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A Personal Note From The Editor

With more than twenty-five years as a published freelancer to my credit, and hundreds of thousands of published words under my belt, I have tried to include a good cross representation of past articles in order to showcase my style of writing.

In addition to crafting numerous anonymous blog posts and website content each month for a wide range of clients, I am also a featured monthly columnist for Fete Greenville and a Forbes Travel correspondent. 

Thank you for stopping by and if you have a need for my particular style of writing, or just enjoyed what you read and would like to comment, please feel free to contact me at: leeann@leeanncarter.net. I am available to travel, photography is available upon request and rates are based on subject matter and word count.

www.EastCooperBuilders.com Will Make Your Life Easier (published in Realtors’ Who’s Who East of the Cooper)

Whether you’re moving to the Lowcountry from another state and building your dream home, remodeling the family homestead or updating your office decor, http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com can help make the job easier.

Full of comprehensive information, with links to local architects, builders and home decorating companies, http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com is easy to navigate and offers all the resources necessary for designing, constructing and furnishing your home or business.

Are you unsure how to selected the right architect? http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com offers a list of Coastal Carolina architects and a handy guide containing useful questions and facts to help you choose the architect best suited for your project.

Information about the Top 10 Coastal Carolina Builders is available at http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com. Each builder profile includes a brief bio, diagrams of the builder’s number one selling floor plan, contact information. and a link to the company website. From the comfort of your own home or office, you can discover who is tops in the Charleston new home construction market and see how their company philosophy translates into outstanding customer satisfaction for you.

Do you need help choosing colors or fabrics, or do you simply want some up-to-date decorating tips? Check out the Inner Beauty section which includes new product information and helpful hints on transforming your home into a true reflection of your life. From lighting to home furnishings, to gardening tools and plants, to decorative door hardware, the Inner Beauty section lists Charleston area companies ready to assist clients with all their home and business decorating needs.

As http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com, you will also find a complete relocation package featuring local maps, a copy of the latest Carolina Homes & Interiors magazine and information from some of the area’s leading builders.

Do you have a golfer in the family? http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com has an extensive directory of golf courses located East of the Cooper as well as throughout Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. You will also find interesting articles on golf legends Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and others.

For up-to-the-minute weather information on Charleston, simply bookmark http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com, where you will find Lowcountry weather forecasts in addition to tidal charts and breaking weather bulletins.

At http://www.eastcooperbuilders.com, you also can access a plethora of exciting links to other coastal South Carolina communities and retirement villages, real estate and lodging information and an offer for a free issue of Carolina Homes & Interiors magazine.

Increasing Numbers of Parents Seeking Educational Choices For Their Children (published in Realtors’ Who’s Who East of the Cooper)

In today’s competitive job market, parents know that a quality education can help guarantee their children a secure future. With this in mind, an increasing number of parents are seeking educational choices that give them an active role in how and what their children are taught.

Regardless of the circumstances, relocating to a new area is a stressful event. For families with children, the stress level can be multiplied by uncertainty about the educational climate. In many cases, information about an area’s public school system is readily available on the Internet or in relocation guides, but the same information concerning private or independent schools can be a bit more elusive.

The Charleston, S.C. area has a proud history of outstanding independent school. Some of them, such as Ashley Hall and Bishop England, have been educating Lowcountry children since the early 1900’s. Others have been established more recently, with the growing influx of people relocating to the tri-county area fueling a substantial rise in the number of independent schools now serving the educational needs of pre-school, kindergarten, grade school and high school children throughout the region.

Parents choose independent schools for many reasons. “Independent schools give parents a choice. We are different than public schools, with different goals and ideas,” says Jill Hiers, executive director of the Charles Towne Montessori School.

Most independent schools focus on a specific academic or religious mission and almost all offer smaller classes than those found in public schools. This equates to a lower student to teacher ratio, a stronger teacher and parent commitment and more personalized attention for each student. For example, the average class size at Porter-Gaud is only 14 students.

Some institutions have grown to include daycare for children as young as 12 months, extended after-school care for students of working parents and summer camp programs.

Unlike private schools of the past, today’s independent institutions offer more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. A wide and varied number of extracurricular activities, from band and choir to all types of athletic programs and even cheerleading camps, are being offered on most independent school campuses. “Our baseball team won the 2A South Carolina state championship this year,” says Phyllis Beach, a spokeswoman at Northside Christian School.

Since independent schools are self-supporting, they must charge tuition and other fees. But because cost is a factor for some families, many schools offer scholarships, tuition rates based on a family’s ability to pay, flexible payment plans and discounts for families that have more than one child at the school.

The Lowcountry is now home to more than 100 independent schools, giving parents a wide variety of educational opportunities. Located throughout Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, all are within an easy commute, and some even offer transportation.

 

Coastal Comfort

The winning combination of a homeowner with definite ideas, a cooperative architect and builder, and an exquisite seaside site makes this Debordieu retreat the epitome of comfortable coastal living. Text: Lee Ann Carter. Photography: Ted Borg. Interior Design: Faye Harrington Altman. Architecture: Steve Goggins. Landscaping: Patrick Pernell. Builder: Ron English. 

