Creating Character

Worthy of an epic best-seller, this new Lowcountry home takes its cues from old regional architecture and well-crafted features. You’ll be inspired to bring this oh-so Southern look to your house.
Robert Martin

Many celebrated works of literature take place in and around great houses that embody as much dramatic impact as the characters themselves. In Wuthering Heights, two imposing English manors―the first for which the book was titled, and the second, Thrushcross Grange―serve as the catalysts for Heathcliff and Catherine’s ill-fated romance. For Rebecca, the countryside estate, Manderley, practically steals the show. And not to be overlooked, who could deny the pivotal role that Tara plays in Gone With the Wind? In similar fashion, if a sweeping saga were written about Spring Island, South Carolina, Dan and Merrie Boone’s marshlands home would surely take center stage.

Amid thickets of palmettos and wax myrtles, its lush setting holds enough enticement to pen a compelling opener. “Neither Dan nor I are from this area, but we kept hearing about Spring Island from family and friends,” explains Merrie. “We decided to visit and knew immediately that we wanted to make this unique place our home.”

Approached by a meandering gravel road, the couple’s retreat reveals itself little by little through a canopy of ancient live oaks and Spanish moss. The anticipation builds with glimpses of white Doric columns and broad porches. Finally, as the drive flows into the parking court, the house’s classic, perfectly proportioned exterior comes into full view.

Going by the Book
Inspired by the antebellum Lewis Reeve Sams house in nearby Beaufort, the Boones’ house displays a time-honored presence, even though it’s newly built. “The home’s front appears very formal because it’s designed in the Greek Revival style, which emphasizes a strict use of symmetry,” explains architect Aaron Daily of Historical Concepts.

Overseen by the firm’s principal Jim Strickland, Aaron achieved a balance between function and authenticity. To keep it from appearing too rigid, the design duo added small, one-story extensions on each side of the main core to suggest that the house had evolved over the generations. Other elements―such as double-hung windows and elaborate door surrounds, complete with sidelights and fanlight transoms―are hallmarks of this architectural period.

Merrie encouraged Jim and Aaron to take a more relaxed approach when designing the back of the house. As a result, formality gives way to breezy screened and open porches overlooking the marsh. “This is our favorite place to gather with friends,” says Merrie.

Beyond the Cover
Just as balanced determination guided the exteriors, the same holds true inside, yet with a more subdued approach. “Because of its fine woodwork and detailing, this house had the possibility of being overwhelming,” states interior designer Ruth Edwards. “That’s why we went in the opposite direction. We purposely chose a nonfussy, clean look for the interiors.”

Throughout the main floor, cypress-planked walls and trimwork are bathed in almost effervescent colors that flow seamlessly from one room to the other. “All the colors were inspired by a lampshade that Merrie saw on the cover of a magazine,” explains Dan.

The Boones gravitate to the openness and easy flow of the first floor. The driving force for the interior’s progression from formal to casual is the surrounding vistas. “We wanted lots of glass so that the natural setting would become part of each room,” says Dan. That’s why windows, French doors topped with transoms, or a combination of both fill the rear walls. The couple can also survey the marshlands from their master suite.

Happily Ever After
Every time we walk through the house, Dan and I notice something Jim and Aaron designed that we hadn’t seen before,” says Merrie. What better place for this couple to start a new chapter than laid-back living in the Lowcountry.