BUILDER TAPS MEMORIES OF LONG ISLAND FOR OCEANFRONT HOME
When Mike Ruegamer moved from his native Long Island to the Lowcountry 30 years ago, he packed his portfolio of considerable architectural talent.
Two years ago, he tapped his visual memory of the ubiquitous New England-style architecture of the Hamptons and Nantucket Island near Cape Cod to design a second residence on Dune Lane for a New Jersey couple.
The home, with an unblemished view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond the 68-foot wide swath of private beachfront, showcases the casual New England lifestyle, said Ruegamer, a principal at Group 3 on Hilton Head Island that was founded in 1986 and provides full-scale architectural, interior design and planning services.
“We wanted oceanfront, a beach home,” said radiologist Dr. Andrew Osiason, from his home in Wyckoff, N.J. “This property was perfectly suited for us.”
His wife Fran, a teacher and scientist with a doctorate in chemistry, added, “We wanted a private and unobstructed view of the water.”
They acquired that view after purchasing a nearly quarter-acre property and existing 1970s-style house on which it sat in 2011.
In order to build their grand “retirement dream home,” in the North Forest Beach area, Andrew Osiason said they also bought a separate adjacent strand of land. The aging home was torn down, and the Osiasons enlisted Ruegamer and builder Rick Leach of Paragon Construction Inc. to construct a four-story 4,500-square-foot beach masterpiece. The residence, which took a year to build, was completed in March and is now being rented seasonally.
“First of all, it’s the ocean view,” said Ruegamer, who studied architecture at the New York Institute of Technology, when asked about the driving force behind his stunning design. “ It’s spectacular, and we maximized that view."
The exterior’s cedar shake shingles with stucco base complements “lots of options on decorative elements” on the weather-resistant trim, Ruegamer said. Palmetto trees frame the swimming pool and lanai, and stairs lead up to an expansive terrace outside the main living area. French doors in the media lounge on the third floor open wide to another terrace with sweeping water views, as do the fourth-floor “bunk room” windows.
The beach and ocean outside command visual attention from all the major rooms inside the spacious six bedroom, six-and-a-half bathroom home. Open the custom-made mahogany front door, above which are a handful of cypress corbels, follow the Turkish travertine flooring straight into the great room, the terrace and the rolling ocean waves on the horizon.
What the homeowners envisioned and what Group 3 — and its Pyramids home store for all the furniture and accessories — delivered was an open floor plan and a clean, informal transitional-style living space. Ruegamer crafted, with the input of the Osiasons, a complete integration of design, style, colors, materials, fixtures, furniture, accessories, attention to details and, oh yes, “quality, durability and comfort,” which were priorities for the homeowners, Ruegamer said. “It’s a nice balance.
“We talked extensively about what they wanted in the home, spatially, about everything, up to the bunk room,“ he said. “You break it down into a process … from the floor plan, we look at every elevation, which means we look at every wall inside the house and physically draw it, from there we know what the cabinets look like and the walls look like and that tweaks the plan a little bit … and then we do a lighting plan based on that because we know what everything is going to look like in there.”
“(Our home) is casual, a little on the rustic side, warm and inviting,” Fran Osiason said. “There’s a lot of beautiful touches, things that are not common.”
“It’s a personalized, one-of-a-kind home,” her husband added. “It’s not cookie-cutter.”
The home’s overall appeal, natural flow and personality are rooted in the custom-designed kitchen.“Kitchens are the heart of the home, it sets the whole tone of the home,” Ruegamar said.
Two islands, one of which adjoins a raised breakfast bar that seats four, have honed granite countertops rather than polished to give it a “casual feel,” Ruegamer said. The cabinetry underneath is colored in a “coastal fog” warm gray, which was also utilized in the great room and entryway, to create a “furniture look” and a striking contrast to the rest of the kitchen’s all-white cabinetry and trim. Group 3’s custom-designed cabinetry is painted poplar or maple.
“I love designing cabinets, because it all ties together,” Ruegemar said. “How the cabinets go with the trim and everything … it kinds of spreads out from there. It defines the home, color-wise, look-wise and aesthetically.”
The Group 3 team added special touches with a sofa window seat and tongue-and-groove vertical paneling. A simple sheetrock ceiling balances the kitchen’s other artistic features.
The hand-planed distressed oak flooring in the kitchen stretches throughout the main living area, including the master suite, as well as the stairs and the third floor hallway. Hilton Head Floor Coverings provided all of the oak flooring and carpeting in the four guest bedrooms.
“The dark wood floors ground the home,” said the doctor, who with his wife and two teenage children, had been vacationing on the island for about 15 years before committing to ownership.
Coffered ceilings create a signature look in the great room, with stone fireplace, and the informal dining room, anchored by a 9-foot-long oak-plank table that seats up to 12. Custom crown molding emanates throughout the home.
The master suite bathroom with tub and shower dazzles with a quartz countertop — the “latest and greatest since granite,” Ruegemar said — and the backsplash and rear shower wall sparkle in a mosaic tile of glass and stone. The built-in cabinetry abuts a porcelain floor and includes a recessed lower shelf for towels and personal care products.
Shiplap wainscoting on the landing and upstairs hallways “gives a nautical feel to the space,” as does the maritime-themed artwork that adorns the walls.
Hidden from sight is the myriad of high-end “smart-home” technology that enables the Osiasons to control audio/video, security and lighting by remote from their cell phone.
Hilton Head Floor Coverings provided all of the oak flooring and carpeting in the four guest bedrooms.
When the Osiasons do have the opportunity to spend time at their new second home — which isn’t often because of busy work schedules and retirement that is still years away — they each find a comfortable perch inside or outside to enjoy the relaxed, beach lifestyle and timeless salt air view.
“We just couldn’t be happier,” Andrew Osiason said. “This exceeded our expectations and was all part of Mike’s architectural plan.”
Architecture: Mike Ruegamer of Group 3
Furnishings and decorative lighting: Mike Ruegamer of Group 3
Construction: Paragon Construction Inc.
Landscaping: Sunshine Nursery
Cabinetry: Litchfield Cabinetry
Pool and spa: Year Round Pool Co.
Tile and countertops: Stoneworks Inc.
Wood Flooring & Carpet: Hilton Head Floor Coverings
Audio/visual: Advanced Integrated Controls
Security system: Palmetto Security