June 2020

The Art of the Home:Collaboration between celebrated designer and inspired artist creates masterpiece in Palmetto Bluff

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Most of the time, beautiful is enough.

Most of the time, taking the essentials that combine to create that contemporary Lowcountry look is enough to create a captivating home. Start with a great view, add some distressed flooring in a delicate neutral shade, pair with custom millwork, shiplap and quartz counters, maybe throw in the odd accent wall of reclaimed barn wood here or there, and you’re good to go.

This is not an indictment of that contemporary Lowcountry look. It’s a beautiful design aesthetic that our region can claim as its own, one that is oft-imitated but never duplicated beyond the bounds of the Lowcountry.

And while it’s beautiful, every once in a while, beauty is not enough. Every once in a while, that gorgeous Lowcountry motif must be given a few artistic embellishments.

Mix and match
“I didn’t want it to look like every other house,” said Susan Boehme, who shares this dazzling Palmetto Bluff home with her husband Randy. An accomplished artist in her own right, Boehme worked hand-in-hand with legendary Lowcountry designer Kelly Caron on her home after collaborating with her on a previous renovation in Wilson Village.

“She was very hands-on,” Caron said. “We talked and texted all the time. I love these clients; they’re so open to design.”

Through the collaboration of these two talents, a unique design aesthetic emerged—one that took the familiar tropes of Lowcountry design and made them a little more … dare we say, fun?

Eschewing anything the pair thought might be, “matchy-matchy,” they pulled in eclectic elements that nonetheless gel for an overall gorgeous effect. Throughout the kitchen and baths, polished nickel and bronze co-exist peacefully, while colorful pops of natural grain wood add rugged accents to the contemporary décor.

In fact, one of the most visible examples of this dedication to creating something different can be found in the flooring. Whereas the traditional Lowcountry home will have something lighter, like a white oak or an ash that will blend into the background, the random-width, random-species flooring found throughout the main living spaces demands attention.

“It’s great that Susan was open to multiple finishes,” Caron said. “To me, that gave it depth.”
Sometimes it was about being open to new things. Sometimes it was about demanding them, as with the buckboard accent wall in the office. Left unpainted, its natural grain adds an eye-catching pop of texture to the space, informing its rustic yet refined vibe.

“Everyone tried to talk me out of it,” Susan said. “That’s probably one of my favorite things about the house is how we left that natural.”

Guiding Susan’s vision every step of the way was Caron’s seasoned eye as a designer.
“I’m good with color, and I’ve built several houses in the past. I love the process, but sometimes you need another creative person to be a sounding board,” Susan said. “She does so much leg work. She’s easy to work with.”

“Kelly has a real knack for it, and she and Susan were very comfortable with one another,” builder Scott Thomas of CS Construction said. “Our job was basically just to follow their directions and execute.”

And here Thomas is being modest. For this celebrated homebuilder, there was a little more to it than that.

From the ground up
For the Boehmes, it all started with the scenery. As an artist, Susan looked out on the pond, golf and river views and saw inspiration. As an environmentalist, Randy saw all the Lowcountry beauty he’s worked so hard to preserve.

“The way our house sits … we made sure we had good views and nothing was obstructed,” Susan said.

Working with architect Allison Ramsey, they drew up plans for a home that would encompass that scenery and draw it in. A rear wall of tall windows was meticulously planned so that not a single piece of trim would obstruct the view. And for the utmost in lush natural lighting, the whole home was designed around a soaring cupola.

“My husband knew that was something we wanted,” Susan said. “It brings in a ton of light.”
Soaring nearly 40 feet above the main living space, the cupola adds a dramatic vertical element to the home, with custom millwork and lighting adding to the visual flair. Plus, for a couple who lives for the Lowcountry scenery, it brings in lush natural light.

“Randy loves the outdoors,” Thomas said. “It really suits who they are … and the way we designed it, trimmed it and lit it, it’s something to be proud of.”
It’s not alone in that regard.

What’s cooking?
The true heart of the home, and the one thing that must draw attention for a home to be considered truly special, is the kitchen. Between Ramsey’s design, Caron’s and Susan’s artistic vision and Thomas’ expertise, the kitchen in this Palmetto Bluff home shines. Here, once again, you’ll find the traditional Lowcountry trappings of shiplap accents and a wide center island given to flights of flair. The eye is drawn almost immediately to the built-in sidebar, whose African gray cabinets and countertop contrast against crisp white millwork elsewhere.

“The kitchen is beautiful; that’s really a highlight of the house,” Thomas said. “They put the money in it, and it shows.”

“I wanted a very large island so people could gather around,” Susan said, adding that the sidebar countertop, carrying the same wood grain as the floor, is one of her favorite parts.

These elements inform a blissfully open kitchen that carries a theme prevalent in every corner of the house: openness and airiness. Not only does it open to the rest of the open living space, it enjoys plentiful windows to maximize the majestic scenery surround the home.

And of course, there’s one part of the kitchen that no Palmetto Bluff house should be without.
“The back kitchen is one of my favorite spaces,” Caron said.

Leaning into the eclectic pairing of modern Lowcountry against rustic accents, the back kitchen may be built for utility, but its simple charms are disarming, pairing floating shelves of mixed-species wood against white shiplap, a farmhouse sink against dark stone counters and exquisite custom millwork.

In and out
Above all else, this home is a testament to how an artistic eye can transform a space. Caron has been one of the main arbiters of style when it comes to Lowcountry homes. Paired with Susan Boehme’s artistic vision, they have created something special. For her part, Susan’s vision was fueled by the tranquil Lowcountry environment that encircles the home.

“The first painting I did here was of the pond,” Susan said.

Having been inspired by the natural beauty, the home was designed to celebrate it. It’s more than simply the soaring cupola that drenches the living space in natural light. It’s more than the wall of windows designed to soak in the scenery.

It’s in the way Susan’s in-home studio was designed to capture these views, fueling her inspiration. It’s in the way the grand front entrance encircles a dramatic flagpole, handcrafted by Adirondack Flagpoles of Keeseville, N.Y. (“With about 10 coats of varnish so it can withstand South Carolina weather,” Susan added.) It’s in the way the home encircles a spacious covered outdoor space, perfect for lazing away the afternoon before a stunning vista of water, greenery and sky.

“Just looking out on the thirteenth hole, with the pond literally next door … there’s a lot of wildlife, but it’s still very private,” Susan said.

Thus, we see the circle of inspiration. The views feed the art, the art feeds the home and the home embraces the views.

Sometimes, beautiful is enough. But every once in a while, beautiful is used as a jumping off point toward true art. And in this Palmetto Bluff home, art and inspiration have created something truly special.

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