It’s become almost cliché to say that someone came to the Lowcountry for a vacation and ended up staying forever, but that’s just what happened when Jim and Liz McGuffey went looking for a place to downsize.

Their decision came quickly after a visit with friends to Hilton Head Island led them to Bluffton’s Hampton Hall. This past spring, they achieved their ideal downsizing in a house that’s around half the size of their old one.

Shelby Stephens and her husband, Joey Charnasky, are your classic outdoorsy Hilton Head types. So when they began building their Indigo Run home in 2010 they prioritized connecting the house with the environment.

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.”

hd-07-2011-poolAt 78 Cumberland Drive in Belfair, fun is paramount. The Bluffton home of Bob Willis and Nancy Winslow was built with an eye on entertaining and enjoying the panoramic views of nature.

The interior and furnishings of the year-and-a-half-old residence were designed by Dean Huntley of Plantation Interiors, who, early in the construction process, became part of an intimate team that worked closely with the owners and contractors.

“I assisted with the view lines, interior design, cabinets, floorings, plumbing and electrical, and then I furnished it. I was fired several times, but always with love,” Huntley joked.

Home Discovery: A Save In Sea Pines

An old Sea Pines dame has been dressed up fit for a ball, and she’s ready to dance again.

But before you jump to conclusions, we’re talking about a renovated 1973 home just past the Ocean Gate on the Atlantic side in Sea Pines.

The home’s former owners were fairly early to the Sea Pines game, having purchased the choice oceanfront plot in the early ‘60s. Now, a couple from Atlanta — physicians with your typical “visited-Hilton Head-and-fell-in-love” — own the home, and after a seven-month renovation, it’s ready once again to be the belle of the ball.

You need only one word to describe the great room in Don and Kim Thompson’s Palmetto Dunes home: stunning.

Home Discovery: Aspiring to greatnessIt’s vast and angular, full of windows, sunlight and vistas of the Palmetto Dunes Golf Course. It’s also pleasantly dominated by a European villa-style limestone fireplace.

Don and Kim Thompson purchased the 3,250-square-foot house in 2004 as a second home and rental investment. “We love Palmetto Dunes — its location, the golf course and the neighbors. It’s close to the beach,” says Don. “We found this home just down the street from where we were renting, looked at it, thought about it for about half an hour and signed the contract.

home discovery / 14 anchor cove court, hampton lakeWhen they moved in, Dianne and Randy Fix’s Hampton Lake home was technically new — even if their favorite parts came from other homes, a textile mill, a barn and a factory.

The couple bought their 3,300-square-foot home at 14 Anchor Cove Court in 2008 after it was built as a spec by Bluffton’s Reclamation By Design, a builder that specializes in constructing new homes and commercial buildings with flooring, beams, siding, wainscoting, trim, brick, stairs and cabinetry from demolished or unused structures.

It’s not often that someone says the favorite part of their house is the front door, but Dianne does so proudly. “Our front door was taken from a Sears Roebuck house,” she says, referring to an old turn-ofthe- century kit. “You know, those old houses you could order from a catalog?”

Getting your patio or deck ready for the spring season is just as important as attending to any room inside of your home. The proper attention now could make the difference between “pretty” and “pretty ugly.”

The 4 Rs of prepping your Lowcountry patioRECLAIM YOUR SPACE

Consider your patio or deck as you would a room in your home. What’s the first thing you’d do to an interior room? Clean it. Reclaim that space with a deep clean of the whole area. Getting in there andcleaning out your patio now will ensure that when the weather gets warmer, you can focus more on relaxing and entertaining and less on mold, clutter and pollen.

Start by moving everything — grills, flower pots, outdoor décor and patio furniture — and clean underneath, sweeping away everything you find there, from leaves to pollen to spider webs to old bugs — it is the Lowcountry, after all. (If you’ve got more winter sludge than usual, you may want to consider a power wash.) Clean all exterior windows of your home that surround your patio, and check for any damage on the surface of your patio that might be a structural or tripping hazard — such things can happen when you’re not looking.

Lowcountry homes: The accents of springThis past winter was an especially cold and dreary one for the Lowcountry, but take heart, because the payoff has finally arrived. Spring is here, the time to usher a sense of warmth and energy into your home by thinking about personal styles, 2011 trends and how you can revitalize your sanctuary with some fresh ideas and a little imagination.

Seasons change and trends come and go, but the basics of our personal style rarely shift. We all have our own ideas about what makes us feel safe, secure and healthy, and it’s important to remember that our home is our sanctuary — not a place to continually keep up with ever-changing trends, but a place where we can indulge in our personal style.

When planning for spring, the first rule is to identify your own style. There are three basic design principles: traditional, eclectic and contemporary. And within each style lies the chance for personal expression and individual choice.

‘Nowadays, it’s not smart to build homes that waste energy. This is the way we have to go.’The water views aren’t bad, of course, but there’s a bigger reason that Ernst and Christina Bruderer chose to build their home in Windmill Harbour: The area, conceived by Charles Fraser with sustainability in mind, is one of the most progressive on the island, one that enables and encourages the kind of eco-friendly construction that is the home’s hallmark. (Photography by Butch Hirsch)

A self-proclaimed “frustrated architect” with a vision for an ecologically friendly home, Ernst Bruderer approached architect Terry Rosser and Chris VanGeison of VanGeison Construction, who had recently built an Earth Craft home in Palmetto Bluff, to help make his green vision a reality — not to be trendy, not to cut power bills, but because, as Bruderer says, “It is our responsibility.”