At a sprawling, Lowcountry-style property in Emerald Pointe, a Savannah couple is well-versed in the language of waterways and wild spaces.
“One of the most amazing things are the egrets and herons that fly up this creek,” says one of the homeowners, gesturing toward a leisurely arc in a small tributary of the Wilmington River. “Where it bends, they bend,” she says.
By the homeowners’ count, hundreds of birds alight in the nearby lagoon nearly every night, drawing in the next species: dogs. More specifically, their own — and the neighbors’. When they’re not gleefully chasing birds, neighbor pups have taken to stopping by for visits (and belly rubs) inside this lovely, light-filled home, and it’s easy to see why. Consider the 180-degree windows in the living room, displaying those marshes alive with birds; the centuries-old longleaf heart pine floors, emanating warmth and soul; the meticulously placed marble doorframe in the master bathroom; the open-air porch. Taken together, every tiny detail of the home bolsters its charismatic yet easygoing air.
Which is why, of course, amid the swirl of tidewaters in a mellow breeze, the gentle trill of birdsong and the happy-go-lucky mischief of those lovable dogs, it’s the humans who are here for the long haul.
The husband grew up in New Zealand, and the wife is Savannah born and bred. Their childhoods among some pretty spectacular scenery, whether Lowcountry marsh or wild, rugged mountains and beaches, afforded the couple a keen eye for natural beauty, a must for finding this particular lot. They knew they wanted a property with a view, removed from downtown bustle. (They were on to something. The area was near empty four years ago; now, there’s hardly a lot left.) They also chose a unique east-facing view that gets its own special kind of sunset. “We don’t get it in the sky, but streaking across the marsh,” he says.
When it comes to architecture and interiors, they have plenty of practical experience; this is the fourth home they’ve built together. Perhaps more important in achieving the home’s quiet panache is the husband’s previous career as a commercial photographer (his striking, black-and-white works hang in several of the home’s rooms). “Experience helps,” he says, “[but] so does understanding the visual interactions.”
Indeed, many aspects of the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home are fine-tuned to create the most pleasing visual effect. Its curb appeal is due in large part to a wide, curved driveway that leads on one side to a hidden, two-car garage beneath the main living space, which took “lots of geometry” to get just right. The placement of the house is turned a seemingly imperceptible three feet from its original planned direction and raised 11 feet in the back, drastically improving the view from inside as one looks out onto languid coastal landscapes. Windows, placed at every opportunity, facilitate that view and its accompanying sense of calm. The furniture is a conversation between several centuries, eras and countries of origin: a midcentury dining set, an Italian raffia desk in the office, a 200-year-old heirloom farm table from Exmouth, England. Some furniture was restored by a family member; other pieces are from a custom furniture maker who traded for photographs twenty years ago. Peppered in are handmade finds from local shops. And then there are the floors.
Year built: 2014
Square footage: 4250
Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths
Architect/planner: Gary Sanders, Sanders/Trowell
Interior designer: Owner
Contractor/builder: Strong Group / Alair Homes Savannah
Tile/flooring install: tile, Alan Powell; heart pine floors, John Brown
Custom wood wall surfaces and handrails: cut by Savannah Millworks
Paint: Benjamin Moore; painter, JD Painting
Color Designer: Mary Jo Bochner
Windows/doors/trim: Guerry Lumber
Kitchen design: Wilson Cabinetry
Bath design: Wilson Cabinetry
Landscape and Landscape design: Greg Elmgren, Elmgren’s Services
Hardscape design: Greg Elmgren
Electrician: Chip Willhoit, RS Willhoit Enterprises, LLC
Audio/visual: Best Buy
Plumbing Fixtures: Sandpiper Supply, Inc. and online
HVAC: Poole Heating and Air
Furniture: Mitchell Gold, Atlanta; Tom Robinson Modern, Atlanta
Appliances: Samsung and Jenn-Air from Best Buy and Livingoods
Lighting: Circa Lighting
Home accessories: One Fish Two Fish
Art: Owner’s collection