IN ARCHITECTURE CIRCLES, CHRISTOPHER ROSE is known for designing homes that are carefully created for the people who will live there. Rose is so dedicated to not automatically using common concepts that he approaches each project with a completely blank slate and an open mind. Through this philosophy, he has built an enviable portfolio of innovative dwellings that set a certain standard in Lowcountry architecture and renovation.
Here’s an example: The American Institute of Architects presented Rose with its highest recognition, the National Award, for his Charleston Cottages—Prototype Housing for the Homeless. Rose built these transitional homes for less than $12,000. They were practical and dignified, and their historical aesthetic blended seamlessly into downtown Charleston.
Now, take an architect who can create an award-winning, affordable 352-square-foot house and turn him loose with thousands of square feet and a much larger budget. You can expect something exceptional, and his clients do.
Take his latest project: a 6,500-square-foot shingle-style home on Kiawah Island. Having worked with the family before, Rose took their wish list and went back to his drawing board to conjure a home that would conform to the way the family lives.
“I was excited about working with a favorite client for the second time and accommodating their growing family, as well as working on a lot with an ocean view,” Rose says.
His clients wanted a contemporary interior that would be functional for their young family. It had to be welcoming and comfortable for overnight guests, have plenty of casual entertaining space and be energy efficient. As a second home for the family, it also had to be low-maintenance.
Rose worked with designer Beverly Bohan, principal of Haute Design and an innovator in her own right, to create interiors that were coastal and timeless but not necessarily nautical or traditional. Bohan had also worked with the family on several homes before, each time keeping pace with her client’s evolving tastes and needs. Her designs are a joy to discover.
Like Rose, she is committed to quality and functionality, but her unique creativity and skill result in a certain elegance that lends subtle but substantial personality to her projects. As a result of their teamwork, this home is comfortable and family-friendly, but also has unmistakable class.
Rose began with a reverse floor plan—the bedrooms are on the ground floor, the living space on the second floor and the master suite on the third floor. He proposed a pedestal deck system so the pool would be on the second level instead of on the ground floor. This design gives the home a treehouse vibe and takes advantage of sea views.
For sustainability, an energy-saving HVAC system dehumidifies, desalinates and preconditions air that circulates five times every hour. Though the exterior shingles look like cedar, they’re PVC. Deck railings (and interior stair railings) are powder-coated marine railings that would be entirely at home on a yacht. These railings easily unbolt so they can be recoated every few years.
On the ground floor, Rose and Bohan created a bunk room for the two boys, a bedroom for the daughter and a mini-master for guests. The bunk room sports two sets of custom built-in bunk beds, so there’s plenty of room for visiting friends.
Bohan gave the room an understated nautical theme that includes an accent shiplap wall in navy blue and a custom teak vanity in the bath. Just outside the bunk room, Rose built a series of square cubbies to corral shoes and the usual flotsam and jetsam that can cause clutter.
This floor also hosts the kids’ playroom and TV, with easy access to the pool and patio via a sliding door. The pool deck has everything the family needs for relaxing and entertaining, including durable and stylish loungers and a concrete dining table. The outdoor fireplace is covered in a tile that mimics bamboo, giving the space a whimsical Trader Vic’s vibe. The outdoor pool bath has one of Bohan’s best design surprises: a petite sink made from petrified wood.
On the second floor, Rose created a spacious bar for entertaining and pre-dinner gatherings. Stately dark wood contrasts with the gray slate, echoing a Nantucket color palette. The floor is stained with a gray lime wash, and the ceiling is tinted ever so slightly for a matte finish that contrasts nicely with the glossy shiplap on the walls. Most of the light fixtures in the house are custom, including the stairway lights that mimic old ship lanterns.
Across the landing is a second mini-master guest suite. Here, Bohan layered fabrics and patterns, used mixed metals and Rohl fixtures—elements of her signature style. The second floor also hosts the main living area, a kitchen, a home office and a dining room.
The homeowners wanted a clean, white kitchen with room for a crowd. Rose built an expansive walk-in pantry that allows the family and guests (or caterers) to quickly see what supplies are on hand without having to dig through cabinets.
Bohan chose geometric acrylic light fixtures over the large island and pulled in gray tones on the shiplap ceiling. In the kitchen, as throughout the rest of the house, hand-hewn beams support the ceiling, adding rustic warmth. Though the rooms flow together as one space, different ceiling heights allow them to register as separate.
In the living room, a linear fireplace made from one massive stone slab steals the show. Living room décor features mixed metals, wood touches and the blue color scheme that runs throughout the house.
The third floor is all about the grown-ups. A morning bar on the landing is perfect for an early cup of coffee or grabbing a bottle of water after a workout in the home gym, located to the left of the master bedroom. The master bedroom is a triumph, with barrel-vaulted ceilings, a soft color palette and a sliding barn door that leads to the en suite bath.
In the master bath, Bohan mixed four different tile patterns, including a lovely rug pattern on the floor, to create visual interest. A frosted glass cubical replaces the traditional water closet enclosure, and cubbies over the bath hold all the practical and luxury goodies required for the perfect soak.
Throughout the house, Rose’s thoughtful design is evident. “The owners love the open plan and having more space than the previous home. The husband loves the large bar to entertain friends and the kids are crazy about the bunk room and their den,” Rose says.
From built-ins to catch clutter to gathering spaces that make sense for how the family lives and entertains, he’s created the perfect home for this modern family.
Robin Howard is a full-time freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.