The Strauss House: Palmetto Bluff Style
Sea Pines family finds perfect luxury getaway home a short distance away.
Story by Dean Rowland + Photography by Clayton Girard
It’s a short drive from Mackenzie and Peter Strauss’ everyday life at their Hilton Head home to the serene coastal calm of Palmetto Bluff for a weekend getaway. Yet, the two homes offer different Lowcountry lifestyles.
“It’s (Palmetto Bluff home) very casual, not pretentious at all,” said Lisa Whitley, an American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) designer for J. Banks Design Group on the island, where she has worked for 10 years. “It’s a very classic, quintessential, Lowcountry river house. When you come in, it feels like you can sit back and relax. It feels like a vacation home.”
Although the homes are only about 45 minutes apart, the homes are very different in their feel.
That’s exactly what the Strausses wanted when, in 2015, they sat down with KRA architects in Bluffton and builder Full Circle Development in Ridgeland. Whitley joined the team as the architectural planning was winding down and construction was amping up.
The Strausses and their four young children have enjoyed their four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom, 2,530-square-foot home at The Pointe village community almost every weekend since they moved in just before Thanksgiving of 2016. Their coastal residence is twice as big as their Palmetto Bluff home.
“We wanted a contemporary feel but a very relaxed getaway, where you would feel comfortable sitting in any area,” said Peter, owner of the Strauss Law Firm. “My favorite room is the screened porch. I can start a fire in the fireplace, put on a ball game and relax outside. It’s real nice and has a traditional Lowcountry street view. Palmetto Bluff is like a timeless, classic neighborhood so you can look out from the porch and see the brick sidewalks, see the kids eating ice cream on the front porch.”
Picture a Norman Rockwell painting; Americana with a flavor of Southern comfort.
“This was a place where they have holidays, Thanksgiving, and a lot of their family will be coming to the house to stay with them,” added Whitley, both an interior and exterior designer.
Peter, a Kentucky native, said one of the joys of living at Palmetto Bluff starts at the entrance.
“The best part about it is when you pull into the gatehouse at Palmetto Bluff. There’s an instant feel of relaxation. You feel at home immediately; it’s very comfortable.”
Home includes some of the walls with a blank canvas hue, which brings a pop of color and works great for artwork and furnishings. Vintage rugs are used throughout, giving the look of old and new.
“That’s what makes the home really cozy,” Whitley said.
The living room is joined with the airy kitchen in the open floor plan. An antique Persian rug (with splashes of red, blue, green, yellow and orange) is coupled with a modern marble fireplace. Modern side chairs blend seamlessly with a neutral-colored couch and vertical traditional shiplap on the walls.
There is not one dominant color in Whitley’s palette, largely because, “Mackenzie (a Hilton Head native) likes color. She’s not scared to use color at all, which was fun for me.”
Custom-made, blue with gray undertone cabinets showcase the kitchen, along with double-laminated, waterfall-edge countertops. The four-seat island features custom-made reclaimed wood cabinets underneath for storage.
White marble countertops stretch between the built-in appliances on either side, and a painted white brick backsplash shows an aesthetically pleasing backdrop.
“It’s traditional material brick used in a completely non-traditional fashion to make it more modern,” Whitley said.
Billy Wood Appliance, the iconic island store since 1972, created a “cook’s dream” kitchen with stylized and highly functional, high-end products, co-owner Mike King said.
The top-of-the-line kitchen is complete with Thermador appliances that include a refrigerator column, a freezer column, a raised double oven, a 36-inch range top and a 42-inch range hood. There’s also a 24-inch, built-in wine column, an under-counter wine refrigerator, a microwave drawer, a warming drawer, a dishwasher and a built-in Miele coffee system.
A handful of black window frames strategically positioned “invoke an old iron window feeling,” while the window coverings are neutral with linen or a natural woven shade.
The downstairs master bedroom anchors one wing of the home and a guest bedroom occupies the other side.
“We did a modern take on the traditional board back detail, so instead of vertically, we did the back horizontally. In between each batten, we applied a wall treatment that actually is made of horse hair to reflect the community’s equestrian life.” Whitley said.
The master bathroom described as “very modern, monochromatic and clean,” features large mirrors with hanging pendants instead of traditional lighting fixtures. The glass shower door slides along a barn door track for easy access.
Reclaimed red and white unstained barn oak flooring adds an unpolished natural feel and look throughout the home. Several reclaimed oak beams nudge the ceilings between the kitchen, informal dining room and living room.
“She nailed it,” Peter said of Whitley’s vision.
When Whitley joined the project early on, she made some architectural changes, such as enlarging the kitchen and adding valuable storage space here and there.
“One of the elements we had to work with was smaller spaces that we had to give multi-function,” she said. “We needed a lot of storage because the family has four kids who are all very young.”
One notable example is in the living room, where concealed storage space behind the walls replaced the more traditional Lowcountry touch of built-in bookshelves on either side of the fireplace. Additionally, a wine refrigerator peeks out from underneath the stairwell.
Overall, the interior design effectively blends several architectural styles.
“It’s modern Lowcountry, a lot of modern, rustic, traditional and industrial elements,” Whitley said. “I tried really hard not to make it too modern, because I thought that would be too trendy.”
The home team
Interior Design: Lisa Whitley, J. Banks Design Group
Builder: Full Circle Development
Appliances: Billy Wood Appliance
Plumbing: Cregger Company
Flooring: Specialty Floor
Countertops: Kelca Counters