Lowcountry luxury

When a Pennsylvania couple wanted to build a second home in Port Royal Plantation, the realtor who found a perfect half-acre-plus lot for them suggested they meet a certain architect—who in turn suggested they meet a certain interior designer.

Enter Kelly Caron, owner of Kelly Caron Designs and the 2016 LightHouse-award winner for “Best Interior Design,” bestowed by the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association.

“I got involved in the beginning with a design that was an open floor plan, spacious, airy, roomy,” said Caron, who founded her luxury design studio in 2015 in Bluffton’s Calhoun Street Promenade after more than a dozen years in the design business. “David did a good job designing the way the house sits on the lot because it just brightens your look from all angles. It’s just totally different from what you typically see.”


At the time of their first meeting with Caron in 2014, the Espers owned a home in Shipyard Plantation, which they bought in 2010 after visiting the island for the first time 25 years ago.

“We loved it there, and I said to my husband, ‘I want to build another house there someday, somewhere’,” Susie said from her main residence in Erie, Pennsylvania. “We decided that Hilton Head would be the place to do it. We love Port Royal.”

They sold their Shipyard home two years ago, when construction on their new Port Royal dream home was well underway.

“From day one, she was a lifesaver,” said Susie, a former teacher who now works in her husband’s cardiology office. “She had a vision and she knew what I liked — very calm, very casual, light grays and white, and very light and bright. I knew I wanted a Lowcountry look, and I knew I wanted an open floor plan on one floor.”

That’s exactly what the Espers got — and then some. Sklar’s visual and architectural talent dramatically combined with the aesthetically sensitive touch and feel of Caron’s designer sensibilities.

“I feel like every time I walk into this home, it’s the same refreshing feeling — every single time,” Caron said. “It feels light and whimsical and airy. I don’t use the word unique a lot, but this is unique.”

From the outside, the earth-level, twovehicle attached garage with basement is visible to the left as guests walk up the twosided brick stairs to the front door. Above, a window perch on the second floor offers a glimpse of a bedroom where custom bunk beds and shiplap wall board are nearing completion.

Open the front door, walk through the foyer and you’ll find the dining room, kitchen and dining room to the left and the living room with a fireplace to right. A soft corridor leads to the back three guest rooms and master suite. The first floor is elevated about 20 feet to provide the best outside views.

“We have the center (living and cooking) area and the bedrooms on either side, which is really nice,” Susie said.

The downstairs walls show a “whisper” of soft gray with the clean, crisp Chantilly Lace white from the kitchen’s Shaker cabinetry used as the trim color throughout the house. That adds “some brightness against the light gray,” Caron said.

Coverall in the furniture fabrics in the living room brings a “tiny bit” of color into the comfortable living space. The cocktail table, which Caron and Susie found at market, sports some gray with metal bending around the edge.

The white oak wood floors are stained in a dark walnut color to “make everything else really pop,” Caron said, while a large natural oyster shell chandelier hovers above table and six chairs in the informal dining room adjacent to the kitchen.

Dolomite, a type of natural limestone that’s harder than marble, tops the kitchen island, which seats four in highback chairs and perimeter countertops. A crackled ceramic subway tile dazzles as the kitchen backsplash.

“There are casual, coastal elements like the starfish in the upper transoms and the kitchen, and pops of coral and artifacts around the house,” Caron said.

A two-sided glass see-through dry bar next to the built-in refrigerator lets the natural outside light flow inside easily.

Crystal knobs sparkle on the door from the master suite to the master bath, which showcases porcelain tile flooring that looks like marble and his-and-her vanities. Calcutta marble makes its way into the shower flooring, and snow white with gray veining threads the surface of the built-in cabinetry.

Susie usually visits the new vacation home monthly, accompanied by her husband when he can break free from his busy medical schedule. Several times a year, their adult son and two daughters bring their families for a family visit in the Lowcountry-style home.

One of the family’s favorite rooms for relaxing and enjoying the Lowcountry life is a small sitting room off the kitchen with four chairs, a cocktail table and exquisite ginger-foot chandelier. Caron also puts this room on her “like” list.

“It’s one of my favorite nooks in the house; coffee in the morning and wine in the evening with a gorgeous long view of the lagoon” that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, Caron said. “It’s a cool little spot. It’s peaceful and beautiful.”

The family also spends considerable time year-round enjoying the screened-in backyard porch, complete with a fireplace and views of the nearby meandering lagoon, oaks and pines.

Golf, tennis, bike riding, book reading at the beach, and lots of cooking are all integral in the Espers’ life in the South.


Strecansky and Company

Kelly Caron, ASID

Sklar/Michaels Design Group

Litchfield Cabinetry




Play and Gourmet


Bird Hardware

Robin Jones, Antique Heart
Pine Co.

KPM Flooring