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A new brush with Lowcountry luxe

Eye-catching monochrome accents, infused with Southern style, compose an award-winning Colleton River masterpiece.

Story by Barry Kaufman  +  Photos by Photography by Anne

Any home, no matter how exquisite its craftsmanship or inspired its design, begins with the lot. In the case of Joe and Pauline Gareau, all those elements conveniently came bundled together.

Make an Entrance • The subtlest hint of marsh through glass doors speaks to the breathtaking way the view takes center stage.

“That view we had right up the Colleton was important to us,” said Joe. “The guy we bought the lot from already had the plan in place from Court Atkins Group, and had gone through the ARB process. We just modified it a little bit.”

That view, showcased exquisitely from the front doors and spilling out across mesmerizing marsh views toward the Colleton River’s confluence with the Chechessee, were already ingrained in the home’s design. It was the changes to that design, both large and small, that make this house a unique masterpiece. One of the most notable changes is in the grand “summer porch,” as the owners call it. Originally a screened-in outdoor living space, the Gareaus saw the potential to extend the indoors out toward that marvelous view.

Riverfront Retreat • The interplay between organic and monochromatic generates the dramatic contrast of the exterior as well as playful accents within.

“We lived in another house in Colleton before this and spent a lot of time in our screened-in porch, but the pollen was killing us,” said Joe. “We decided to put in windows and have them open if we want the breeze. That’s where we spend the bulk of our time.”

Setting this summer porch off from the main space is another inspired touch, an accordion door of glass panels that effectively turns the entire room into a convertible. While the homeowners gleefully tailored that design to their needs, that view was paramount.

OPEN SPACES • The main areas of the home all fuse together with fluidity and light, which make for an entertainer’s dream.

“That’s the biggest thing I love about the house,” said Ben Kennedy, principal of Brighton Builders. “Walking in that front door, you feel like you’re stepping out onto the marsh.”

The view stayed the same from the beginning to the end of the plan. It was everything else that was tweaked, molded and perfected until it represented a truly customized live-in work of art. The Gareaus entrusted Brighton Builders – specifically Brittany Kennedy  – with much of the design decisions, from colors and materials to trim.

“We didn’t want it to be boring. We wanted elegant and clean,” said Kennedy. That involved incorporating some traditional Cape Cod saltbox details to the exterior, a nod to the Gareaus’ northeast roots, as well as adding some dazzling monochromatic elements to break up the typically organic Lowcountry aesthetic.

Creating that look meant going the extra mile, as Brighton had to source black- and white-tinted bricks from as far as Texas for the home’s exterior fireplace. “That’s how far we wanted to go as a builder,” said Kennedy.

Wood Wins • Custom woodwork adds visual flair at every corner, whether it’s a dramatic cornice around a range hood or lavishly molded coffers in a ceiling.

But even before the first hammer was swung, an innovative trick up Brighton Builders’ sleeve kept the process running along smoothly. “We’re literally building the house virtually before we build it,” said Kennedy, showing off the three-dimensional model that pre-dated the house. Like something out of an Iron Man movie, this model can be viewed from every angle, with elements added in or stripped out on the fly, to get an all-encompassing vision of the home.

Marsh mellow • The home’s “summer porch” was a one-of-a-kind adjustment to the previously developed plan, allowing for year-round immersion in marsh views.

“The biggest thing that leads to disappointment is failing to meet expectations,” said Kennedy. “This helps me get to a different level of articulating the owners’ vision.”

And that vision is truly a sight to behold.


The Home Team

Builder: Brighton Builders   Architect: Court Atkins Group
Cabinets: Litchfield Cabinetry   Countertops: Distinctive Granite & Marble
Flooring: Antique Heart Pine Flooring   Foundation: Savannah Hardscapes
Windows: Grayco   HVAC: EAC