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Dated Palmetto Dunes home now an example for energy efficiency.

homepaldunForget for a moment that their abode is a multimillion dollar summer rental separated from the ocean by nothing more than rolling dunes and an elevated swimming pool. The Becker Family from Pennsylvania nonetheless confronted the same questions facing other Hilton Head property owners uncertain about the future of domiciles starting to show their age.

Was it time to consider alternative digs as a recession-battered housing market began to stabilize? Or how about some essential improvements geared at making the place more comfortable and cost-efficient for the long-term future?


Get Jammin’

Enjoy tunes outdoors by having an outdoor sound system installed. If you currently have an indoor sound system, the outdoor system can be added fairly asily. But again, the budget options for outdoor speakers cross a broad cost spectrum. If you don’t have the financial ability to have permanent speakers installed, consider using an mp3 player attached to a portable speaker. This option actually might be preferable if you would like to be able to move the music to different area’s of your patio or yard for different outdoor events. You can even take a portable outdoor speaker to the beach with you!

HOME---OpenerWhen nature lovers of the All Saints Garden Tour arrive at the Rose Hill home of Alex Kasten, they’ll soon discover that this art lover has taken his discerning eye for line, form, and beauty and turned it into a backyard masterpiece drenched in Mediterranean appeal. He calls this deep emerald temple “Elysian Gardens.”

With landscape designer Patrick Judd, Kasten has surrounded his home with small elements of visual punch, curved walls that guide the eye from one botanical wonder to the next, and an oasis of peace and tranquility that would make the Gods jealous.  

DiningRoom As you approach River Camp, the Spring Island home of Jim and Betsy Chaffin, the world recedes away from you in layers.

It begins on the main road onto Spring Island, a thin ribbon of pavement winding beside old pheasant fields and under the branches of Live Oaks. The next layer falls when the pavement runs out, and you find yourself on a hard-packed dirt lane, scarcely larger than a car and seemingly transplanted from some far-off rural plantation. And you keep going. Through forests that grow ever denser, you keep going.

small-livrmHead out down the twisting, spanish moss-draped streets of Callawassie Island, and you might come across a house tucked in the woods whose tin roof and simple lines look like many of the other beautiful homes in this island community.

But look under that roof, beneath the concrete floors, and you’ll find a world of difference in this house — you’ll see the high-tech system that harnesses the power of the planet to heat this home. You’ll see rainwater being triple filtered before it hits any waterway. And that’s just a couple of the cutting-edge eco-friendly enhancements you’ll find in the home of Be Green Packaging’s Marc Blitzer.

Blitzer’s Bosch geothermal heat pump adjusts as needed to cool or heat the 2,300-square-foot home. The system uses the nearly constant temperature of the earth to provide air conditioning, heat and hot water through a system of closed looped tubes buried to a depth of six feet and circulated through a heat pump, which Blitzer has in his attic.


Interior design is about much more than picking the right curtains or the right furniture. It’s about creating a comfortable space, a space where families create memories, a space that is warm and inviting.

Two interior designers from the award-winning J Banks Design Group on Hilton Head Island took some time with Monthly to talk about what goes into the process of creating that perfect space.

byrd_00104Kitchen No. 1:
Subtle and subdued


The Designer

Deb Van Plew is originally from Chicago and attended Purdue University. She has been on Hilton Head since 1993 and has been with J Banks for 12 years.



exterior03The view has barely changed through the front windows of Bluffton’s Pine House from the time it was built in 1903 until today. Looking out over Heyward Cove and the May River, the occupants could watch the mist melt off the water or catch sight of fishing vessels passing by.

Nestled amongst the Spanish moss-draped trees near the end of Boundary Street, the Pine House was built by Savannahnian Dr. Freeman Valentine Walker. It later passed into the hands of Gaillard and Lucille Heyward, who bought the property in 1943.

The Heywards, whose early South Carolina ancestor Thomas Heyward Jr. signed the Declaration of Independence, enjoyed rare indoor plumbing and the only concrete basement in Bluffton. Following the death in 1992 of his mother Lucille, the late Thomas G. Heyward inherited his childhood home. He and his wife Joan researched the possibilities of salvaging the building and restoring it to its original condition.


Web extra: Scroll down to the bottom to enjoy a slideshow of photos from before and after the rebuilding of the Pine House.


“We felt like we were entrusted to save it for future generations,” said Joan. “Tommy felt like his parents would have wanted that.”

dixon_night_outside-kitchenToday’s home expansions break down the walls, add multilayered decks, fire pits and weatherproofed TVs.

Ask most transplants why they moved to the Lowcountry and the answer will invariably be “the weather.” Those who now live here were once chased indoors up north by cold, snow and daylight hours swallowed by 9-to-5 jobs.

Whether newcomers are still working or have come to retire, most count themselves fortunate to have discovered what the locals call paradise and are taking full advantage of the warmer clime.
That sometimes means rethinking how and where families choose to relax.

“Back in the day it was always about how big the house was. People were going from 3,000- to 4,000-square foot homes in order to have a larger living or family room,” said Scott Littlejohn of HB Panoramics on Hilton Head Island. “What we’re finding now is people are increasing their living space by building a living area with a pool, a kitchen – somewhere you can have some fun, especially during the long days. It’s why they moved here in the first place.”

hd-2012-10-exteriorComfort and relaxation are as much a part of this Palmetto Bluff home as fat oysters and barbecue are in the Lowcountry.

The award-winning residence on Wilson Row, just off the square, was the recipient of three 2012 Aurora Awards, a design competition of the Southeast Building Conference.

Architect Wayne Windham designed the three-story house as part of a six-unit development, offering buyers a couple of different plans to fit the small lots.

Spring Island homeowners blend old with new for casual comfort.

No detail was too small for the architect, builder, cabinet maker or homeowner to include in plans for a two-bedroom home on Spring Island.

With a sense of being both stewards of the land as well as of their home, the owners chose to use reclaimed materials and repurpose other items when planning.

Tucked in next to part of the community’s 3,000 acres of wildlife preserve, the 2,911-square-foot home greets visitors with a large and welcoming screened-in front porch. The beautiful mahogany doors can be hooked open for a more expansive feel – insects permitting.