American House of the Year 2006: spacious and welcoming
Our home of the year combines the best of many worlds; it is located in a resortlike setting and comprises relaxed yet elegant interiors. Builder Kevin Kalman, architect Sanford Byers, and interior designer Millie Powell teamed up to plan, build, and decorate this new classic in Daniel Island, South Carolina, a golf-course community near Charleston that boasts a considerable year-round population.
The 7,800-square-foot house wraps a corner lot and has a center courtyard tailor-made for outdoor living. The home’s interior is divided into activity zones: On the first floor there’s a wing for the master suite, as well as a stretch of informal entertaining spaces including living room, kitchen, breakfast nook, and media room; on the second floor there’s a playroom and three bedrooms.
“For continuity, I specified a warm, neutral wall color throughout the main living areas,” says Powell, who characterizes the overall decor as “transitional,” meaning a blend of modern and traditional. “In this monochromatic scheme, tone, texture, and pattern are the main decorating tools.” This is evident in the living room, where she mixed a floral sofa with striped chairs in shades of beige and a natural-colored sea-grass rug.
In the kitchen, which is open to the formal dining room on one side and the breakfast nook on another, the designer varied the placement of and finishes on semicustom maple cabinetry, achieving the look of an unfitted old-world space at a fraction of the cost. “We wanted an open feeling, so there are very few upper cabinets,” Powell says. A cream-colored glaze on most of the built-ins, a beige backsplash composed of 6-inch-square natural stone tiles, and oak floors contribute to the room’s overall light appearance and balance the classic black granite countertops. To make up for the lack of overhead storage in the kitchen proper, there are two 3½-foot-long walls of it in the adjoining butler’s pantry. In addition, Powell specified a china cabinet near the breakfast bar. Its solid doors match the rest of the cabinetry, while a medium-tone maple finish and golden-hued granite serving surface provide pleasing contrast.
The kitchen has plenty of informal-dining space, with a 42-inch-high eating bar for three and a breakfast nook with a cherry-wood table that seats six. Custom-designed stained-glass transoms, one beyond the nook and another between the kitchen and butler’s pantry, emphasize the 10-foot-high doorways, admit extra light, and have the appeal of cherished family heirlooms. “Along with the other interior finishes, they lend traditional flair to the house’s very up-to-date plan,” says Kalman. Dentil crown molding and turned legs on the kitchen side of the bar and beadboard facing on the other side complement the decor in adjacent spaces that open to this room. “Such details also add a custom dimension that’s unexpected.” says Powell.
The formal dining room is the most elegant space in the house, as evidenced by such furnishings as a double-pedestal mahogany table with claw-and-ball feet, loop-back mahogany chairs, and a crystal-trimmed chandelier. With views of the community’s 18-hole golf course, located across the street, the room is also the showpiece of the home. “The space has lots of 10-foot-high windows and very little wall area, so we filled in with draperies,” says Powell. Running wooden rods with rings around the perimeter of the room allows the billowy gold silk panels to soften the corners of the space; when the pinch-pleat curtains are open, the effect is that of dining inside a romantic, glass-enclosed pavilion.
The airy, pale green master suite is tucked away at the rear of the first floor, with views to the backyard and outdoor-kitchen pavilion. “We intended to set it apart from the rest of the house, creating a peaceful, meditative space with his-and-hers bathrooms and a study,” says architect Byers. Two sets of French doors lead to a private deck that’s perfect for savoring a cup of coffee while enjoying the morning sun. The entire suite is paved with natural stone tiles, which Powell topped with a pastel Oriental rug for warmth. In a nod to Old Charleston, the room is dominated by a reproduction 18th-century mahogany four-poster—but in a contemporary king size befitting today’s tastes.
1. The layout facilitates flow throughout the indoor as well as the outdoor living spaces. There’s access from the front entry directly to the interior deck off the living room. The formal dining room is tucked behind the kitchen and butler’s pantry and the media room is at the opposite end of the wing. The entire west side of the first floor is devoted to the master suite.
2. A formal stairway near the breakfast nook and an informal staircase near the back of the living room lead to the second floor, which houses a game room with a kitchenette, two children’s bedrooms with attached baths, and a full guest suite.
In the Know: Decorative Painting
“Most people forget about the ceiling,” says artist Leslie Sinclair, owner of Segreto Finishes in Houston, Texas, who, with paint and stain, gave the “fifth wall” of this dining room a decorative flourish. To add a sense of age to the new house, she made the diamond-patterned ceiling beams look like heavy antique supports by using a dark-stain technique called faux bois (French for false wood). Then she painted on a delicate gold-and- orange floral design above the chandelier. The pattern’s elongated diamond shape mimics the beam layout, and the colors complement similar tones in the drapes and the needlepoint rug. “Guests linger and tend to look up in a dining room,” she says. “Here they’ll have something to look at.”