Home showcase: Midwestern luxe meets May River majesty

A Regency-style River Road design blends North Shore Chicagoan sophistication with understated Lowcountry elegance.

Story by Paula Magrini + Photos by J. Savage Gibson

A traditional landscape courtyard with pierced brick walls sets the tone for the arrival to the Morettes’ gracious estate in Palmetto Bluff. “The main entrance is perhaps one of the most elaborate entries we’ve ever created and features a stone terrace, sweeping arch and a series of meticulously crafted mahogany doors,” said William Court. Regal two-story gables ascend along both the front and rear elevations of the main house. The rear of the house is a continuous sequence of glassed-in, screened and open porches.

One ride through the mesmerizing, Spanish-moss canopied streets of Palmetto Bluff led Bob and Jeanne Morette to an about-face in their retirement planning. They had set their sights on a home in South Carolina’s mountainous upstate,  but the intriguing ambience and lifestyle ease of the May River’s iconic community changed their minds. In a matter of weeks they purchased not one, but two waterfront homesites in the River Road neighborhood near Moreland Village.

Relying on Court Atkins Group to steer their home design, the Morettes were pleasantly surprised by the architects’ flexibility. “Superb attention to detail was what we counted on from this team,” Jeanne said. “But their constant willingness to blend our midwestern style with relaxed coastal details was truly impressive — and appreciated.”

“The Morettes had an extensive collection of existing furniture and art that needed to feel comfortable in the Lowcountry environment, yet we were careful to avoid a setting that was too casual,” explained William Court. “The resulting combination of architecture and interior design allowed us to create distinct and unique spaces with a remarkably high level of detail and finish.” 

After proactively visiting the clients’ home in the Chicago area, Van Plew reimagined their furniture and fine art in the context of an elegant coastal retreat.

Interior Design Director Deb Van Plew thoughtfully incorporated legacy pieces from the Morettes’ Winnetka (Chicago) residence and blended artwork with their evolving Southern décor. Deb pointed out, “it was the clients’ extraordinary collection of fine art that allowed me to push boundaries and add subtle Lowcountry touches. Gradually, we expanded the family’s art collection to include Lowcountry talent such as Jennifer Smith Rogers,” she added.

Simpson Construction collaborated with CAG’s Residential and Interior Design teams to thoroughly accommodate the Morettes’ custom-building wishes. 

Though the expansive retreat stretches across two homesites, the primary gathering space is the extended great room, including kitchen, living and dining areas, all flanked with floor to ceiling windows and water views in addition to terrace and porch access. Modern, elegant light fixtures illuminate coffered ceilings and intricate trim work, including strategically placed decorative ceiling brackets which add a graceful flourish to the heart of the home.

The balance of the home’s design features a ground-level master suite, second story bedrooms and baths interspersed with sitting areas, a formal den, bonus room and even a room dedicated to the family’s miniature train collection.

“This home is all about gathering our family together for holidays, special occasions or whenever our children, and eventually their children, want to reunite and relax here,” Jeanne shared. 

With so many alluring indoor-outdoor meeting spaces and nostalgic touches throughout their new May River retreat, no doubt the Morettes’ daughter and sons — Catie, her husband Jordan, Tim, Michael and Matthew — will return home to the Lowcountry again and again.

“The client preferred shades of blue as the focus of her design palette, so we blended neutral textured fabrics and simple elegant finishes to offset coastal hues and accentuate the home’s traditional vibe,” said Interior Design Director Deb Van Plew.

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