Kiawah Renovation/Addition Progresses

The addition and renovation to this Kiawah Island residence continues. Front elevation, with traditional elements integrated in a previous renovation, before current addition and renovation work was initiated.

Sometimes, the work that you produce that seems the least transformational is also the most difficult to pull off. When confronted with a renovation of a house of middling construction and that has already undergone another partial renovation, and with a budget realistically limited due to market considerations, the challenges can be substantial.  We are pleased with the way that the design and construction of this renovation/addition has come out so far, however, and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The installer from K&K Custom Cabinets works to set out the new kitchen cabinetry.

The project is chiefly a substantial third floor addition, which includes a new master suite and a den over what was the vaulted living spaces.  We designed the floor plate of the new addition be be 9'-3" above the existing finished floor to keep the appropriate ceiling volume in the living room, dining room and kitchen without growing the height of the house to be too tall proportionally. Along with the addition of the new space, a stair was needed to access it, leading to some necessary renovations to the former master shower.  Our clients also elected to completely renovate the kitchen, add a new stair for interior access to the garage, and replace existing 6'-6" tall sliding doors addressing the principal views with 8' tall units, enhancing the views substantially.

A new Ipe and stainless steel cable rail system will help to finish out the new third level porch and rebuilt principal deck.

Kiawah Residence before, having been renovated once before already to begin a transformation from an 80's contemporary to a shingle style flavor.

Hostetler Custom Cabinetry: Top Shelf Workmanship and Service

One of four custom plywood gate fabricated by Hostetler Custom Cabinetry When we put the design documents for the renovation of the nursery at St. John's Parish church we knew that the cabinetry was going to be proportionally expensive and important in distinguishing the space.  Working against a very tight budget for the project, we elected to keep most elements of the finish simple and production in quality.  The cabinetry would provide the character, warmth and tactile quality for the project.  It would also serve to functionally divide the space and provide the vast storage capacity for all of the toys and books needed to keep a couple of generations of little ones occupied.

View from one play corral to two play areas; cabinetry and custom plywood gates divide and organize the space while allowing visual access over the pine tops

It was critical that we identify a cabinetmaker capable of carrying out the project successfully with the quality and budget that we needed.  Our office reached out to Hostetler Custom Cabinetry, a family owned company on James Island that we'd worked successfully with before.  Their capabilities have few limits, with in-house CNC routing machinery among other equipment, and their ethics are very sound.  In order to reduce the total cost to of the project to its absolute minimum, we pulled the cabinetry out of the basic construction contract and I vouched personally for Hostetler, convincing the church that they would execute their work appropriately.  Branks General Contractors was also willing to work with them on these terms for the good of the project, and we thank them for that.  We felt confident enough in Hostetler, and they came through for us all.

Completed nursery at St. John's Parish Church, just before soft opening on Sunday.

In order to reduce the budget for the cabinetry, we agreed that the specifications for the some of the items would have to be altered to reduce the time and cost to Hostetler.  In the end, Hostetler restored the specifications to the original and beyond, producing fully inset cabinetry construction throughout, with dovetail drawer boxes in the couple of places where we had drawers.  The finishes are impeccable, including the five warm colors carefully selected for the cabinetry, a sixth color for the custom plywood gates (an shade of eggplant) and the clear finished for the pine play tops. They sourced the 2' thick pine material for the edges from Will Albrecht and his company, Southern Lumber and Millwork, and milled it in a wide radius to provide a safer contact point for the heads of new, unsteady walkers.

Custom plywood gates divide the play corrals, adding a fun, whimsical feel to the nursery.

Hostetler also took on the challenge of fabricating the custom plywood gates that allow flexibility in organizing the various play corrals in the nursery space. Fabricated using the CNC routing equipment of two layers of high quality plywood, we specified that the flat planes of the door be painted while the edges be finished clear to expose the material. This is a difficult finish to pull off, but the Hostetler team did a fabulous job with them.  We thank them for their good work, and Branks General Contractors for their patience and cooperation.

You might know these colors from such places as the GSW building in Berlin; one of my favorite uses of color ever in a work of architecture.