A seaside community with plenty of amenities to keep two active teenagers busy attracted this family to Debordieu Colony. “I was looking for an area not too far from our primary home in North Carolina. I also wanted a place that was on the water and had lots of fun things to keep my children occupied,” the owner says..

While the design phase took six to nine months, the actual construction process for this 8,800 square-foot home, was approximately one year. Architect Steve Goggins, President of SGA Architecture says, “This owner brought definite ideas to the table, she wanted clean open living spaces, lots of natural building materials, and a sense of privacy and seclusion. It was demanding at times but in the end her ideas resulted in a better house.”

Ron English, Vice-President of Construction for Paragon Builders remarks, “This home was challenging through and through but it was also a wonderful experience. Anytime we ran into a design vs. construction problem, the owner was very receptive to corrective solutions.” For example an important part of the family are the dogs, A Boykin Spaniel and a Lhaso Apso. Since the dogs are crate trained, a space was needed for their kennels and accessories. English custom designed and built into the laundry room cabinetry dog kennels complete with cultured marble shower pans for easy cleaning. “These dog crates were a great idea and the dogs love them,” says the owner.

Designed as a techno/smart house, all lighting, heating and cooling, and security can be controlled via phone lines while either at Debordieu or from North Carolina. For example, returning for a sunset cruise, the boat lift dock lights can be activated with one cell phone call.

Since the owner wanted the home as secluded as possible, the entire building footprint was utilized. “We had several functional issues due to county restrictions and existing flood zones,” notes Goggans. “But through meticulous planning and working hand-in-hand with the builder and landscape architect we were able to give the owner everything she requested.”

With residences on each side, natural screens were created for privacy by planting low maintenance wax myrtles, Yaupon hollies, American hollies, and sable palms among the existing vegetation. Patrick Pernell, Landscape Architect with SGA Architecture observes, “When the plantings reach full maturity the home will be completely and naturally secluded from the main road and the neighbors.”

This owner desired a casually comfortable coastal second home with an emphasis on easy entertaining. From the main level rear covered porch overlooking the marsh, clearly defined areas flow from multi-level upper decks all merging together effortlessly. The zero water line pool designed by Pernell and built by Aqua Blue Pools frames an open gazebo. A Gloster teak table and chairs casually arranged in front of a wood burning fireplace are perfect for outdoor dining.

Presenting another design challenge was the owner’s request for a fully functional outdoor kitchen. Building materials were required to be durable as well as visually pleasing. Ipac wood, normally an outdoor floor decking material was used in constructing the kitchen cabinetry. Stainless steel appliances include an icemaker, dishwasher, and refrigerator along with a Viking grill, wok, and warming drawer. Again, for durability, custom outdoor lighting fixtures were fashioned with powder-coated stainless steel shades.

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A screened outdoor dining area is easily accessed from both the interior and patio kitchens. Old fashioned rocking chairs are the perfect spot for enjoying the water views. 

Clad in Eastern cedar white shaker siding, accented with hand cast brick, and using traditional Lowcountry staircases, Googans describes the overall home design as eclectic shingle style.

In the two-story open foyer, the focal point is a circa 1825 pine tri-sliding glass buffet, complete with the original glass. Originally in one of the owner’s previous homes, designer Faye Harrington Altman, owner of Harrington Altman Interiors remarks, “It was a given that this piece would be in the Debordieu home. It was one of the first antiques I ever found for the owner and when we started planning this home that was one of her first questions, “Where is the pine piece going?The tri-level main staircase located to the right between the entry foyer and main living area helps to create a unique visual effect along with maintaining a clean uncluttered sight axis from the front door to the rear tidal creek. An additional reason for the unusual location of the staircase has to do with golf carts. Since golf carts are a main mode of transportation on Debordieu, it was necessary that an area be created for cart storage. Requiring only half as much room as a regular garage bay, Goggans finished the area in front of the golf cart bay as the garage stairwell. In keeping with the owner’s request for open space it was a natural progression for the additional stair levels to be constructed in the same area. Goggans says, “These floating stairs offer a special dynamic articulation.”

An antique hand-carved pond yacht circa late 1800’s is prominently displayed on the custom knotty pine mantel. Sanford upholstered sofas and chairs in soothing sages and rusts frame the cozy fireplace. 

Entering the well-appointed living room with its two-story dropped beam poplar ceiling, the continuity of theme and materials is evident from the custom designed crown cove molding used throughout the home to the bow front of the interior second level balcony. This bow front, a subtle nautical reference, is repeated on the exterior rear porches. Honey finished heart of pine flooring blends perfectly with the knotty pine cabinetry designed by Classic Touch and lends a warm glow to the soft pate wall color used in the main living areas. “I really like knotty pine, it adds such a cozy feeling to a room, ” the owner says. “In fact, some of the boards weren’t knotty enough, so we had additional knots faux-painted.” Bill Blakely, owner of Classic Touch comments, “I was lucky to work with a client who allowed us to be so creative.” This project worked so well because of the tremendous amount of communication between all parties involved.” Subtle rust, sage, and olive Stanford upholstered sofas and chairs are highlighted with soft gold. Occasional tables were chosen for size and placement. Mingling antiques with more conventional pieces, as seen in the antique trunks resting in front of the fireplace, helps to create a sense of permanence sometimes hard to achieve in a new residence. The owner declares, “Faye is awesome! I didn’t really know until I started looking at fabrics what I wanted. Faye was able to take the colors I kept coming back to and tie everything together!”

