneled entrance hall leads to a living room with a coffered ceiling. Doric columns frame a view of the kitchen.

Some of the company’s recent projects incorporate extraordinary features such as a private skeet-shooting field, an indoor rock-climbing wall and playground, and a subterranean wine cellar. Architectural styles include Italian villa, French chateau, mountain lodge, Craftsman, Georgian, Tudor and English manor.

Based in the upstate of South Carolina, Gabriel’s team consists of founders Belinda and Gus Rubio, their construction manager sons, Nick and Gabe, almost a dozen other professionals, and their Charleston-based manager, Andy Barber.

FeatureGabrielle_3The hallway of this Nantucket-style residence is distinguished by a unique staircase and banister and intricate woodwork around and above the front door. Upstairs, a balcony looks down on it all. Below: This traditionally styled kitchen, equipped with state-of-the-art appliances, is designed to accommodate the clients’ love of entertaining. Custom cabinetry was designed and built by Gabriel’s in-house cabinetry shop.

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The Rubios are proud of their humble beginnings. Their humility is one of the reasons clients usually end up becoming lifelong friends and enthusiastic advocates. Other reasons have to do with the Rubios’ core values. Nearly every conversation comes back to their commitment to excellent craftsmanship and all-encompassing service— commitments evidenced by their prestigious Master Builder status and long list of awards, including the National Association of Home Builders 2014 Custom Home Builder of the Year and the 2015 Ocean Home Magazine Builder of the Year.

FeatureGabrielle_5The great room in this Italian Mediterraneanstyle home was designed to be the ultimate space for entertaining. Twenty-two-foot-high ceilings, adorned with chandeliers imported from France, lend a feeling of opulence and elegance.

Gabriel Builders has been at work in the upstate for decades, but the idea to expand to Charleston came to them while vacationing in the Lowcountry. Clients had asked before if they would build in Charleston, but they knew navigating an entirely different market would require some local expertise. Enter Andy Barber, a long-time Charlestonian, custom homebuilder and realtor with King & Society Real Estate. A little over a year ago, while attending a convention, Barber and Rubio discussed the Charleston opportunities and everything just clicked. That’s when Rubio decided to build in Charleston and the barrier islands—and to bring Barber on board to introduce the company’s unique style of building to the Lowcountry.

FeatureGabrielle_6In South Carolina’s Lowcountry, outdoor kitchens and living spaces are highly prized. Below: The expansive master bathroom in this mountain house was built to bring the outdoors inside. The curb-less shower is fitted with state-of-the-art body sprays, while three windows offer a view into the woods.

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“Gus and Belinda are just as taken with Charleston as their clients,” Barber says. “They’re seeing the charm of coastal living, and that brings a certain kind of excitement.” Rubio says they are inspired by Charleston’s historic architecture and natural beauty, and are enthusiastic to discover what a modern Lowcountry estate might look like. “We want to be the best at what we do here,” Rubio says. “We want to be a part of the incredible things happening in the Lowcountry.”

Many of Rubio’s clients, including corporate chief executives, professional athletes, congressional representatives and four architects (for whom he has built personal residences), are their best ambassadors. Getting to know clients and helping them discover Charleston is Belinda’s area of expertise. “Many times our customers from out of state are also looking for social interaction and friendship. They may be retiring and are ready to relax, make friends and have fun,” she says. “The better we get to know them, the better we can customize their home.”

Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.