17 Dewey Sold, 19 Dewey Under Contract

We are pleased to report that 19 Dewey Street is now under contract for sale, which is great news for out client.  Now that the sale of 17 Dewey is closed (as of last week), we can say that this project was a significant success for the investors that trusted us in designing these sister houses.

The new owners of 17 Dewey Street include a prominent member of the City of Charleston's Department of Planning & Neighborhoods.  It is personally validating that a person with oversight of the Charleston's future development would find enough value in our project and potential on the street to buy in.  We are humbled and grateful for this affirmation of our belief and vision for the project.

Many thanks to Carter Rowson of the Cassina Group in representing 17 Dewey in the sale.  Along with buyer's agent Whitney Hanna and our attorney Lenny Krawcheck, Carter did a great job in bringing the transaction together smoothly.

We also could not have done this without the assistance of the good people at NBSC, who were willing to evaluate the project on its merits and agreed to fund the construction 17 Dewey.  Many thanks to a bank willing to lend funds for a speculative endeavor like this one when most banks are understandably hesitant to venture out on a limb.

Finally, all due thanks and credit to Curt Rogers and his team at the The Fielding Group.  Curt did a great job in constructing both residences with a high level of quality and professionalism.  We look forward to the opportunity to work with The Fielding Group again in the future.

17 Dewey Under Contract

I'm very pleased to be able to report that newly completed 17 Dewey St is under contract to be sold. Sister house 19 Dewey remains on the market and would be an excellent and comfortable residence for a family looking to be close to Hampton Park.

Though the 17 Dewey closing remains a ways off, I would like to congratulate my clients on the potential sale.  Curt Rogers, with his company The Fielding Group, has done a fabulous job in constructing both 17 and 19 Dewey.  As a team, I believe that we've played a small part in improving Charleston, the city that we all love and want to see thrive for the next four centuries.  There is no place we'd rather live.

Keeping fingers crossed for an uneventful closing.

17 Dewey Street: Completion

17 Dewey Street in Charleston's North Central neighborhood has been completed.  We're still working through a few final minor punch items and she sure could use a deep cleaning, but we're pretty close to the finish line and glad to be there.  The twin Okame cherry trees featured in the front garden are even giving us an early show to greet the completed residence.  With such a mild winter, spring flowering trees all over town are in bloom.

17 Dewey Street was designed and constructed using many of the techniques and principals of the custom residences that I have been producing for many years.  The Dewey Street residences are Earthcraft Certified, designed to be very energy efficient and friendly to the environment.

As I've written before, it only takes a couple of years in a drafty historic residence to appreciate the value of a well constructed new house.  Who wants to spend another couple of hundred dollars per month to heat the neighborhood.  Here, we used formaldehyde-free insulation that was installed properly to seal the envelope.  Before insulating, attention was given to caulk the potential air gaps in the framing at the corners, bases, and tops of all walls.

Furthermore, the structure was designed to keep all of the duct work and mechanical equipment within the conditioned envelope; this helps to prevent condensation on the ductwork and the moisture problems can result. It also helps to ensure that the equipment does not have to work harder to overcome the extreme temperatures that can occur in the attic and the crawlspace.  Any air leakage from the ducts is kept inside of the conditioned envelope, so no negative pressure issues result.

This kind of thing takes more planning and requires open web wood trusses to make it possible, but it is the best way to construct the house for long term performance and for the benefit of the health of the occupants, both physical and financial.

I'm really happy with the way that the kitchen turned out.  It features lots of counter space with appropriately located outlets and lighting.  A large single bowl stainless steel undermount sink and walk in pantry anchor this highly functional space.  Solid maple doors and drawer faces on the cabinetry were hand-finished with a mocha stain.  Dylan Jackson of World Granite honed and sealed the Kashmere White granite material for the counter tops, which resulted in a great soft and stylish appearance.  The stainless steel appliances from GE help to finish off the kitchen.  I was able to get fabulous year-end pricing on GE's mid-range product line through their limited access direct sales website.  The dishwasher has the controls situated on the top edge of the door so that they are not exposed when the door is closed.  The gas range is fitted with heavy steel grates that span the entire surface.  Along with the refrigerator, the appliances really look great.