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Window treatments from Old World Weavers frame the living room French doors. Custom cove molding between the second level wall of windows, living room French doors, and transoms add a unique visual effect. 

Designed with a user-friendly flow for entertaining, the breakfast room and dining room are separated by a functional and stylish kitchen. Knotty pine cabinetry, again designed by Classic Touch, is topped with Uba Tuba granite and a slate backsplash. The Uba Tuba granite chosen has a slightly different coloration than most Uba Tuba and only four slabs were available. “That made the job a bit tougher; there wasn’t much room for error,” Says Altman. Travertine was selected for the center island. All these different textures create a unique look and work well together.

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The breakfast room is reminiscent of one in an English country estate with varying shades of rust, sage, gold and khaki found in the Freemark chair seats and Schumacher window treatments. 

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The main level guest suite is painted a relaxing shade of goldenrod, with bedding and window treatments by Old World Weavers.

The breakfast room, kitchen, and dining room blend varying shades of black, gold, sage, khaki, and rust in the wallpaper, window treatments, and chair fabrics. Lee Jofa and Schumacher fabrics cover the dining room chairs and highlight the color palette of the Thibaut window treatments and cottage green walls. The rest of the main floor is home to a guest master suite and an additional guestroom.

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A subtle nautical theme carried throughout the home is seen in the bow-shaped second floor interior balcony.

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The master suite soaking tub rests on terra cotta porcelain slate. 

On the second level are the children’s suites, their entertainment room containing a computer center, the owner’s study complete with a fireplace trimmed out with the same cove molding seen throughout the home, and the primary master suite. This master suite includes a fireplace, his and her dressing areas, double vanities, and serves up a spectacular view of the north Inlet.

The third level was designed for entertaining! A study/media room decorated completely in knotty pine raised paneling includes three sets of French doors, again knotty pine faux-finished, and a private balcony. Located at opposite ends, under the room eaves, are the gameroom and a complete home gym. English mentions, “The owner knew exactly where she wanted the exercise equipment located. While this room was being roughed in we were able to run additional HVAC ducts over the treadmill and stationary bicycle.”

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Top left: Two hand carved pine Arte De Mexico chandeliers are antique finished to blend with the heart of pine floors and knotty pine cabinetry. Top right: From the spectacular rooftop deck, the view is unhindered and far-reaching – all the way to the Atlantic Ocean! Bottom left: An antique wrought iron gate has found new life as an objet d’art wall hanging. Bottom right: Designed for entertaining, the rear patio has a fully functional outdoor kitchen dining gazebo, and rimless pool. 

Inside the third floor elevator alcove, a staircase leads to the spectacular rooftop deck. Goggans had originally envisioned a cupola leading to the roof. When height restrictions wouldn’t allow its construction, he had to do some creative thinking in order to gain roof access. Goggans designed a conventional staircase leading up to a stainless steel roof hatch. Push one button and the motorized hatch rises up and access to the roof deck is gained. With an Atlantic Ocean view, comfortable cast iron chairs and ottomans by Pompeii, a surround sound stereo system, discreet outdoor lighting, and easy access to the third floor powder room and wet bar, it’s clear to see why once the idea of a roof top deck was discussed it had to become reality.

This Debordieu dream home is a prime example of what can be accomplished when everyone involved is open and receptive to overcoming the challenges custom home building brings to the table. This owner and her family have certainly found their coastal comfort here.

Developments/Lee Ann Carter

ROSE DHU CREEK PLANTATION

Harkening back to an easier way of life, Rose Dhu Creek Plantation reminds you of lazy summer afternoons spent rocking on Grandmother’s front porch, shaded by grand live oaks, their branches draped with lacy Spanish moss gently swaying in the warm breeze. Photography: Ted Borg and Jay Vaughan.

For many Lowcountry areas, the building boom of the 90’s has begun a shift from clear cutting large land tracts and building homes within mere feet of one another, to a more environmentally responsible plan of development. And nowhere along the South Carolina coast is that more evident than at Rose Dhu Creek Plantation.

Located only four miles from historical downtown Bluffton, Rose Dhu Creek, a saltwater tidal creek, is home to egrets, wood storks, wild deer and the occasional alligator. Named by early Scottish settlers, “dhu” is Gaelic for black, and refers to the color of the brackish currents that flow from the May River.

Originally part of the 6,000 acre Buckwalter tract, Rose Dhu Creek Plantation was initially envisioned as a golf course. Stephen Anthony, president of the Legacy Group, developer of the tract, upon realizing the number of moss draped grand oaks, towering pines and other indigenous trees and planting which would be destroyed in the process, decided to shelve that plan. Desiring the community’s input on what potential homeowners were seeking in a development, he placed an ad in the local Bluffton newspaper. Overwhelmingly the responses included large wooded home sites secure within a gated community along with an equestrian center. And thus the 264  acre Rose Dhu Creek Plantation was conceived. But David Lively, sales executive with the Southern Lifestyle Group, exclusive listing agents for Rose Dhu Creek, is quick to assure the golfing homeowner, “There are 44 golf courses in the Bluffton-Hilton Head area; all within an easy drive from Rose Dhu Creek Plantation.”

