Home Discovery: 'Tara' on the May River

08-2011-hd-livingroomBrett and Tara Warthen’s Gascoigne Bluff Road home, Hidden Oak, is special in many ways. For its panoramic views of the May River. For its theater, swimming pool, screened-in porch, climate-controlled wine room, chef’s kitchen (with three islands) and kids’ playhouse. For its dock on the river, and its second-floor, house-length balcony — just to name a few.

The Warthens and their son and daughter, Bryce and Kelsey, also have plenty of room to grow. The house, designed by John Pittman III and built by Casey Ricks of Baywater Properties, weighs in at a hefty 8,251 square feet, including the carriage house, four-car garage and apartment, which Brett uses as his office.

“We call it beefy,” Tara quipped. “It’s very distinguished, and when you see it, you know it’s a John Pittman design. He has that ‘large’ signature.”


The Warthens bought their lot in the small Gascoigne Bluff neighborhood in 2007 but didn’t start building until 2009. “It was a long road,” Tara says. “I had no idea going in what is involved in building a house, but everyone we’ve worked with has been wonderful.”

The family had long wanted a home with wide open spaces, going so far as to eliminate an original plan for a formal dining room and opt instead for informal gathering places and airy 12-foot ceilings. The “screened-in porch” is a living space that incorporates a traditional outdoorsy patio with a comfortable indoor feel, and includes living room furniture, entertainment center and small kitchen that overlooks the pool area and the May River. “We spend a lot of time out there,” Tara says.

“We didn’t really start out with this all in mind, but it’s John Pittman’s style: big,” she said. “We definitely built for entertaining, and we love our views of the river.”

The kids’ playhouse out in the yard is also perfect for entertaining young visitors. “We’ve also installed an intercom system — every house this size should have one,” Tara said. There’s even an elevator to the attic.

As contractors were preparing the home site for construction, they found, tucked inside the pines in the front, a lone live oak. That became the inspiration for the home’s name: Hidden Oak. “(The tree) sits right in the middle of the circular driveway,” she said.


  • Builder: Casey Ricks, Baywater Properties of Hilton Head, Inc.
  • Architect: John Pittman, III
  • Interior Designer: Cindy Munn, J Banks Design Group
  • Flooring: Doug Gilman, Gilman Floors
  • Landscaper: Eric Thompson, Horticultural Services
  • Lighting/AV/Entertainment:
  • Jeff Barnett, HomeFX
  • Pool: Premier Pool and Spa
  • Cabinetry: Wil-mington Cabinets
  • Carpentry: Frank King, PowerKing, Inc.
  • Painting: Julio Martinez, JVJ Services
  • Framing / playhouse construction: Duncan Nettles Construction
  • Plumbing: Henry Plumbing
  • Roofing: American Master Roofing