The interior trim is another area that turned out well.  Mostly milled from clear poplar, the material and installation of the trim was of very good quality.  For the stair newels and railing, I decided to go with ebonized oak which coordinates well with the oil rubbed bronze door hardware and dark stain of the bath vanities.  The dark wood provides a nice contrast to the predominately white trim and subtle hues of the wall palette.

The bathrooms turned out well with the subtle spa-like feel.  We chose to install stone on all of the bath floors, including the showers where we selected Tuscany Cream marble mosaic material. The shower walls were finished in classic subway tile in a biscuit color.  For the fixtures, we kept it simple with chrome finishes.  A little bit of chrome goes a long way, so the knobs on the cabinets were kept relatively small and unobtrusive.  I selected egg-shaped pulls from Berenson Decorative Hardware to finish off these spaces.

With the assistance of Curt Rogers, the general contractor who did a fine job on these residences, we were able to capture and utilize some of the spaces behind the knee walls at the third level.  In the space off of the east bedroom, we located the zoned air handler unit that serves the second and third levels.  On the other side of this space, we captured space for a great closet.  The net result was another legitimate bedroom (or office space) at the third level that increases the flexibility of the house greatly.

Please see all of the posts covering the construction of this project using this link if you are interested.

17 Dewey Street is listed for sale by Carter Rowson with The Cassina Group.

The Landscape is Important

The landscape is important.  At least that is what Evan Brandon believes, though I've never heard him say it so bluntly.  Naturally, as an experienced landscape architect he would be biased, but as an architect I believe that it is a critical accompaniment to a successful project.  Landscaping provides the setting for a structure and, ideally, should enhance and strengthen the architecture with carefully designed elements.

That landscape architecture would be considered important is particularly the case in a city like Charleston, which has a long history of beautiful formal gardens and horticultural expertise. The establishment of Loutrel W. Briggs' seasonal landscape architectural practice in Charleston in 1929 heralded the renaissance of formal landscape design in the city.

Our four season gardening climate means that there is always the potential for something beautiful to look at and, on the other side, tasks to attend to for proper maintenance and upkeep.  One can find plants to flower at any season in Charleston, which makes it interesting to bike or walk through the city all year.

I turned to Evan Brandon of Outdoor Spatial Design for his assistance in designing the landscaped areas at 17 Dewey Street.  Evan, who holds a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from LSU, was a project designer for several years at DesignWorks in Charleston before striking out to form his own company in 2011.  He is very creative while having a understanding of practical considerations and budgeting.

Evans suggested that a miniature version of a classic Charleston garden would be an appropriate setting for the architecture, which, with its sister house at 19 Dewey, is a relatively traditional interpretation of the Charleston single house (with front, not side, porches).  We would have a low hedge of small boxwoods defining the front garden with a couple of trees and some color provided by quality perennials.

We decided that a beautiful specimen tree would be appropriate in front of each of two column bays that flank the central entry door.  With the consultation of Clark DeCiantis, who would be installing the material, we came upon the Okame Cherry as an appropriate selection. These produce a beautiful springtime flower and a reddish foliage that will complement the warm taupe of the exterior paint.  The Okame Cherry is well known as one of the varieties that line the tidal basin in Washington, DC.

Along the street, we will have a St. Augustine sod strip that will be convenient for accessing parked cars along the granite curb line.

We wanted to provide the enclosed space of the rear garden with the interest of the "outdoor room" that characterizes the many beautiful wall gardens in the old and historic district.  We began with an attached deck for grilling and entertaining.  The privacy wall terminating the north end might be used as place to display antique gate or maybe a small fountain.  Spartina grass was selected as a soft border along the margin of the deck.

Most of the remaining space in the rear with be a sodded yard which will be useful for dogs and children.  Along the fence lines we will have pine straw borders for future planting. We also have constructed a raised planter that will enable some flexibility as a cutting, herb, or small vegetable garden--or maybe another great specimen plant-- while serving as a nice focal point in the landscape.

Thanks to both Evan and Clark for the help with the landscape design and installation.  I'm really pleased with the progress and am looking forward to the results when complete.

Additonal listing information about 17 Dewey St.

Please check out other posts related to the new Dewey Street residences by clicking on the 17 DEWEY STREET category, below. Thank you.

Concrete and Gutter Day at 17 Dewey Street

It was a good day at 17 Dewey Street as the concrete entry stair and driveway were poured and the remainder of the gutter work was installed.  I specified a concrete stair in the front for a couple of reasons, but the two are related.