Sensitivity to nature began with the initial infrastructure. Roads are eight inches of crushed granite and all utilities are located underground, eliminating unsightly wires and poles. Wherever possible, as roadways, home sites and the Equestrian Center were being cleared, grand oaks, wild crepe myrtles and native marsh grasses were protected. The end result is 73 estates, ranging in size from one acre to almost five acres, skillfully planned around the natural elements.

While each home has to be approved by the Rose Dhu Creek Architectural Review Board, the community allows a great of flexibility when it comes to personal preferences. In fact, on estates two acres and up, private paddocks are allowed and dogs aren’t required to be leashed while on your property. Rose Dhu Creek believes in many more freedoms than restrictions. Tree houses and front porches; vegetable gardens and horses; these are just a few of the differences found at Rose Dhu Creek Plantation.

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Rose Dhu Creek is a refreshing departure from the developments that have been popping up everywhere in the last ten years. Here, there are no houses that sit right on top of each other. Plenty of room to breathe-and play- is available. 

Complementing Rose Dhu Creek, two man-made, freshwater lagoons were created and will be stocked with bass, bream and catfish. These small lakes are the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon of fishing or picnicking.

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Rose Dhu Plantation is a wonderful community for families. It offers more than horses and room to run. The creeks and lagoons offer an excellent opportunity for fishing, crabbing or exploring in a kayak. The community pool-complete with bath house-and outdoor pavilion also draws families outdoors for active fun. 

Handy with a cast net? Rose Dhu Creek is ideal for shrimping and crabbing. Plus, it also offers homeowners a place to try their hand at kayaking and canoeing. No individual or community docks will be allowed in order to preserve the natural setting around the creek.

Centrally located and convenient to all homeowners is the community pool and outdoor pavilion. Complete with a bathhouse and barbecue area, this is destined to become a great neighborhood gathering spot for oyster roasts and pool parties.

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During the planning stage of Rose Dhu Creek, the Legacy Group placed an ad in the local Bluffton paper seeking input from the community on what potential homeowners were seeking in a development. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of large wooded home sites as well as an equestrian center. 

Horses are a big part of the Lowcountry, and Rose Dhu Creek was designed so that horses feel as much at homes as their owners. The 20 acre Rose Dhu Creek Equestrian Center is state of the art! Professionally managed by Tracey Martino, the equestrian center offers riding arenas, paddocks, and one of the best constructed and equipped barns of its size on the South Carolina coast.

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The plans for this property originally involved putting in a golf course. The large number of moss-draped oaks and other indigenous flora convinced Legacy Group president Stephen Anthony otherwise. 

Tracey hails from California and has been a part of Rose Dhu Creek since February 2004. Her furniture wasn’t the only thing Tracey moved to the Lowcountry. Over a dozen of her own horses, an Australian sheep dog and several “barn” cats, came with Tracey  and her mother and co-manager, Dee Dee Martino. This mother and daughter team created and managed a successful training barn before moving South.

 Tracey’s philosophy is “you never stop learning,” and on a regular basis continues her own education so she can manage and teach to the best of her ability. Tracey also plans on offering on-site dressage clinics with Amy McElroy and a Downunder Horsemanship Clinic with renowned horseman, Clint Anderson.

Designed and constructed by Legacy Construction, the barn has over 14,500 square feet and includes over thirty-two 11′ x 12′ stalls, four tack rooms, two grooming and wash bays, a lounge and restroom with shower for patrons, and a convenient manager’s office. Upstairs there is a spacious apartment for the on-site manager along with an educational center adjoining a covered porch overlooking the arenas and paddocks. Each of the 32 stalls was designed with the latest equipment insuring each horse’s comfort, including individual cooling misters for those hot and humid Lowcountry days.

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The Rose Dhu Creek Equestrian Center offers riding arenas, paddocks and one of the best equipped barns on the South Carolina coast. The barn has over 14,500 square-feet and includes four tack rooms, two grooming bays and a lounge and restroom with a shower for patrons. 

Presently the Equestrian Center includes run-in sheds with cooling misters, an all-weather round pen, farrier shed, an all-weather dressage area and an all-weather jumping area. Tracey says, “The Rose Dhu Creek Equestrian Center is not only beautiful but very function. Mr. Anthony had the facility designed and makes all decisions pertaining to the center based on what’s best for the horses.”

Construction recently began on the 20,000 square-foot indoor arena. When complete, this area will be used for judged horse shoes, night-time riding, and events scheduled during inclement weather.

Rose Dhu Creek also offers over six miles of eight foot wide nature trails. Riders can spend the day exploring the surrounding woods and creeks without ever leaving the Rose Dhu Creek boundaries.

Rose Dhu Creek Equestrian Center is not reserved strictly for plantation homeowners. Area residents have the opportunity to use the facilities for boarding, lessons and training. Summer riding camps are offered and open to the public as well as vaulting classes and membership into the local chapter of the United States Pony Club.