Sign Concept for St. John's Parish Nursery

Hanging sign concept for St. John's Parish Church Nursery. Now that the St. John's Parish church nursery is all but complete, we put together a sign concept this morning to help visitors locate the facility. Chris Hostetler, of Hostetler Custom Cabinetry, volunteered to make a sign using their CNC routing table.  Hostetler already did a fabulous job with the cabinetry inside, which forms the storage capability, play top areas, and spatial divisions within the space.  The sign concept, which would be rendered in colors to coordinate with the vibrant interior, would be an appealing element to welcome the congregation and visitors to this completely renovated space.  Two would be made, one to hang on each side of the new entry porch structure.  We may go a different direction with the signage, but I enjoyed a bit of graphic design this morning.

Completed nursery at St. John's Parish Church, just before soft opening on Sunday.

Nursery interior with custom cabinetry and plywood gates that we designed, all fabricated by Hostetler Custom Cabinetry.


Quick visit: St. Johns Parish Nursery

Painting nearly complete within St. John's Parish nursery space under renovation. Intern Architect Harrison Wallace and I made a quick visit to the St. John's Parish Church on our way back in from some meetings on Kiawah. The nursery renovation that we designed for the first level of St. John's LaRoche Building is moving along nicely. Most of the painting has been completed and the new flooring finishes have been installed. We expect some of the cabinetry to be delivered and installed today to allow the plumbing to be completed.  Early next week, the balance of the cabinetry will be installed. This will be the signature element of the design, finished in a variety of warm colors ranging from yellow to deep burgundy, will serve as plentiful storage for toys and game storage as well dividers for the interior space into 3 distinct play areas. The idea is that one or two parents can monitor the whole nursery visually while keeping children separated when appropriate. We're glad to be working with Hostetler Custom Cabinetry in the production of the all of the casework. Branks General Contractors is handling the renovation.

Space divider cabinetry detail. Copyright Tyler A. Smyth Architect, LLC 2013

The new entry door will be protected by a porch roof with flanking integrated benches.

Cantilevered Ipe Bench at Kiawah Cottage

Ipe bench instead of railing along perimeter of deck When presented with the challenge of maximizing the utility of a relatively small deck space, we elected to pursue alternatives to a guardrail at a new renovation of a cottage on Kiawah Island. As any well used deck also requires seating, we designed a built in bench design to serve as perimeter protection for the deck.

South elevation of new renovation of Kiawah Island cottage

The position of the windows in a new shed dormer that addresses the deck and ocean breezes beyond made it unpalatable to build in a bench within the perimeter of the deck, as it would have come too close to obstructing the windows.  In response, we designed a bench that would cantilever over the edge of the deck, adding some precious useable seating to the deck while freeing up the view lines out from the cottage.  Nice job by River Creek Construction in fabricating this bench design.

The backrest support timbers continue down to form the chief attachment to the deck structure.

Backrest slats continue across the sides to serve as points of attachment to the structure.

With some landscaping adjustments, we will be close to completing the exterior of this Kiawah Island cottage.

Custom Bed for Unique Sullivan's Island Bedroom

Bed custom designed for Sullivan's Island bedroom space. There is no question about which came first: it was the bedroom space, which was a porch at one time, enclosed during a previous renovation.  However, I like to think that the bed that we designed as a part of this complete renovation has a presence enough to hold its own as an anchor in this unique space. The bed completes the space and wouldn't make as much sense on any other room.

Bed as viewed from master bedroom entry approach.

The raw material with which we had to work for the bedroom was stunning: a wide space of moderate depth with three walls addressing a majestic marsh view.  The Intracoastal Waterway runs so close to the property as to give the impression of being in a boat.  The Ben Sawyer, Pitt Street, and Cooper River bridges provide visual landmarks from right to left.

Headboard, positioned beneath a dropped beam, completes the transition between the entry and principal bedroom spaces.

While the views from the bedroom were outstanding, the proportions and layout of the space as we found it were odd. The bed was positioned against a wall to one side.  On the other side of the bed wall was an office only accessible through a closet and an adjacent bedroom.  The entry to the master bedroom was off center with the space, which was finished with bland, painted drywall on the ceilings and walls.

