Step Inside a Southern Kiawah Island Home

Home Tour Kiawah Island

Some Southern beach resort houses hit you over the head with their bigger-than-life color palettes: shocking pinks, electric blues and lime greens. Others take a more subtle approach, seeking to blend into their environment rather than dominate it. Such was the case with this stunning Shingle-style home on Kiawah Island, a resort and golf community near Charleston, South Carolina, where both the architect and the interior designers sought inspiration from the surrounding low-country landscape.

“Kiawah is a beautiful barrier island,” says Jerry Hupy, a partner with Shope Reno Wharton in Norwalk and the project manager. “We wanted to make the house an extension of its environment. From the back, looking across the marsh, you would never even know it was there. From inside, you get unhindered views in all directions.”

Tucked among the lush foliage—palmetto palm and live oak and native grasses that change colors with the seasons—the home is composed of two buildings. The main house has the living areas, master bedroom suite and two guestrooms. The adjoining carriage house has a guestroom and a bunk room for kids. “The homeowners wanted something comfortable and convenient for the whole family, with great flow and an emphasis on natural light,” Hupy says. The space is light and airy thanks to a prodigious use of windows and transoms, and the open floor plan with rooms that flow seamlessly into one another. The most dramatic element of the home is a stair tower that anchors one end. “Kiawah is a low-key place. There are discreet street signs, and traditional landmarks are at a premium. When guests come over the causeway, the first thing they see is the tower. It’s like a beacon.”

For the interiors, the homeowners turned to Petra and Whitney Roberts of Boxwood Home & Interiors, with whom they had worked on three previous
homes in New Canaan. “They trust what we do,” says Whitney. “We know them so well, we can interpret their ideas and make them into reality.”

In this case, that meant keeping the look elegant but casual, clean and uncluttered. “Nothing in the interior is fighting the outside; everything is meant to enhance it,” she says. “When you are down here, the first thing you notice is how textured everything is. The second thing you notice is the quality of the light.”

Playing off the natural theme, the designers stuck to a neutral color palette—soft whites (with hints of ivory or gray), greens, blues and browns—using lots of different textures to create interest. The entry area or “gallery” features embossed faux crocodile wallpaper in ivory, the living room is covered in a sea-glass strie, the contemporary wing chairs are covered in a basket-weave linen, and the window treatments have a subtle ocean motif, incorporating shells and corals. “It’s an updated look on a classic,” says Whitney. “The faux bamboo hardware adds another textural layer.”

In the dining room, raw silk window treatments in cocoa and natural play off the subtle hue of the walls. The custom “coral” light fixture above the 1950s antique table is a delicate marshy green with tiny flecks of tobacco brown. Throughout the downstairs, natural fiber, handwoven area rugs are scattered around the oak floors.

The one exception to the understated color theme is the kid’s bunk room, where chocolate brown Roman blinds feature a playful display of jungle animals; lavender, orange and green accent pillows add a vibrant pop to the white linen-covered beds.

When it came time to add the finishing touches, the designers scoured the region for accessories and artwork, discovering a treasure trove in nearby Charleston. One of their favorite pieces, a monotype done by a local artist, hangs above the mantel in the living room. “You stare at that painting and feel like you are looking out another window instead of looking at the fireplace,” says Whitney. “It’s as if the artist was sitting right here on the porch when she did it.”

A version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Natural Wonder.