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Californian Tracey Martino was imported to South Carolina to manage the 20 acre equestrian center. Along with her expertise, Tracey also brought along her mother, Dee Dee Martino, as her co-manager. 

Presenting large lots at reasonable prices, Rose Dhu Creek is quickly on its way to being completely sold out. An additional 60 acres have recently been optioned and will be marketed in the near future. Owners also have the flexibility of purchasing their home sites now with no time limit on building. Rose Dhu Creek Plantation is not a second-home or investment community. Appealing to a diverse group of local Lowcountry residents, Rose Dhu Creek Plantation is home to growing families and working professionals. And with full-time homeowners comes a sense of community not found in many Lowcountry neighborhoods with a large percentage of out-of-state owners.

Homes in Rose Dhu Creek Plantation are reminiscent of days gone by with wide covered front porches, river rock fireplaces and upstairs balconies designed to capture the late afternoon summer breezes. While the Architectural Review Board is quite lenient, contemporary and futurist building plans need not apply. “Rose Dhu Creek is all about a more relaxed way of life and we want the home to reflect that by having a gracious southern Lowcountry traditional design,” says Lively.

Legacy Construction, a subsidiary of the Legacy Group, constructed the first home, appropriately named Seven Oaks, on over two acres directly across from the Equestrian Center. Built for the discriminating buyer, this 3, 780 square-foot home, reminiscent of a turn of the century farmhouse, can be purchased along with the adjoining property for a total of almost 6.5 acres. Complete with a full-length covered front porch, second floor exterior balcony, rear screened porch accessed from both the kitchen and great room, large rear deck off the master suite and great room, this custom home also offers a formal dining room, study, spacious kitchen with breakfast nook and separate laundry/mud room.

A great room fireplace, heart of pine flooring, custom cabinetry, granite and marble countertops and custom mouldings throughout, make this home special.

The three car garage is connected to the main house by a covered walkway. Topping the garage is a 720 square-foot guest suite complete with full bath and coffee bar.

Professionally decorated by Kay Buck, owner of Interiors by Kay Buck, Seven Oaks in very much a country gentlemen’s estate. “The captive charm of the development inspired the interior,” Buck says. “Along with the obvious equestrian touches there are also many subtle references to the overall aspect of gracious country living.”

Legacy is now in the planning stages with two additional homes for sale.

Each home built in Rose Dhu Creek is a custom home and while Legacy is the preferred building, as long as plans meet ARB approval, any builder may be used. Square footage requirements start at a minimum of 2,000 square-feet and increase depending on lot size. Each home is specifically tailored to the site allowing for maximum retention of trees and shrubs.

Whether it’s fine dining, a gourmet grocery store, cutting edge medical care or places of worship, new homeowners are always concerned about local services and amenities. Residents of Rose Dhu Creek Plantation have the added advantage of Bluffton, a quintessential riverfront village, only minutes away. The larger more sophisticated Hilton Head Island with its numerous golf courses is less than half an hour and the big city of Savannah is a relaxing forty-five minute drive. For those with growing families, the community of Rose Dhu Creek is only two miles from the new Bluffton educational campus.

Rose Dhu Creek Plantation offers privacy, peace and serenity at an affordable price. What could be better than experiencing the soul of the Lowcountry surrounded by love oaks, a stunning marsh view, sleek horse and the knowledge that Rose Dhu Creek has been carefully developed with long-range preservation goals incorporating sensible land development, care and concern for the environment and promoting a simpler, gentler way of life.

For more information on Rose Dhu Creek Plantation please call David Lively or Steve Anthony at (843) 815-2500. To find out more about the Equestrian Center, Tracey or Dee Dee Martino can be reached at (843) 757-2927.

Developments/Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Park West

Along with breathtaking natural beauty, Park West also has that “small town charm.” Designed to respect nature and providing amenities and services normally not found in most neighborhoods, Park West has become one of the Lowcountry’s premier communities.

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Already a signature landmark in Mt. Pleasant, the entrance to Park West offers calming pools, sparkling fountains, lush foliage, and brick walls scripted with the Park West name. Welcoming and graceful, blending into the natural beauty of the land, the main entrance of Park West showcases the carefree and serene lifestyle found within. 

Remember as a child riding bikes with your best friend who lived right next door? Now with a family of your own, haven’t you wished your children could walk to school or ride their bikes to the pool or tennis courts? Wouldn’t it be wonderful on a lazy fall afternoon if the whole family were able to enjoy a walk to the local ice cream parlor?

Welcome to Park West! A magical community with neighborhoods, schools, a sports complex, jogging trails, bike paths, a planned marketplace and so much more!

Conceived in 1996, Park West, located in Mt. Pleasant, just north of Charleston, is set on 1700 acres of prime Lowcountry property. Bordering Toomer and Darrell Creeks as well as the Wando River, Park West has over 4 1/2 miles of waterfront property and also includes 250 acres of saltwater marsh and 292 acres of freshwater wetlands. From its inception, the developers, Bill Bobo and Pat Tomlin were committed to the “town within a town” concept. Realizing that people were seeking more quality family time and less commuter headaches, Bobo and Tomlin worked to create a community where a family could work, play, attend school and shop while never having to drive onto a major highway. While zoning allows construction of multi-family and single-family homes, in addition to office/commercial property, Park West, has developed each stage with a keen sense of protecting the environment. Zoned for 6,000 residences, Park West envisions no more than 2,800 homes when fully developed. This spectacular site features massive moss draped oaks, rustling palmettos, grand pines, and swaying marsh grass, alive with herons, egrets and deer. Roads as well as building sites have been mapped out to follow the natural lay of the land. Sensitivity of the preservation of wetlands as well as Park West’s mission to safeguard the abundant vegetation and forests within has made them a pioneer in residential development.

