PURSUING A CAREER IN VIRGINIA MEANT THAT one area couple would have to leave behind their beloved Lowcountry. To make the move more palatable, Graham promised his wife, Nancy, that one day he would bring her back home to the Charleston area to live. Little did Nancy know at the time, it would take her husband 30 years to fulfill his promise.
Finally, the time came to return. Finding and purchasing a modest brick home overlooking Leadenwah Creek on Wadmalaw Island was just the beginning. Selecting a contractor who could remove the old house and replace it with the one that had been, for three decades, slowly forming in their dreams was the next most important decision the couple would make. That’s when they turned to Priester’s Custom Contracting. The 11-year-old company, owned by husband and wife team Tommy and Shelley Priester, specializes in building new custom homes through personal, hands-on project management from start to finish.
In recognition of their commitment, the company was recently presented the 2014 Guild Master Award, given for customer satisfaction by Guild Quality, a third-party independent surveying company. It is the fourth Guild Master Award in a row Priester’s Custom Contracting has earned for achieving a remarkable 100 percent satisfaction rating from all its clients.
“I have to say, the most remarkable feature about this house is the view,” says Shelley Priester. “The site is absolutely gorgeous. Our job was to build a quality home worthy of such a rare location, one Graham and Nancy will be proud to share with their family and friends for years to come.”
Today, the couple can’t get enough of that spectacular view. They spend many happy hours relaxing on their expansive back deck, shaded by a canopy of live oak trees, or on their dock watching the dolphins in the creek.
The raised, 3,420-square-foot home—Lowcountry style, of course—was designed by Charleston-based Hilton Googe of J. Hilton Googe Design Group. Constructed using HardiePlank, a fiber-cement lap siding that is more durable and resistant to wind and rain than most wood sidings, the house invites visitors in by way of a wide stairway leading to a porch that sweeps across the entire front of the house. Stucco covers the walls of the enclosed garage area below.
Nancy, a schoolteacher with a knack for interior decorating, chose an open floor plan that would allow guests to easily mingle. With vibrant wall colors and medium-plank light oak floors serving as a backdrop throughout the main floor, Nancy combined antique family furniture and many of her own favorite pieces from her home in Virginia with some new furnishings and accessories. “I have decorated my other homes and helped others decorate their homes, but I wanted this house to be absolutely perfect,” states Nancy. “I couldn’t have done it without the help and advice of David Huckabee, a designer at Southeastern Galleries. He held my hand throughout the process.”
The bright, open kitchen, featuring quartz countertops atop creamy white custom cabinetry, opens to a spacious breakfast area. The adjacent living room’s glass-paneled doors offer easy access to a deck that looks out over distinctive Lowcountry views, including the broad creek that feeds into the North Edisto River, the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America.
The formal dining room, swathed in a soothing aqua tone, is a veritable showplace of treasured family pieces. Nancy selected a lighter shade of aqua in the main floor’s master bedroom suite, which features a private screened porch. Upstairs are two additional bedrooms for overnight guests, plus a den and office area.
“Through the years, we’ve collected original watercolors by Charleston artist Alexandria Houghton Bennington,” notes Nancy. “She was a dear friend of ours. I surrounded myself with her beautiful paintings of Charleston architecture and other facets of Lowcountry life when we lived in Virginia. They were a constant reminder of home. Now those paintings are featured throughout my new Lowcountry home.
“I can’t say enough wonderful things about our experience with Tommy and Shelley Priester,” adds Nancy. “They were excellent to work with. If I called Tommy today to help me with something, I know he’d be right there.”
For their work on Graham and Nancy’s Wadmalaw Island home, Priester’s Custom Contracting was recently presented the 2013 Prism Award for Best Single Family Home by the Charleston Home Builders Association.
“It may have taken Graham 30 years to keep his promise to bring me home,” concludes Nancy. “But it was well worth the wait.”
Patra Taylor is a Charleston-based writer.