Todd Hawk and his family-owned company H2 Builders in Bluffton have been building beautiful custom-designed homes in the Hilton Head Island area since 1996, many in the traditional or transitional Lowcountry style. And that style is becoming more popular than ever.
But perhaps none of these spectacular homes are as quintessentially Lowcountry in every exacting detail as the one he built for himself, his family, extended family and friends in the small town of Pineland in Jasper County.
“It’s very authentic,” said Hawk, who designed the residence with local architect Thomas Hiatt. “We love the Lowcountry style.”
This casually sophisticated 3,500-square-foot home serves as a rustic getaway retreat from the family’s permanent residence on Hilton Head, less than an hour’s drive away. It’s more than just a homey and comfortable four-bedroom (including one with bunk beds), four-bathroom home, with a grand fireplace in the great room and a fire pit made from a cast-iron maple syrup vat in the backyard.
The property merits being called a plantation — and it is; welcome to Hawk Plantation — because of the enormity of the land: 300 acres flush with countless live oaks and a bounty of timberland, a handful of fresh water lagoons for fishing and 15 acres tilled for seasonal cropping, all bordered by 1,000 acres of government-protected land.
“In so many ways, it’s a great retreat,” said Hawk, who usually makes escapes to his retreat weekly. “We take the kids up there and expose them to the wildlife … it’s in the middle of nowhere with no cellphones. We do everything up here.”
Frequent guests at the home include Hawk’s 14-year-old son, Hunter, and his friends, extended family members and a variety of friends and family who enjoy socializing and the outdoor life as much as Hawk does. The clan fishes, shoots sporting clays, goes four-wheeling and hunts for turkey, duck and deer in season. Every now and again, Hawk and a startled guest might experience a close encounter of the natural kind with a wild boar near a swamp at night.
“It’s a little bit different environment than Hilton Head,” he said.
One of the country experiences that Hawk is reliving now from his days growing up on 15 acres in his native Tennessee is ringing the same bell his mother used on the porch at dinnertime. He and his sister and their friends would rush home from wherever they were in the outback. His sister refinished the original bell and gave it to Hawk as a present last Christmas.
“If you heard the bell, you had to come home,” Hawk said. Now, many years and a generation later, when his son and his friends hear that bell, they “have to come home.”
Hanging out at home can mean sitting comfortably in rocking chairs on the wide front porch or comfortably lounging in the expansive screened-in back porch, two distinctive Lowcountry architectural details that Hawk retrieved from 100 years ago, as is the metal roof. The long driveway consists of a plantation mix (granite and sand) and winds its way to the front door pathway and adjacent carport. There is no garage.
“I would definitely say it’s a very true, authentic Lowcountry architectural style,” Hawk said. “We tried to make sure the house looked like it had been there (a long time). People say, ‘It looks like it’s been there forever’… that was our goal.”
Inside the home, reclaimed oak flooring anchors the open floor plan downstairs, climbs the stairs and spreads lengthwise in the hallway upstairs. The kitchen flows into the informal dining room, which extends into the comfortable 25-foot-high great room. A massive chimney made of reclaimed brick from a North Carolina cotton mill secures the extra-wide fireplace in the great room.
In the custom-designed kitchen, which offers space to prepare food and socialize with guests, granite with a leathering process for durability from Distinctive Granite & Marble stretches across the island surface and wall countertops. Custom-made, Shaker-style cabinetry by the Cabinet Gallery integrates seamlessly with state-of-the-art appliances from Billy Wood Appliances.
“The sink looks out onto the back, the fire pit and an incredible view of the field that we plant every year that wraps around the entire house,” Hawk said.
Reclaimed oak box beams grace the great room and the vaulted back porch, and detailed shiplap butt board creates visual texture on the downstairs walls.
Hawk’s wife, Tracy, designed the home’s interior and blended the old with the new with custom-made furniture, furnishings, accent pieces, lighting fixtures, rugs, bookcase decorative arts and personal keepsakes, etc.
“Tracy did some really unique things,” merging comfort, style and functionality, Hawk said.
Although the Hawk home is steeped in Lowcountry charm and historical tributes, Hawk and his team also plugged in the latest energy-efficient products and systems, along with installing advanced “smart” bells and whistles. With a swipe or two on his cellphone, Hawk can easily activate the entertainment systems and specialty wiring installed by Audio Video Experts, security and camera systems, lighting and climate control.
The Hawks and family and friends are living in the moment, with deference to the old and embracement of the new. They exchange island life for the country life barely an hour from home. They’re living the Lowcountry life.
Todd Hawk, H2 Builders: builder
Thomas L. Hiatt: architect
Low Country Shelving and Glass: shelving and glass
Billy Wood Appliances: appliances
Tracy Hawk: interior design
Grayco Building Center: supplies
EAC, Inc.: heating, venting and cooling
Audio Video Experts: specialty wiring
Antique Heart Pine Flooring: flooring material
Cabinet Gallery: cabinets
Distinctive Granite & Marble: solid surfaces
Floor Fashions: carpet
Building Specialties: fireplace