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Meandering throughout Park West is the Wando River, along with tidal creeks, salt marshes and freshwater wetlands all preserved and protected to maintain the integrity of Mother Nature. Imagine enjoying the sunrise with a steaming cup of coffee, or the thrill of your child catching their very first fish from your own personal dock! Each waterfront home site comes with approved dock corridor plans. 

A development as unique as Park West deserves a unique entrance and at a cost of over one million dollars, the Park West entrance is spectacular! Lining the incoming and outgoing roads are twin tiered pools fronted by elegant brick walls showcasing the Park West name. Entering Park West, the water gives the impression of reflecting pools. Actually because of the natural topography of the land, each pool is tiered, creating waterfalls, which feed into the next level. At the end of the entrance the pools culminate with three cascading fountains. Using Chinese elms, weeping willows and magnolia-leaf hollies, the landscaping is simple yet elegant, reflecting the serene and calming environment which lies within.

Once inside Park West you notice a distinctive European flair in the use of roundabouts or one-way traffic circles. The roundabouts complement the natural beauty by eliminating overhead traffic signals as well as slowing traffic and helping the flow.

Of particular interest to homeowners with growing families is the 105 acre educational complex. Jules Deas Jr., Director of Sales for Park West told me, “Children attending our state of the art elementary and middle schools are being offered cutting edge technology which is reflected in their academic performance. And having the schools actually located inside the community has certainly fueled sales!” A brand new high school slated to open in 2004 is being constructed adjacent on Hwy 17.

Mt. Pleasant Recreation Park is located inside Park West on 59 acres and includes a football/soccer field, a baseball field, a multi-purpose athletic field as well as a community center which hosts a variety of activities from continuing education classes to seniors’ programs. The fields are lighted, restroom facilities are available and parking is plentiful. In the works is an additional baseball field and runner’s track. While the recreation park is open to the general public, the residents of Park West benefit since it is located only a short bike ride, relaxing walk or brisk jog away!

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Along with football and soccer fields at the Mt. Pleasant Recreation Park, which is conveniently located inside the Park West development, is the newly constructed 4,000 square foot community center. Complete with kitchen and restroom facilities, this versatile building is home to a variety of adult and children’s programs. 

A junior Olympic pool with bathhouse, kiddie pool, summer kitchen and toddler playground are available for homeowners to enjoy at the Park West Amenity Center. As the community continues to grow, tennis courts, an outdoor concert area and two additional pools will be constructed as rooftops dictate.

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During the summer the whole family can take advantage of the junior Olympic pool complete with gazebos and a full service bathhouse. As development at Park West continues tennis courts and additional pools are planned. 

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Time to put your toddler in his stroller and take a leisurely walk to the Park West Amenity Center. He plays on the tot lot while you help plan the neighborhood oyster roast to be held at the adjoining summer kitchen. 

The Park West community will build out at approximately fifteen neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm. With the emphasis on Lowcountry design, the attention to detail combined with the beauty of the land makes these neighborhoods a welcome respite from the outside world. Each neighborhood has a themed entrance, some with fountains, which correspond with the main entrance. Natural buffering provides privacy as well as architectural harmony for each area. No matter what your housing needs, Park West offers it! multi-family neighborhoods featuring elegant townhomes and patio homes are included as well as pre-designed single-family residences and distinguished custom built homes. With 22 custom builders and 4 national builders including Centex Homes, D.R. Horton, David Weekley Homes and Beazer Homes, potential homowners have the option of purchasing an existing home for immediate occupancy, working with an approved builder to custom design their dream home, or using a builder of their own! Park West is truly a community for all of life’s stages and budgets, with homes ranging in price from the low $100K’s to over a $1 million. All waterfront homesites have pre-approved dock corridors for future development. All homes, whether site or custom built are constructed with a detailed list of criteria from the Park West Architectural Review Board in order to produce an atmosphere of compatibility. Deas said, “Park West has two ARB boards each which include an architect and meet on a weekly basis to address issues in a timely manner.” Strict adherence to architectural standards as well as approved builders who follow these rules have contributed greatly to the success of Park West.

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From the beginning, Park West developers worked hand and hand with environmental specialists to make certain that roadways and home sites were constructed following the natural lay of the land. Architecturally distinctive homes, meticulous landscaping and seasonal perennials and annuals enhance each neighborhood. 

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Spacious lots, home sides designed with sensitivity to nature, wide streets with sidewalks, bike paths and jogging trails, Park West’s neighborhood range from patio homes to custom-built waterfront estates. Suited for growing families as well as “empty-nesters,” prospective homeowners have the option of an existing home or working with a custom builder to create the “home of their dreams!”

