Unveiling an Authentic May River Estate
Story by Paula Magrini + Photography by J. Savage Gibson
From Bermuda to the Bluff, a global corporate couple now calls River Road Home.
Waterfront property at Palmetto Bluff begs builders, architects and interior designers to step outside the box. It’s not just another beach destination bathed in sunset vistas, pastel palettes and tropical touches. When Rob and Donna Kuzloski discovered Bluffton’s pristine May River neighborhood, they imagined a gracious family retreat that embraces the spirit of Lowcountry vernacular on a number of levels, from its meandering footprint to an interior landscape that’s as multi-faceted as the surrounding coastal habitat.
“Every room in the house has a water view,” Donna explained, “yet each room also has its own character, whether it’s the drama of the great room with its lofty ceilings and reclaimed wood trusses or the serenity of our master suite where we moved walls to add a light and airy yoga nook.”
Donna and Rob depended on their builder, Element Construction, to bring to life the floorplans that straddled two generous home sites. “Knowing the expectations of a couple who have lived and traveled all over the world, we definitely pushed the envelope with this home,” said Andrea Eldred, co-owner of Element Construction
Eldred and co-owner Brandon Edwards collaborated closely with the project’s architect and interior designer to achieve a remarkable level of custom detail throughout the near 10,000 square-foot estate. “Building on dual lots was a major commitment,” Edwards said, “but the elaborate specifications of the home’s interior and exterior design were the true test of endurance. It will always be a memorable project,” he added.
No strangers to Palmetto Bluff’s trending River Road enclave, Court Atkins Group steered the Kuzloskis’ architectural design. Their mission was to leverage majestic water views on the rear side of the double-sized home site while infusing plenty of Lowcountry aesthetic, from asymmetrical exterior gables to abundant porch space.
“We have worked on a number of combined-lot projects in Palmetto Bluff. It is a great opportunity when it comes along, but it also adds a little extra pressure to do something extraordinary for our owners” said President William Court. “Fortunately, we had great clients who were willing to think through each detail and take the creative ride with us.”
Tones and textures combine in ingenious ways to lend comfort and hominess to the home’s smaller spaces. In the year ahead the Kuzloskis look forward to welcoming their first young family guests when their three grandchildren visit Palmetto Bluff for the first time and break in the bunk room.
The result is an expansive layout that blends intentionally modern details with both timeless and reclaimed Lowcountry elements.
“When we started designing the project back in 2015, we were not seeing as many requests for this crossover modern style as we do now. Donna and Rob were ahead of their time,” Court observed.
Every room in the house has a water view, yet each room also has its own character.”
– Donna Kuzloski
The intuitive design features sprawling wings housing a garage and carriage house on one end and the opulent owner’s suite on the other. At the center of the massive footprint, the great room unfolds with soaring ceilings and spectacular reclaimed oak trusses.
“Those large timber beams were definitely challenging to install,” said Edwards, adding with a laugh, “They’re solid wood and unlike typical box beams, they’re extremely heavy.”
Among other challenges was sourcing native finishes incorporated in the great room’s statement fireplace. Interior designer Kelley McRorie chose a hand-glazed ceramic brick keystone to offset the Savannah gray brick framing the fireplace. A soapstone surround adds more contrast, in addition to elegance, to the beckoning hearthside.
“There are strategically blended finishes and textures throughout the home,” McRorie said. “In the master suite we added a surprising touch of traditional walnut to the fireplace mantle. The kitchen’s Francois range hood features a mixture of wood, metal and stone,” she pointed out.
One of McRorie’s favorite “defined spaces” is the front entry staircase wall where a series of individual black textured wood tiles are mounted with brass nail accents, creating visual drama and a lasting impression.
“The tension of dark and light inspires a more subdued, stately aesthetic that resonates with an authentic river community,” McRorie shared. “It also gives definition and intimacy to smaller contexts within a grander scheme.”
The Kuzloskis have embraced McRorie’s impactful contrasts and thoughtful palette choices throughout their home. “We have the best of both worlds, whether entertaining indoors or outside,” Donna notes. “The views – and experiences – from any point of view are spectacular.”
The Home Team
Builder: Element Construction
Tile: Savannah Surfaces
Cabinetry: Palmetto Cabinet Studio
Hood & mantel: Francois & Co.
Wood flooring: Ziel’s Antique Flooring
Hardware: Bird Decorative
Plumbing fixtures: Cregger
Interior Design: KS McRorie Design