Home Showcase: Unveiling an island jewel

This custom-built beauty in Palmetto Dunes delights with details.

Story by Paula Magrini + Photography by Anne Caufmann

This dazzling Palmetto Dunes Resort retreat beckons with New England-style architectural elements and, inside, delights with carefully curated custom details, including luxe fixtures and finishes from around the globe. A prized gem in the Kelly Caron Designs portfolio, the home’s brilliant allure results from seamless collaboration.

Seaside dining calls for ocean blues and resort-style elegance.

A vision meant to be

No strangers to Hilton Head Island, Lisa and Greg Smith have escaped to the Southeast enclave for years. Whether joining her friends for a tennis trip or soaking up the signature sun and sand, Lisa was drawn to the low-key lifestyle and Lowcountry rhythm. “We eventually gave in to the island’s allure and purchased a home site,” she said. “We waited a couple of years before building in 2019.” 

The Smiths assembled their team including Kelly Caron Designs, custom builder The Twelve Oaks Group and Court Atkins Group architects. They imagined their oceanfront home to be a bright, breezy haven, adorned with modern amenities, a coastal palette and uniquely layered textures and finishes. Of course, the stunning ocean views were a priority, inspiring the floor-to-ceiling windows that now frame turquoise waves and shimmering sand.

With four grown children and friends from all over the country, the Smiths planned to share their ocean panorama frequently, so entertaining resort-style became a priority in their home vision. Lisa quickly assembled her wish list for creating the perfect welcome.

Details are the design

“There’s nothing more energizing than a client who knows exactly what she wants,” said Kelly Caron. “Lisa and I sourced many of the home’s design features together. My goal was to make her vision come true, while hopefully enhancing her ideas with my perspective,” she added.

Lisa relied on Kelly to help her choose every detail. She admitted that she had never worked with an interior designer before, but after her experience with Kelly Caron, she would never fly solo again. Among the rewards of the collaborative approach, she shared with Kelly is the master bedroom ceiling.

“I’ve always loved older homes that feature custom ceiling tracery,” Lisa said. “Kelly designed and sized the quatrefoils on our ceiling to mimic the sconces in our master bathroom. Then builder Brian Quinn and his master carpenter, Andrew Cooke, figured out how to form the quatrefoil shapes and make the magic happen.”

Other highlights of the team collaboration include the stunning great-room chandelier, imported from a Netherlands vendor and suspended with painstaking care at the heart of the home’s primary two-story gathering space. The novel new-age kitchen sink, featuring a double faucet basin, is another one of Lisa’s favorite signature items. After all, for a home that sleeps 20, the kitchen traffic can get congested.

“It’s the perfect solution for the Smiths’ numerous guests because it allows them to streamline the clean-up process, especially since we placed dishwashers on either side of the sink,” noted Kelly. She pointed out the sink faucets and finish complement the overall kitchen theme, featuring deep ocean blues, contrasting countertops and elegant polished brass accents.

The centerpiece of the Smiths’ coastal kitchen, the island includes a twin faucet basin and two dishwashers, so cleanup is doubly efficient.

Team performance

Despite the timing of its construction in the midst of the global pandemic, Twelve Oaks Group owner and principal, Brian Quinn, said the project team collaborated seamlessly with the Smiths. “In my 21 years of building homes, there is no house that I’ve built that encompasses the term ‘custom’ more than the Smith residence,” he shared. “Every detail of the home was meticulously orchestrated by an amazing team of professionals and incredibly creative homeowners.”

Particularly inspiring to Quinn was the leadership of Kelly Caron Designs, whom he acknowledged kept the teams in sync with meetings, detail updates and the demands of the uncompromising limitations of the pandemic. 

“We navigated through many shipping delays, crews needing to quarantine, procurement issues and masking up for every walkthrough and design meeting,” Quinn said. “Thankfully, due to our experience with these upscale projects and exceptional partners, we were fully prepared to navigate the curve balls.”

Brian and Kelly had the seasoned experience of Court Atkins Group’s residential team on their side as well. Senior Project Designer, Michael Moss, was committed to the exterior aesthetic, despite strict community standards. Palmetto Dunes has a height requirement for all houses, requiring roof lines to be a certain height, or below, so that from the beach all homes appear to have a uniform roof line. “In order to fit a 2-1/2 story house that fulfilled the client’s wishes called for careful planning and creative thinking,” Moss advised.

Moss said the overall architectural design of the Smith home is meant to resemble a shoreline “Light-Keepers” house (or lighthouse) with a carriage home in front. He compared it to the shingle-style residences prevalent in New England seaside towns such as Bar Harbour, Maine.

The front elevation of the home features elements that are reminiscent of a New England “light keepers” house, or lighthouse.

Finishing touches

In many ways, the completion of the Smiths’ southern seaside home was timed perfectly. Lisa and Greg moved in just before the winter holidays, in time to welcome home their sons and daughter from all corners of the country. Installations by the Kelly Caron Designs team had the added advantage of relying on one of Kelly’s new partner ventures, The Design Vault, which allows design deliveries to be expedited through a high-touch moving and storage team. 

“Providing this turn-key resource was the perfect ending to an amazing collaboration,” Kelly said. “We hope we’ve given new meaning to the term “full-service” for clients like the Smiths who bring unconditional trust and support to the interior-design process.”

The Smiths are approaching the end of their first year in their island dream home. Looking back on the design and building process, Lisa said she enjoyed all of it. “Kelly and I had a lot of fun. She really does have a solution for everything.”

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