Newly constructed and renovated homes in the Lowcountry are warm and welcoming, with at least a dash or two of striking focal points.
Luxury homes in our area are that, of course, and much, much more. Custom everything, from the finest craftsmanship in trims and finishes, imported hand-painted tiles, century-old reclaimed wood and brick from long-ago forgotten Southern mills and warehouses, oversized floor-to ceiling windows, marble in the master bathroom, splendid indoor and outdoor fountains, custom-carved banisters, dormers peeking out through a copper roof, and a natural stone fireplace glowing in the outdoor living space.
Luxury is not ostentatious in the Lowcountry, because our homes are not cookie-cutter designs like the Northeast or the Midwest, where square footage matters more than substance and attention to detail. There’s a sense of grace and subtlety without pretension down here. We know luxury when we see it and admire it with subtle gasps.
These days in the Lowcountry, this feature rivals the finest indoor kitchen for its functionality, aesthetics, versatility, convenience, durability and sheer pleasure of the good life outdoors with friends and family.
Long gone, of course, is the stand-alone grill, a bag of charcoal, a few chairs and a table or two. For a $100,000 or more, homeowners are installing high-end multiple grills, like a built-in Viking grill with side sear burner, smoke drawer and rotisserie; a Primo ceramic charcoal grill for grilling, smoking, baking and roasting; an Italian Mugnaini wood-burning pizza oven with a firebrick floor; stainless steel appliances; a cooking island; custom stone sinks; a built-in twin-tap front Kegerator for storing and dispensing your favorite beer or white wine; dishwashers; utensil storage; weather-resistant cabinets; built-in refrigerators; and built-in table cooktops.
Often adding to the outdoor ambiance are a wood-burning stone fireplace, a hand-constructed oyster shell firepit, rafter-mounted heaters, state-of-the-art sound systems and light-emitting diode lights that change color around the pool or water fountain.
Decks, patios and pools
The gateway to nature comes from natural woods, concrete and stone, like cut pavers in varying sizes to create a dazzling visual display. Add some dramatic stone seating and garden wall designs and pathways, lush flowerbeds and shrubs, a water feature, and decks, patios and poolscapes become outposts of luxurious civility.
Brazilian hardwoods (tigerwood, Ipe, Cumaru and Garapa) are well-known for their durability, strength, resistance to decay, elegance and rich color tones. Bamboo, teak, cedar, redwood, mahogany and cypress all are admired — and understandably so — for their stability and attractiveness.
Travertine probably leads the way as the natural stone of choice in the Lowcountry because of its variety of colors, three finishes, richness and luxuriousness. Many homeowners gravitate toward brick for its multiple patterns, colors and size variation.
Decorative concrete coatings can add a luxurious touch to pool decks, garages and balconies. Others earmark flagstone, slate, limestone, granite and cobblestone as foundations for their patios.
Free-standing lamps, riser lights in the steps and post-cap lights in railings provide safety and mood.
Regardless of which materials homeowners choose, all elements have to flow and connect seamlessly from one to the other. The individual pieces have to become a single body of work of top-shelf design and craftsmanship for maximum impact.
When it comes to luxury swimming pools, the sky is the limit. From fountains to statues to waterfalls, homeowners can transform any ordinary pool into an elegant retreat.
Besides open floor plans that promote sight lines to the informal dining room, great room, outdoor patio and beyond, high-end cabinetry and appliances are surging in popularity.
Consider installing, for efficiency and a “wow” factor, two Sub-zero (or Viking or Wolf) refrigerators, two Bosch dishwashers, refrigerator and warming drawers disguised as normal cabinets, in-wall wine-pouring devices or full-size wine refrigerators, a steam oven with its own direct water line, and a six-burner, commercial-grade Russell with a barbeque that vents outside.
Custom-built butler pantries are smaller kitchens unto themselves, with sinks, coffee and tea stations, storage and prepping space.
New kitchens are likely to showcase stainless steel as countertops, a walnut island with agate top for a furniture look, exotic wood veneers, white marble, wood and commercial-grade glass tile, copper sinks and range hoods.
Lighting fixtures like chandeliers, sconces and pendants dazzle the eye with exquisite finishes and design details and illuminate as individual pieces of art.
Other luxury details:
- Ultra bathrooms. Pampering comes naturally inside walk-in showers with multiple showerheads, rainfall ceiling showerheads, massage jets and steam showers tucked inside tempered glass, along with sauna wood panels, chromotherapy lights and an aromatherapy system. Add some personal touches like heated flooring, towel warmers, touchless toilets and custom wall and ceiling finishes for a spa-like retreat.
- Metal roofs. The sky is the limit when deciding which material, design and style to select. Steel, aluminum and copper metal roofs can complement any Lowcountry, historic, transitional or contemporary home design. This durable, low-maintenance cover also protects against thermal expansion and corrosion from the coastal, salty air.
- Brass. This finish is making a big comeback in lighting fixtures and kitchen and bathroom hardware. This is not your grandmother’s brass that was polished or lacquered; today’s brass is unfinished, well-worn and a time-honored classic piece of hardware.
- Quartzite. This natural stone has found a lofty niche that natural granite and manmade quartz used to occupy — and still do in huge numbers — as the material of choice in many Lowcountry luxury homes. Don’t worry marble, you’re not being neglected.
- Large, oversized windows.In the Lowcountry, homeowners love to bring the outside in with floor-to-ceiling windows in the great room that display gorgeous views of the lagoon, golf course or ocean.
- Luxe metallics. Warm metals like gold, copper and bronze are nudging their way into the kitchen, even though silver, stainless steel and chrome are still a preferred choice for many.
- Mud rooms. Sure they’re functional for hanging coats and slipping off pluff-muddy shoes. But today’s luxury home tranforms a mud room into a room of substance with heated floors, built-in storage space, washers and dryers, and Fido’s comfort zone for lounging.
- Custom-carved deck railings. These elegant and intricate designs in any number of weather-resistant exotic hardwoods or wrought iron complement a luxury-laden deck with their signature look.
- The smart home. From their smartphones or tablets, homeowners can lock and unlock front-property gates, heat up the sauna, dim lights, adjust temperature control, turn security cameras on or off, and connect devices and appliances to communicate with each other … inside or outside of the home.
- Coffered ceilings. These sunken decorative ceiling tiles in a square or rectangular shape are bordered on all sides by deep or shallow beams. Custom crown molding and precise detail make a dramatic visual statement, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Luxury homes in the Lowcountry are personal statements of living the good life in style.