When a couple stumbled upon the discovery of a lifetime—an available double lot situated along the northern coastal edge of the Isle of Palms—these long-time Isle of Palms residents knew immediately it was the perfect place to build their forever home. Their first step was to carefully select a team from among the local building industry’s top professionals. After providing general direction about what they wanted in their home, one of the homeowners rolled up her sleeves and joined in the process, further fueling their dream team’s collective magic.
Tossing any preconceived notions out the window, the team juiced its creativity by allowing the boundaries of style to ebb and flow in any given design scenario. The result? Together, they transformed the couple’s edge-of-America homesite into the envy of the island— and redefined beachfront living along the South Carolina coast in the process.
For Rus Sheppard and his brother, Tre, conjuring a masterpiece from a stack of plans that includes thousands of details is about the most fun they can have on any given day. With 21 years of experience in new construction, renovations and remodeling, the two owners of Mount Pleasant-based Sheppard Construction embody the concept that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
“The process of building a home should be a lot of fun,” says Rus Sheppard, who served as project manager for the couple’s home. “We always strive for it to be an awesome experience for the homeowners. We know there are stories out there about home construction projects going sideways, but we have a long track record of not having those types of issues.”
According to Sheppard, the lot was fairly wide and included an elevated area, both anomalies for the Isle of Palms beachfront. Despite these assets, the entrance to the property proved to be somewhat “awkward” due to its location just off a dead end street.
“The house is very asymmetrical,” says Beau Clowney, the architect for the project. “The fact that the home is elevated and has a flipped floor plan— meaning the main living space is on the top floor—makes it unique. We worked hard to pull the rooflines down and make them more interesting and appealing to fit in with the existing neighborhood.”
As a result, the rooflines are suggestive of historical island cottages while the home’s detailing is reminiscent of Southern coastal architecture. “At the same time,” continues Clowney, “it’s a beachfront house that works programmatically, is pleasing to the eye, and still has a sense of nostalgia and character to make it feel appropriate for the island.”
Most of the home’s exterior cladding, including the authentic- looking shingle shakes, is made of PVC, a plastic that is low maintenance and durable. “For a beachfront application, there’s really no better product,” notes Sheppard.
An irresistible piece of granite for the living room’s fireplace set the tone for the interior design. Refusing to adhere to traditional beach-house style, interior designer Cortney Bishop quickly found her stride in the unconventional. Using river-recovered antique cypress discovered by the homeowner for many of the ceilings and all the custom-made interior doors, Bishop selected complementary wide-plank walnut floors stained with her own special color blend to flow throughout the home.
Landscape architect Sheila Wertimer tucked a large garden behind indigenous hedging to help buffer the home visually on the street side and carefully placed a line of palm trees to connect the home design with its beachy setting. The resulting “backyard” invites family members and guests to kick off their shoes and enjoy the grassy oasis.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the many subcontractors on our team. They’re the ones who turn the ideas and designs into reality,” concludes Sheppard. “Many of our subcontractors have been with us at Sheppard Construction from the beginning, so we know what to expect from them. We know they’ll put everything they’ve got into each project.
“Every member of the team, including the homeowners, is happy with the final result. Building it was a lot of fun, and everyone had a great experience. And, best of all, the home is amazing.”
Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer in Mount Pleasant. Find out more at patrataylor.com.