Existing conditions in master bedroom, before renovation.

We suggested several important changes to the space that would leave the room mostly intact, building upon its strengths while tailoring it for a better fit.  The windows were replaced with two-over-two Marvin double hung units, coordinating with the complete renovation of the rest of the residence. We eliminated two of the existing ten windows, leaving the six in the center of the view, to make it more feasible to furnish the narrower flanking walls. The entry vestibule was renovated to incorporate a built in office and line storage capabilities, removing the principal desk from the bedroom.  A new vaulted dormer with round window was added int he center of the space, giving order and volume to the space from the interior and exterior perspectives, and the entry door for the master was centered in the dormer and the wall into which is was integrated.

Long water and marsh views from the master bedroom entry on Sullivan's Island.

Lastly, the wall and ceilings were fitted with shiplap paneling and v-groove material, respectively, for interest, texture, and long-wearing durability.  The existing oak flooring was refinished.  Outside, the existing deck was completely rebuilt and enlarged.

View of Sullivan's Island Master Bedroom toward the deck.

The design of the bed picks up on the paneling details in another way.  It was designed with open slats to allow a sense of transparency, allowing peaks of the view upon the approach to the bedroom, or while sitting at the deck in the entry vestibule. Lower wings designed to serve as a back for the integrated bedside tables, which seamlessly continue the slat lines around from the back of the bed to the front. The electrical system was integrated into the structure to allow swing arm lamps to mount to the headboard and outlets to mount below the tables.

Sullivan's Island bed detail

JP Byrne and his team at Four Corners Woodworking did a nice job in crafting and installing the bed.

Please take a few moments to see some of the other furnishings that we have designed to integrate with our architecture in a renovated nursery, a bench lining a Kiawah Island deck, and seating for a Sullivan's Island front porch. More can be found by following the Custom Furniture Design category to the right.

Deck off of Master Bedroom with Intracoastal Waterway below and the Ben Sawyer Bridge in the distance. The end of the old Pitt Street is to the left.

The complete renovation by Brown Construction included all new siding, windows, and roofing.

The porches were rebuilt and enlarged, allowing an outdoor dining room at the main level and expanded master deck, above.



Daniel Island Renovation Completed

New kitchen in renovated Daniel Island Park residence. On Daniel Island earlier this week, I stopped by an all-but-completed renovation that we designed for a great family relocating to Daniel Island from North Carolina.  This residence was purchased by the owners 10 years ago, and was a good fit as a vacation home for a couple who had yet to begin their family.

Alas, ten years later, the bar in the middle of the entry foyer was no longer an asset.  The kitchen construction was of dubious quality, a screened porch adjacent to the living room was hot and rarely used, and there was not a proper laundry or mud room space. The owners have still not let me down about my assessment of the cheap tile cladding the corner fireplace in the living room.  Seeing them for the first time in a while the other day, they were both humorously crushing me (simultaneously, as if in stereo) imitating a gesture in which I touched the tile, rubbed by fingers together, and then swiped them across my pants.  This unintentional reaction to the material was not lost on these two. My stomach was killing from laughter.

A parson's table anchors the kitchen and centers on a widened opening into the dining room, project to get increased usage post-renovation.

We have been lucky for the opportunity to work with contractor Phillip Smith and his project manager BJ.  Phillip is professional, demanding, exacting, and very, very good.  Honest and a straight shooter, they don't get much better.  We're so glad that he was willing to take on a project that is considerably smaller in scope than he is accustomed to building.

Built in ovens and tall pantry cabinets outside of the new walk-in pantry, which captured the existing wet bar once gracing the entry foyer.

Details like this are why you use a builder like Phillip Smith. This is the best treatment of a pocket door head that I've ever seen.

This built in sette addresses the kitchen and living room, and can be used with a breakfast table or coffee table.

