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At one with nature

Spring Island home reflects beautiful Lowcountry surroundings.

Story by Dean Rowland + Photography by Tom Jenkins

If living in Bluffton suggests a “state of mind,” then living on Spring Island suggests a “natural state of being.”

Natural, as in 3,200 acres of pristine maritime forest with Spanish moss hanging gracefully from the branches of the live oaks and stately longleaf pine trees, joined by 90 other species.

There’s also about 600 varieties of flora and 700 types of fauna that grow in this magnificent environment.

Located about halfway between Hilton Head and Beaufort and a stone’s throw away from Callawassie Island, Spring Island is a nature sanctuary to bald eagles, crabs, alligators, quail, evergreens, holly berries and loblolly pines. It’s also home to 275 homeowners. Island development began in 1990 and all the homesites were sold by 1999. The island is capped at 400 custom-built homes.

One home, built 10 years ago on Spring Island Drive, resonates with everything Spring Island.

“There are nature curtains around each home site, so it’s impossible to see the homes next to you,” said John Strother, the broker in charge of Spring Island Realty. “The thick vegetation between each home is undisturbed vegetation. The only avenue that is opened up is the vista to the marsh.

Guests turn right and go through a 100-foot natural tree buffer, and all of a sudden, it opens to a meadow with a winding gravel drive that leads to the home.

Terry Pylant, project manager a decade ago and a principal at Historical Concepts in Atlanta who designed the gulf coast Creole/Lowcountry-influenced home, described the natural setting as “phenomenal.”

“When you enter the site, you go through a tree coverage that opens up to the meadow and exposure to the sunlight and the greens of the field,” he said. “Any design we do, we always look at the site first. You look at the tree coverage, you look at the orientation, where the sunlight goes. And also the height elevation gives a great view across the marsh (in the back of the home). It was a great layout to start with.”

The inviting home is not palatial. It’s what the couple, whose primary residence is in Manhattan, N.Y., wanted.

“They didn’t want a large house; they wanted something that would live well but not overly sized,” said Pylant, who joined the company in 1989. “The layout is casual and efficient. They wanted something open and light and airy.”

What sets this home apart on Spring Island — if that’s even possible, given the unique collection of residences — is Historical Concepts’ physical layout on the property.

The main residence, front and center on the property, occupies more than 3,500 square feet. The guest house, above the Savannah brick carriage house connected by a breezeway with a brick paraffin-treated wall, is 700 square feet. Another guest room next to the garage in a barn-style structure. A brick pigeonaire that stores garden equipment sits across from the carriage house.

“When Historical Concepts gives you plans, it’s not 10 pages,” Strother. “It’s usually 70 to 100 pages. They design everything into the smallest detail of the house. So you really have a piece of art.”

Pylant cited the “matching in the form of house . . . the curvature of the roof, the standing seam roofing, the arched windows in the dormers and the detailing of the columns.”

Pylant acknowledged the superb craftsmanship by the Pinckney Brothers, Inc. the multi-generational builder founded in 1964 on Hilton Head Island.

The intricate architectural design focuses on the marsh views from every living space and a plethora of oversized windows to welcome in the day-long sunlight.

“The formal windows in the main living area are truly phenomenal with the light they bring in for constant exposure,” Pylant said. “Everything opens up to the marsh in the back. Every single space has a view of the marsh.”

The “soft, warm palette of grays” by interior designer Andrew Maier of New York complements nature’s own radiance, Playant said. “The palette works so well there.”

The use of dramatic cypress wood in the exposed beams and rafters in the kitchen and vaulted living room, the fireplace mantel and in the cabinetry in the office/den (that includes a concealed television and bar), works well with the interior’s gray tones.

Pine adorns the 10-foot-high ceilings and single-slab French oak spreads 8 1/2-feet wide on the kitchen’s island. The wide-plank oak flooring stretches from the first-floor master bedroom suite to a guest room on the opposite side of the house.

“It’s truly a mix of materials,” Pylant said.

Other design touches include a wood-paneled, custom-built mudroom, a utility room, a half-bathroom in the corridor that extends from the kitchen to the garage and vestibules built off the main hallway.

The natural kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, colors and textures vibrates throughout the island in a muted Lowcountry kind of way.

The home team

Architecht: Historical Concepts
Builder: Pinckney Brothers, Inc.
Interior Design: Andrew Maier
Windows: 
Marvin Windows and Doors
Landscape Architect: Hooten Land Design, Inc.
Shutters: New Horizon Shutters
Mantel: Francois & Co.
Exterior Doors:
Brannen Millwork Co.