It was a simple two-story house built on a site that overlooked a deepwater creek on Edisto Island, a tranquil, mostly protected barrier island about an hour’s drive south of Charleston.
Owners Connie and Kenny Austin of Orangeburg, South Carolina, bought the house 13 years ago as a second home. When they decided it was time to enjoy those gorgeous views of the marsh full time, they knew whom to call—builder Terry Hoff and Charleston architect Michael Spivey.
The boxy style of the home, built in the mid-1990s, offered some design challenges, says Hoff, if it was to be transformed into the couple’s ideal home. For various reasons, however, the Austins decided to save what was there.
The team bumped the house out in four directions, doubling its size to 4,000 square feet. Hoff says the end result is that rooms flow into one another yet allow plenty of space for privacy. There are now four bedrooms—three upstairs and one on the main level—and as many baths.
Spivey says, “Our in-depth renovation provided access to the pool area from the house, improved the views from the house, and preserved the live oak at the back of the house that the owners wanted to keep.” Spivey’s project architect, Brad Brown, worked firsthand with Connie to help transform her ideas and thoughts to the dream home she wanted.
The process time from design to move-in was 18 months, and during that time Connie was an active participant. She says she wanted a laundry room upstairs. She also insisted that the shoe molding match the antique heart pine floors— re-milled 10-inch floorboards of a quality and size that Hoff says is hard to find.
One of the key features of the home is the quality and detail of the millwork and cabinetry. Hoff’s own team did the millwork. “Inattention to detail is one of my pet peeves,” he says. “I don’t want painters to caulk behind me. I want it to be perfect.”
Of the cabinetry, Hoff has only praise for William C. Pritchard Company’s commitment to design and quality. “I can never say enough good things about Pritchard,” he says. “He’s just at the top of his game.”
The house needed to lend itself to entertaining. For the kitchen, Connie chose an electric Thermador oven and steamer oven as well as a gas oven and a range topped by a pot filler.
The kitchen and dining room are connected by a “pre-function” room that links the original structure with the new. The crew reinforced the support beams and created a space with open shelves and cabinetry that enable a view through the new dining room to the water.
The dining room is the center of the Austins’ family life. Buck Lumber furnished Andersen doors and windows to frame a view of the travertine deck and infinity pool. Beyond the pool’s edge, one’s eye is drawn to the marsh and the long, delicious views of the sun setting over the water.
This room is hard to leave. “To be honest, we sit at the dining room table, eat, and then clear it off to play board games,” Connie says.
An all-new great room offers the same fantastic views as the dining room. Guests can watch television, enjoy the fire or simply meditate on the sunset. As for the fireplace, Connie says: “I wanted a gas fireplace in the great room. In Orangeburg, we were without power for five days during an ice storm, so it’s important to have a fireplace that can help to heat your home.”
The house had to have plenty of room for his-and-her spaces. Kenny has an office off the living room, and Connie has one off the walk-in kitchen pantry. In addition, the master bath has two sinks, two toilets separated by a shower and separate walk-in closets on either side of a massive tub. The bedroom has a sitting room that Connie calls her “girl cave.”
One of the biggest challenges for Hoff and Spivey was to integrate the flow of the new design with the original house. The master bedroom, for example, was opened up from its original, flat 8-foot ceilings to a vaulted cathedral ceiling—a decision Hoff said he made mid-project to give the room a spacious feeling. “It’s a challenge to fine-tune new ideas that come up as a project evolves,” Hoff says. He adds that this is the reason he limits his projects to just a few a year. “I stay small so I can be hands-on with my jobs,” he says.
“I often think Terry is more of a miracle worker than a contractor. It had to be the perfect house. It’s my home and I’m only leaving it feet first,” Connie says.
Helen Mitternight is a Charleston-based freelance writer and blogger.