Taking cues from a “Mayberry” style of small town life, which revolves around a center town square, the proposed marketplace will be a quaint village built to reflect “Lowcountry Charm.” Architectural features such as peaked roof, dormers, windows and doors shaded with colorful awnings, and old-fashioned chimneys, will highlight the intended “town within a town” concept. While future plans include bringing in a national anchor tenant, more immediate retailers will be specialty shops and cafes, along with service businesses such as dry cleaners and personal care salons. These will be ground floor tenants. Second and third floors will be utilized as offices for physicians, accountants, and other professionals, along with unique one-of-a-kind apartments. This diverse mix will create a self-contained community, meeting the needs of all residents.

The actual town square will be a neighborhood park and pavilion where residents can sit and leisurely visit with neighbors or just people watch.

Park West is the community of a life-time. Designed for homeowners of all ages, from growing families to busy executives to downsizing retirees, Park West has successfully created a blueprint for small town living combing a plethora of amenities with careful consideration for Mother Nature. Park West, the epitome of what Lowcountry living truly is all about.

South Carolina Home “Quiet Elegance” November-December 2001

 

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Winner of the Charleston Trident Homebuilder’s Association 1997 Prism Award for Best Resort Home, the Cowart residence is very symmetrical. Farris Cowart of Osprey Construction Company, the builder of the home, was involved in every detail. 

Seabrook Island, a setting of beauty and serenity. Farris and Jackie Cowart have certainly captured the essence of the island as well as incorporating their own ideas and tastes into a home than can best be described as “quietly elegant.”

Hidden from the main road behind a natural screen of wax myrtles, magnolias, live oaks, oleanders and ligustrums;  positioned as if the building process disturbed nothing, sits the Cowart’s 4,000 square foot Lowcountry Vernacular residence. Architect Wayne Windham told me, “While the Cowart home isn’t what one would call a true Lowcountry home, its roots and origins are Lowcountry based.”

Retaining the majority of mature vegetation was a primary goal of the Cowarts. John Hires of Three Oaks Landscaping mentioned, “We tried to retain the natural look of an old pasture, which it used to be. The rear of the property overlooks Horseshoe Creek and the mature live oaks were left in place to provide a shady canopy. Shrubs and plants were planted for different seasonal interests.” The placement of the home was dictated not only by the existing vegetation but also by the view. Every room except for the dining room and master bath embrace the panoramic marsh view.

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The rear porch has a spectacular view of Horseshoe Creek and the surrounding marsh. White wicker furniture with relaxing blue and white cushions invite you to sit and enjoy the tranquility. Baskets of ferns along with other thriving plants give testimony to the owner’s “green thumb.” 

Turning onto the drive, which was designed to wrap around the existing wax myrtles, you are greeted by a Stylus Lucas brick “welcoming arms” staircase. Lined with concrete planters bursting with shades of fall color, the staircase beckons you to the welcoming front verandah. This verandah, flanked on either side by bow windows, showcases the perfect symmetry of the home. Stately white Tuscan columns offset the richness of the classic mahogany front door and transoms.

Upon entering the soaring two-story foyer it becomes apparent that Farris, Owner and Partner of Osprey Construction Company, Inc. and his wife Jackie, a retired high school business education teacher, have created a graceful home full of warmth and comfort. A stunning hand-rubbed gold chandelier is the centerpiece of the entrance way. Capturing the different shades of gold from this chandelier are two Chinese inspired lamps resting atop a mahogany and granite Ralph Lauren console table.

Conveniently located off the foyer, the powder room is one of my favorite rooms! On a trip to the North Carolina Mountains, while browsing through an old junk store, Farris spotted a 1920’s dining room buffet with serpentine side doors. A master craftsman, Farris purchased the buffet for a future project. Deciding that it would make a perfect powder room credenza, Farris refinished it with crotch mahogany, then added brass hardware and a Kohler Artist Edition handpainted flowered sink with matching floral faucets. Picking up the rich reds, Jackie chose an eggplant hue for the walls.

The towel rack adds a touch of the unusual! The top part of an antique dresser mirror frame, it has been refinished and pegs added, making it stylish as well as functional. “I like the rustic look of the towel rack with the elegance of the rest of the room,” Jackie told me. Another unique touch is the antique copper calling card stand.

Entering the sophisticatedly appointed living room through two sets of Tuscan twin columns your eye is immediately drawn to the custom fireplace mantel. Designed and constructed by Farris, the detail work is exquisite, making it truly a work of art! Built-in bookcases along with dental moulding and window cornices are more examples of Farris’s talent and craftsmanship. From the Maitland/Smith ostrich leather cocktail table to the Jacobean animal print chairs flanking a gaming table, this room is filled with unique and eclectic pieces. The soothing palette of reds, olives and golds is accented by Jackie’s collection of Spode and Flow Blue china.

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In the living room, overstuffed reading chairs are positioned to enjoy the fireplace. Three sets of French doors leading to the rear porch help bring the outdoors in and allow for an unhindered marsh view. 

