well-versed in the language of waterways

 

“One of the most amazing things are the egrets and herons that fly up this creek,” says one of the homeowners, gesturing toward a leisurely arc in a small tributary of the Wilmington River. “Where it bends, they bend,” she says.

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Exterior. photo by Beau Kester

By the homeowners’ count, hundreds of birds alight in the nearby lagoon nearly every night, drawing in the next species: dogs. More specifically, their own — and the neighbors’. When they’re not gleefully chasing birds, neighbor pups have taken to stopping by for visits (and belly rubs) inside this lovely, light-filled home, and it’s easy to see why. Consider the 180-degree windows in the living room, displaying those marshes alive with birds; the centuries-old longleaf heart pine floors, emanating warmth and soul; the meticulously placed marble doorframe in the master bathroom; the open-air porch. Taken together, every tiny detail of the home bolsters its charismatic yet easygoing air.

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Living room. photo by Beau Kester

Which is why, of course, amid the swirl of tidewaters in a mellow breeze, the gentle trill of birdsong and the happy-go-lucky mischief of those lovable dogs, it’s the humans who are here for the long haul.

The husband grew up in New Zealand, and the wife is Savannah born and bred. Their childhoods among some pretty spectacular scenery, whether Lowcountry marsh or wild, rugged mountains and beaches, afforded the couple a keen eye for natural beauty, a must for finding this particular lot. They knew they wanted a property with a view, removed from downtown bustle. (They were on to something. The area was near empty four years ago; now, there’s hardly a lot left.) They also chose a unique east-facing view that gets its own special kind of sunset. “We don’t get it in the sky, but streaking across the marsh,” he says.

Kitchen. photo by Beau Kester

When it comes to architecture and interiors, they have plenty of practical experience; this is the fourth home they’ve built together. perhaps more important in achieving the home’s quiet panache is the husband’s previous career as a commercial photographer (his striking, black-and-white works hang in several of the home’s rooms). “Experience helps,” he says, “[but] so does understanding the visual interactions.”

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Indeed, many aspects of the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home are fine-tuned to create the most pleasing visual effect. Its curb appeal is due in large part to a wide, curved driveway that leads on one side to a hidden, two-car garage beneath the main living space, which took “lots of geometry” to get just right. The placement of the house is turned a seemingly imperceptible three feet from its original planned direction and raised 11 feet in the back, drastically improving the view from inside as one looks out onto languid coastal landscapes. Windows, placed at every opportunity, facilitate that view and its accompanying sense of calm. The furniture is a conversation between several centuries, eras and countries of origin: a midcentury dining set, an Italian raffia desk in the office, a 200-year-old heirloom farm table from Exmouth, England. Some furniture was restored by a family member; other pieces are from a custom furniture maker who traded for photographs twenty years ago. peppered in are handmade finds from local shops. And then there are the floors.

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