As soon as the vibrant, coral-colored front door of this New England-style, 6,000-squarefoot, five-bedroom “cottage” opens, you can see all the way to the back, through its many windows to Lowcountry marsh views and the Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek golf course. Designed to capitalize on those views, this home’s open and exposed first-floor plan required special framing and engineering to evenly distribute the weight on the home’s beams. But, explains builder Steve Guaglianone, it was instrumental to creating a home as light and bright as possible.
Owner of Novella Homes in Charleston and a fifth generation home builder with more than 15 years of experience, Steve kept the space open and insisted on plenty of tall windows, transoms and 11-foot ceilings. The breakfast room features a bank of windows that overlook the golf course and a grand oak tree, around which the home was designed. To keep the look open and breezy—and hardworking, too, for the family that might live here—he opted for an extra wide staircase and durable, textured European white oak floors. Vaulted ceilings and shiplap walls throughout the first floor go hand in hand with the light and breezy look.
Steve knows his stuff. He started in the field at age 14, “digging ditches, putting in fences—literally from the ground up,” he says, working during summer breaks and throughout college for his father, who founded Novella Homes in Virginia in 1976. He soon became a construction manager for the family business, working his way up to project manager of an 80- home subdivision in Northern Virginia. Eventually, Steve rose to vice president of operations, handling the customer service division, contracts and subcontractor selection. In 2014, he opened the Charleston office of Novella Homes with a focus on upscale custom homes.
For this Daniel Island home, Steve worked closely with Lorraine Vale, principal and lead designer of interior design firm Lorraine G Vale of Daniel Island. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Vale is a new construction selections expert who specializes in combining function and aesthetics. In the spacious kitchen, she richly outfitted the space in antiqued brass hardware and lighting to provide historical ambience. She chose honed Calacatta marble and cabinets by Charleston’s Spartina Cabinetry and added a second island. “The first island is dedicated to function and food prep, while the other is designed for casual mealtimes and serves as a great furniture piece for entertaining,” says Vale.
“When Steve first brought the plans to me, I knew immediately the aesthetic I wanted to follow for this home,” continues Vale. “It was asking for classic details and a sense of history. I stepped away from the trends and made it a true family home with loads of charm. There are oversized rooms, mellow wire-brushed floors and a large, old-fashioned butler’s pantry. There’s a further nod to the past in the nook carved out for a boot bench in the back entry. This house is comfortable and welcoming like an old friend, yet functions for a modern lifestyle.”
Big and grand, the home’s main living areas overlook the marsh views and infuse the home with natural light. Upstairs are a second master suite and two additional bedrooms. “All rooms are in the back of the house to capture the views,” says Steve. During a walk through, he and Vale tweaked plans to create a homework station/family computer area by framing over what was designed to be an open, railed area.
Wherever they saw the possibility for more natural light, the two looked for ways to capture it. During one walk-through, Steve had an idea for the master bathroom. In the master shower he cut in a custom window. This genius effect is private yet opens up the room with natural light and charming views of shaded oak branches. During another walk-through, the builder and designer determined the master suite was short on closet space. Steve replaced what was a study with an oversized, luxurious walk-in closet. He then added a large finished room above the garage on the opposite side of the house. “This is a flex space for family game nights or crafting, with enough room to also be a home office,” he suggests.
It’s the kind of sunny, unencumbered, enjoy-life-in the-present abode you can imagine being the perfect nest for a young family. A young family man himself, Steve approached this project as if it were his own. “I like listening,” he says. “I like making the process easy and fun. I tell clients: ‘It’s your home, so you tell me what you want. I want to know your ideas and what you need for your lifestyle. Let’s make it happen.’”
In all their projects, this team works toward one goal: to produce classic homes designed for modern living. “When you build just a few homes a year, every home is very personal,” says Steve. “It’s an honor to custom- build a client’s home. I’m building a place where they’re going to raise their family.”
M.S. Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Charleston. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.