Natural outdoor light reflects through the wall of French doors that lead to the tiered rear porch. The level nearest the house is shaded and has a wrought iron table and chairs perfect for brunching al-fresco. Comfortable white wicker chairs complete with blue and while cushions invite you to sit and enjoy the relaxing marsh view. Located on the lower tier and convenient to the kitchen through the breakfast nook door is Farris’s custom designed BBQ grill. This state of the art gas grill and side burner is recessed into a cedar shake cabinet with Spanish cedar doors, a Mexican tile counter and rustic hardware. More of Farris’s handwork is evident in the unique plant stands he has created from antique sewing machine bases with Corian or granite tops.

With the kitchen, breakfast nook and sunroom to the right of the living room, the house flows nicely and is very “user-friendly” for entertaining. White cabinetry with white Corian offers a nice contrast to the cherry center island and its Verde Fontaine granite counter. Tiled into the backsplash to the right of the sink is a colorful cornucopia of flowers and fruits overflowing a graceful urn. Over the center island is a light box constructed of cherry featuring a custom designed stained glass panel. Artist Susan Suffel told me, “The stained glass design is what I envisioned the top of the tiled flower urn to look like if you were gazing down on it.” Windows surround the sunroom and breakfast nook filling them with natural light and maximizing the spectacular view. Along with the entire house, this room is filled with plants. “Before Farris and I married I had a greenhouse and I wanted our home to reflect my love of plants,”Jackie said. A cozy room perfect for watching TV or curling up with a good book, the sunroom features a Lillian August settee in shades of red, gold and pumpkin which coordinate perfectly with the two Drexel Heritage wing chair recliners and a round reading table with a chenille paisley topper. An antique sewing machine found scattered in pieces in an old garage, was painstakingly reconstructed by Farris and is on its way to becoming a treasured family heirloom. The bamboo paddle fan brings a touch of the islands to the room. “I like to throw in the unexpected,” said Jackie. Resting on the window cornices, adding holiday cheer are Farris and Jackie’s collection of a Dickens Christmas Village.

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The center cherry island with custom stained glass paneled light box is a striking contrast to the white cabinetry used throughout the rest of the kitchen. 

Holding court in the stately dining room is a Maitland/Smith mahogany table, chairs and sideboard. A Theodore and Alexander mirror reflects the beautiful Royal Albert Old Country Roses Christmas china. Victorian reproductions of Monkey lamps from Chelsea House along with monkey ornaments and napkin holders add a whimsical touch.

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Rich deep red walls framed with white wainscoting and moulding complement the Maitland/Smith mahogany table, chairs and sideboard. A Theodore and Alexander mirror reflects the beautiful Royal Albert Seasons of Color Christmas china. 

Located at the other end of the home for privacy is the master suite. Calming green seafoam walls with white moulding make for a soothing respite from the rest of the world. All colors and fabrics are soft and peaceful and work well with the four-poster pineapple bed and writing desk. An antique green and blue Oriental rug placed at an angle on the oak stained mahogany hardwood floor complement the chosen fabrics and bedding. Artwork here, as well as through out, is mainly from a Savannah artist, Sharon Saseen Dillon. Since Farris and Jackie are both from the Savannah area, Dillon’s work reminds them of home!

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The E.J. Victor French Legacy four-poster pineapple bed makes a beautiful statement in the master suite. 

Through a dressing area complete with double vanities and a walk-in closet you enter the striking, spacious master bath. The soaking tub is set into the bow of the windows and surrounded by Verde Empress marble which has also been used on the bath floor, creating long sleek lines. Concave shelves are recessed at each end of the tub and hold treasured family heirlooms along with personal pictures and other mementos. A crystal chandelier directly above the tub reflects sparkles of light and color that play around the room. Gazing around this room as with all others it is easy to see Jackie’s passion for loving accumulation. “I don’t subscribe to the ‘less is more theory,’ I buy by instinct, because I know what I want and where I want it to go.”

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This tub is the perfect place to soak away the troubles of the day! Curved shelves at each end of the tub follow the progression of the bow windows. 

Adding an artistic touch on the second floor staircase is a Chelsea House chinoiserie folding screen featuring birds and foliage in shades of black, gold and red.

The upper level houses the Charleston library room and two separate bedrooms each with full baths. While masculine in feel with a leather couch and khaki, beige and deep red striped fabric chairs, the library also has a TV, VCR and computer, perfect for keeping the grandchildren entertained! This room, just like the entire home, contains many antiques in addition to treasured family pieces and “junk store finds.” French doors open to an upstairs balcony, providing another fabulous waterview.

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The upstairs Charleston library holds treasured eclectic pieces that when put together with Jackie’s eye for detail blend perfectly! More of Farris’s handiwork is shown in the design of the fireplace mantel on which rests their collection of Byers Choice Carolers. 

In the guest room on the right hangs the framed marriage certificate of Jackie’s parents. The soothing palette of roses, pinks and creams are also highlighted in the adjacent bath. The guest suite to the left has been decorated in blues, reds and creams and hosts a separate dressing area along with separate bath. This bath, in addition to the usual cabinetry has a unique antique dressing table with full-length mirror and needlepoint antique chair.

Emanating a sense of quiet elegance, and showcasing furniture and collectibles from traditional to French to custom designed one-of-a-kind creations, every pieces in the Cowart home has been chosen and placed with care, concern and love. Definitely creating a home with a heart.