First, in better Charleston architecture, it is traditional to have a masonry entry stair.  The stair meets the ground and is therefore subject to constant exposure to weather and moisture.  It simply makes sense, like many of the traditions of construction in the historic districts of Charleston.

Secondly, an overriding goal in designing the houses at 17 and 19 Dewey Street is to build smartly, investing up front on durable and efficient components that would hold up well over many years.  Why have to replace the stair decking in 15 years if you can build it correctly the first time?  We're just doing the kinds of things that Charleston's architects and builders have been doing for generations.

It was interesting to match the concrete finishers work today. They had the forms for the stair and driveway built in advance so that they could be inspected by city building officials.  After we passed the inspections, the truck was scheduled for delivery.  They arrive late morning and had placed most of the concrete when Michelle and I ran by at noon on our way to Sullivan's Island.

By 4 pm, when I returned to the site, the forms had been completely removed and the chief finisher was carefully applying a broom finish to the surfaces.  I'm not used to seeing elevated concrete finished this way.  I am definitely impressed by the quality of the finish that resulted.

Up on the porch, the painters were working on a few things.  They painted the first coat of Piazza Blue on the beadboard ceiling and were putting another coat on the columns.  We went inside to check out a few things as well.

Jarrod Simpson, the lead interior trim carpenter, returned to 17 Dewey yesterday to install the interior door hardware.  Jarrod and his crew did such a nice job with the trim.  My stepfather, a former custom home builder, came through after Christmas and commented on how nice of a job it appeared that they did, and he's a pretty tough critic.  It was definitely good to hear that.  Jarrod is another of the quality subcontractors put together by Curt Rogers, the general contractor with his company, The Fielding Group.

I'm really pleased with the way that the materials came together in the principal bathrooms.  The combinations of creamy honed Novalato Limestone and walnut travertine floors in the master bath coordinate well with the vein-cut silver travertine countertop.

The travertine has a wonderful horizontal striation that captures the layering of this sedimentary stone.  Vein cut slabs are cross cut vertically (relative to the earth) rather than the more typical horizontal milling commonly associated with travertine.  This is my first time using it but I plan to use it again when trying to achieve a spa-like feel for an interior space.

The dark chocolate stain of the cabinetry provides a rich counterpoint to the mellow tones of the stone material.  We used the same countertop material and dark stained cabinetry along Tuscany Cream marble floors and bisque subway tile in the other second floor bath.

The kitchen cabinetry has been installed now as well.  We selected shaker style cabinetry with door and drawer front constructed from solid maple.  Robert Paige from K&K Cabinets supplied the cabinetry, which was sourced from Kith Kitchens.   I spent some time today setting up the order the for the cabinetry hardware, which Robert will be ordering for me through Berenson Decorative Hardware.

I looked around a great deal to find the right stone for the kitchen.  I really felt that a durable stone light in color would be the best choice for the transitional decor and functionality that would be desired. While I really prefer marble for clients that will be sure to maintain their kitchen surfaces, granites are much harder, less porous, and more practical.  They also tend to cost less than some of the excellent manufactured quartzite products that are on the market now.  In the end, Dylan Jackson or World Granite and I met over at AGM Imports to look for the right stone that would fit within our tight allowance.  We decided that Kashmere White, a very light stone with mahogany eyes that would pick up on the cabinetry, would be the best option.  To mellow the appearance, making it softer and more marble-like, Dylan suggested that we hone the tops.  We did, and it looks great.

Robert Paige and his crew at K&K Custom Cabinets have come through with excellent quality and service.  Robert knows his trade, is ready with good and pertinent advice, and comes through with the quality and schedule that he pledges to provide.  I can recommend him highly.

In the Powder Room beneath the stair, we wanted to add a little bit of paneling on the wall for textural and visual interest.  We elected to use 6" shiplap boards, which were provided in primed poplar by JP Byrne and his company, Four Corners Woodworking.  They were installed with "quarter gaps"; literally using a quarter to space the boards on the wall to achieve a consistent reveal between adjacent components.   The result is a classic and transitional appearance that I really favor in situations like this.  Along with the nice appearance, the wainscoting also provides the functional durable surface against which to set the pedestal sink.  It should come together well.