The renovation of this residence was mostly concentrated at the first level interior, and was designed to address all of the chief weaknesses of the original design.  The existing screened porch, which was unused because the enclosure on three sides yielded a stagnant, hot environment, was enclosed and integrated into a larger and more light-filled living room.  In the process, the fireplace with my favorite tile was eliminated along with the wall against which it was positioned.  We vaulted the ceiling above the former porch to add interest and volume to the media end of the living room. Bookshelves, a corner settee, and other cabinetry was added along with a plate rail and wide, v-groove paneling to give the living spaces a sense of casual elegance. Part of the former screened porch was devoted to a new laundry room, which will also accommodate a kennel for the family dog and new spaces dedicated to the cat's accoutrement.

The kitchen was completely renovated and reorganized. The stove was relocated from a multilevel peninsula to a wall with a stainless steel hood above. The sink is not positioned to give a commanding view of the entire space, from living room to breakfast room and the diving room behind. With the cabinetry now reaching the ceiling and a new walk-in pantry, storage opportunities have been enhanced greatly. A walnut bar and Australian Cypress parson's table top add warmth and variety to the mostly white paint scheme. Classic, white subway tile with deeply beveled edges add a timeless feel to the space. Perhaps most significantly, the door connecting the kitchen and dining room was widened to five feet and centered on the kitchen.  This integrates the dining room visually and spatially into the balance of the house and projects to get much more use for family meals together.

A plate rail assembly caps the wide plank v-groove wainscot that surrounds the renovated living spaces.

Cabinetry in the mud room will help in keeping the home organized.

These whimsical cabinet door in the new laundry room keep the cats food and litter box out of range of the family dog.

The only exterior expression of the new renovation is this shiplap clad wall, marking the location of the former screened porch.

Sullivan's Island Master Bedroom

Redesigned master bedroom in Sullivan's Island residence overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, bed custom designed in house by Tyler A. Smyth, Architect. The renovation of the master bedroom in this Sullivan's Island renovation was among the more successfully improved spaces in the house.  We began with a relatively odd space comprised of a former porch infilled during a previous renovation.  Much wider than deep, the space has panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the broad marsh beyond.  The house's position close to the water's edge impacts the feeling of being in a boat over the water.   When standing more than several feet back from the window walls, the lawn and adjacent marsh grass are invisible, with water and the marsh on the opposite side of the waterway filling the frame.

When we came upon the space before the renovation, the bed was off to the side against a wall.  This wall was shared with a space that was intended for use as a study, but which was only accessible from an adjacent bedroom or through the master closet. The walls and ceiling were a sea of painted drywall, and there was an odd truss-like beam dividing an entry from the balance of the space.

First, we determined to move the bed from the corner of the room into the center to maximize the enjoyment of the views. This would allow us to open up the wall to the study and close the other entry doors into this space.  This cleaned up the master wardrobe and the adjacent bedroom at once. Then, we pursued incorporating a new vaulted dormer centered in the room and over the bed, to give more volume and establish a clear order to the space. The aesthetic improvements from the dormer extended to the composition of the waterfront elevation as well. Lastly, we elected to panel the walls and ceiling with 8" shiplap and 6" v-groove material, respectively, lending a great texture and depth to the finishes and space.

I designed this bed specifically for the space to serve as both headboard and spatial divider with the bed in its unique positioning.  Designed with open slats for a sense of transparency when approached from the entry, the bed also has integrated bedside tables with drawers and electrical systems for lighting and supplementary outlets.  Great work by the crew at Four Corners Woodworking on the fabrication of the bed.

Master bedroom before renovation began.

Thomas and Jana's House

The Dining Deck at our good friends' Edisto Island house. Michelle and I were invited with the family out to see our good friends, Thomas and Jana, at their fabulous Edisto Island residence.  Built mostly from the materials re-purposed from a deconstructed barn, they have a comfortable, unique, and evocative home.  Thomas manned the grill, preparing the marinated skirt steak used in the build-your-own spring roll menu. We dined on the elevated deck positioned beneath the branches of a live oak tree and connected by a catwalk to the second level of the residence.  Wonderful evening.

You can't kill the rooster.

The nursery

The kitchen, with ladder to the writing loft and site-built cabinetry.

Master bedroom with bath beyond

View of this Edisto Island house from the marsh.