The heart pine floor finishing is scheduled to begin tomorrow, which will keep everyone out of the house for the better part of a week.  It is one of the last major steps in the completion of the house.  We're excited to see how the floors turn out.

MLS Listing for 17 Dewey Street

Please click on 17 Dewey Street category (below) for more posts that involve the new Dewey Street residences.

Great Progress at 17 Dewey Street

Curt Rogers and his crews have been making excellent progress on the interior finishing of 17 Dewey Street, located a few steps from Charleston's Hampton Park.  All of the interior trim, excepting a few tie-ins adjacent to cabinetry and the stair railings, has now been installed.  Curt retained a highly skilled trim crew that typically works on higher end Kiawah, Seabrook, and Daniel Island projects.  The lead carpenter worked with Southern Staircase completing complicated stairs for many years.  Trained stair builders typically develop precise habits in their methods due to the detailed nature and complexity of the work.

We asked that all of the casing miters be glued and biscuited to ensure the long term stability of the joints.  Because we used a 4" wide casing, which is a wider than typical casing expected in a house like this, the length of the miter joint is increased.  Over time and through humidity cycles, wood tends to shrink and swell and one of the more evident places is at the miter joints.  By using wood biscuits and glue along with trim nails to secure the miter, the joint tends to more less and look much better over time.

JP Byrne and his company, Four Corners Woodworking, is doing an excellent job in providing all of the quality moldings at 17 Dewey St.  The casings, sills, and wainscoting components, which tend to take the most abuse, were milled from some of the best looking poplar that I have seen in a while.  The simple cove crown molding (7" at the first floor, 5" at the second) was provided in smooth and stable MDF.  MDF works well for crown because it is out of reach and therefore does not expose its only flaw, which is that it can chip if struck or kicked.

By the end of the week, the kitchen and bath cabinetry had been delivered an installed.  My friend Robert Paige of K&K Custom Cabinetry provided the cabinetry for the house, and it really looks great. (It was almost immediately covered for protection in advance of the painting, so no photos for now).  The kitchen features full overlay maple doors and drawer faces in a rich, dark hand applied stain finish.  The drawer boxes have dovetailed joinery.  Paired with very light, honed granite that has a resemblance to marble, the dark cabinetry is going to make for a handsome, transitional look for the kitchen.

The painters have been working in the relative peace and quiet that this weekend allowed.  All of the ceilings have been painted (SW Charleston White) and the trim was all primed and sprayed (SW Chapel of Ease, a favorite slightly creamy white).  The painters are really doing a nice job.  After seeing plenty of poor painting work and coming to understand the value of skilled painters, I've been really happy with what I'm seeing here so far.

We specified solid, 2 panel doors with no raised paneling for all interior door openings.  For me, flat panel doors are almost always preferable to raised panel doors in new construction.  19 Dewey next door has great looking solid raised panel doors (4 panel arrangement) and it yields a more traditional feel which fits well for the residence.  At 17 Dewey, I was looking for more of a transitional feel that would skew a little hipper, or slightly more contemporary, in terms of decor.  All of the cabinetry also features a similarly transitional shaker-style, flat panel door and drawer front design.  It can be dressed up or down, so to speak, to coordinate with more traditional or contemporary tastes.

The wide plank heart pine flooring has been installed at 17 Dewey.  It is the same material installed at 19 Dewey as shown in the image above.  The stair will be similarly finished in square 2x2 balusters and boxed newels, though will be a little different in finish.  The railing and newels will be an ebonized oak and the stair treads will be painted white, which will result in a somewhat stronger contrast to allow the stair to pop a bit.  The stair railing should be completed by the middle of the week.  The counter tops and plumbing fixtures will be in as well.  I'm very excited with the progress.

17 Dewey MLS listing and information

Please click on 17 Dewey Street category (below) for more posts that involve the new Dewey Street residences.

New Hampton Park Terrace Design Nears Completion

At long last, we are nearing completion of the construction of a new house--actually, two new sister houses--at 17 and 19 Dewey Street near Charleston's Hampton Park.  I'm very excited about how the houses have turned out.

Though 17 Dewey Street is for sale, the point of this isn't to get all "salesy" but to get into what the houses are and what is is like to design in an historic area and for high quality at a reasonable budget.  Designing structures for sale is certainly something that I'm not used to, and some might argue that we surely overshot the mark in terms of construction quality and expense.  However, these houses are in my neighborhood and they have my name attached to them.  I would much rather err to the high side of expense and quality and turn out a much better house than revert to the mean with a lower quality house that the future owners would not be happy with in the years and decades to come.

Many of the decisions that we made in the design and construction of the residences were colored by our own experiences in living in historic residences.  The owner of 19 Dewey and I live a couple of blocks away across the street from each other in houses that were built about 100 years ago.  We know that they tend to be very expensive to heat, cool, and maintain.  I wish that there were a nicer shine that could be put on this fact--labor of love? Caretaker of history?  Say what you will, and we love to live where we do in the houses that we restored around the corner in Hampton Park Terrace, but there is no getting around that it is an expensive proposition.

Thus, we determined that we would pick our battles of cost analysis and allocate as much investment as we practically could toward constructing the "bones" of the house robustly.  For example, the framing has 2x6 exterior walls for strength and to accommodate R-19 insulation.  Both of the two main levels are built with open web floor trusses while the third level is constructed with space efficient roof trusses; each of these options is stronger and more resistant to flex than less expensive alternatives.  All of the framing corners, base plates, and internal blocking areas were caulked to help to minimize drafts and air leakage into the structure.

The HVAC systems have been upgraded to exceed expectations in efficiency with a higher SEER rating than is typically installed in houses today.  One system serves the open plan of the first floor, which the other system is zoned separately with electrical dampers to serve the second and third levels.  All of these efforts combined, along with the appropriate placement of openings for natural light, are going to help to make these house much less expensive to operate.  After living in drafty historic houses for many years, I can certainly appreciate that.

Another significant expense of typical downtown houses is exterior maintenance.  To minimize ongoing maintenance, we selected materials that have a track record of long term performance and durability.  The siding is cementitious Hardie board, and nearly all of the exterior trim is cementitious as well.  This material tends to take in the paint finish with excellent adhesion.  The finish lasts much longer between repainting efforts there is no issue with wood rot.  The other exterior trim material includes treated pine sills, manufactured treated wood porch columns, treated pine tongue and groove front porch material, true tongue and groove bead board exterior ceilings, and treated wood slat panels within the foundation.

All of these things are relatively expensive compared to more common alternatives for a house at the price at which we wanted to market them.  To afford to do this, we decided to keep the form the building simple.  In my decade of experience in high end residential design, I have designed many houses with complex forms, including round and elliptical forms, multiple corners and returns, cantilevered elements, and more.  In spite of what people would like to believe, complexity in form costs more than simplicity in most cases.  However, the builders and architects in Charleston have known this forever.  Take a look around, and you'll find that most of the best and most elegant houses in Charleston are also the simplest in form. This is what we have done for generations, and it made sense to do so here as well.

While we wanted to have a durable and elegant exterior, we also wanted to have well finished interior spaces.  We decided to install heart of pine flooring throughout all of the spaces on all three levels, excluding the bathrooms which would have stone tile.  Our contractor, Curt Rogers, was able to source the pine locally at a competitive price to allow us the flexibility to do this.  The stone was purchased from a favorite trade source of mine which is great for a huge variety of competitively priced materials for those willing to take delivery on it immediately.

In the master bath, I selected muted warm limestone (6x12 in a running bond pattern) on the tub surround walls, accented by a travertine mosaic accent strip which coordinates with the over-sized medium walnut travertine floor tiles.  In the other baths, neutral marble floor material was paired with subway tiles (a biscuit-colored glaze is my favorite) for a great, classic look that never goes out of style.  Dylan Jackson of World Granite (843 300-2556) is doing a fabulous job with all of the tile and stone installation.  I'm so glad to have been able to get him on board  for the tilework on 17 Dewey, and am happy that he will be handling all of the counter top stone slabs as well.  Dylan is skilled, precise, hardworking, and is so easy to work with.  I couldn't recommend him more.

We have to give a huge amount of credit to our contractor, Curt Rogers, and his team at The Fielding Group, LLC .  Curt assembled a great team of subcontractors and has spent most every day on site overseeing the work.  It has mostly been a problem free build-out with Curt doing a great job in controlling costs and managing quality.  AGL Services has done as nice a job on the installation of the mechanical systems here as they are doing on a vastly more complex system on a beachfront residence designed on Kiawah Island.

I'll post more on this residence later; excited to have it be so close to completion.

17 Dewey Street additional information

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