Palmetto Bluff has been called the last great “land treasure” on the East Coast.

hd-nov2011-livrmHere, twisting live oaks shade lush open spaces and all roads lead to the river. The environmentally significant development first caught the attention of Susan Ketchum, 24-year resident of Hilton Head Island, during its initial development.

“I believe in land conservation. I love nature and the way that the homes in Palmetto Bluff are part of the natural setting,” said Ketchum.

Ketchum had never built a home of her own, “and this was my chance to create my dream,” she said. She found the perfect lot nestled on 3.5 acres of land that sits on a slough with a view that inspires paintings. “It was everything I wanted and more. The view, the wildlife, the water … I could not wish for anything else.”

Enlisting the aid of dear friend and internationally acclaimed interior design professional Joni Vanderslice, of J Banks Design Group, as well as Lowcountry architect Mike Ruegamer of Group 3 Design, Ketchum began what she described as a most enriching and exciting experience.

It’s become almost cliché to say that someone came to the Lowcountry for a vacation and ended up staying forever, but that’s just what happened when Jim and Liz McGuffey went looking for a place to downsize.

Their decision came quickly after a visit with friends to Hilton Head Island led them to Bluffton’s Hampton Hall. This past spring, they achieved their ideal downsizing in a house that’s around half the size of their old one.

08-2011-hd-livingroomBrett and Tara Warthen’s Gascoigne Bluff Road home, Hidden Oak, is special in many ways. For its panoramic views of the May River. For its theater, swimming pool, screened-in porch, climate-controlled wine room, chef’s kitchen (with three islands) and kids’ playhouse. For its dock on the river, and its second-floor, house-length balcony — just to name a few.

The Warthens and their son and daughter, Bryce and Kelsey, also have plenty of room to grow. The house, designed by John Pittman III and built by Casey Ricks of Baywater Properties, weighs in at a hefty 8,251 square feet, including the carriage house, four-car garage and apartment, which Brett uses as his office.

“We call it beefy,” Tara quipped. “It’s very distinguished, and when you see it, you know it’s a John Pittman design. He has that ‘large’ signature.”

hd-07-2011-poolAt 78 Cumberland Drive in Belfair, fun is paramount. The Bluffton home of Bob Willis and Nancy Winslow was built with an eye on entertaining and enjoying the panoramic views of nature.

The interior and furnishings of the year-and-a-half-old residence were designed by Dean Huntley of Plantation Interiors, who, early in the construction process, became part of an intimate team that worked closely with the owners and contractors.

“I assisted with the view lines, interior design, cabinets, floorings, plumbing and electrical, and then I furnished it. I was fired several times, but always with love,” Huntley joked.

Home Discovery: A Save In Sea Pines

An old Sea Pines dame has been dressed up fit for a ball, and she’s ready to dance again.

But before you jump to conclusions, we’re talking about a renovated 1973 home just past the Ocean Gate on the Atlantic side in Sea Pines.

The home’s former owners were fairly early to the Sea Pines game, having purchased the choice oceanfront plot in the early ‘60s. Now, a couple from Atlanta — physicians with your typical “visited-Hilton Head-and-fell-in-love” — own the home, and after a seven-month renovation, it’s ready once again to be the belle of the ball.

You need only one word to describe the great room in Don and Kim Thompson’s Palmetto Dunes home: stunning.

Home Discovery: Aspiring to greatnessIt’s vast and angular, full of windows, sunlight and vistas of the Palmetto Dunes Golf Course. It’s also pleasantly dominated by a European villa-style limestone fireplace.

Don and Kim Thompson purchased the 3,250-square-foot house in 2004 as a second home and rental investment. “We love Palmetto Dunes — its location, the golf course and the neighbors. It’s close to the beach,” says Don. “We found this home just down the street from where we were renting, looked at it, thought about it for about half an hour and signed the contract.

home discovery / 14 anchor cove court, hampton lakeWhen they moved in, Dianne and Randy Fix’s Hampton Lake home was technically new — even if their favorite parts came from other homes, a textile mill, a barn and a factory.

The couple bought their 3,300-square-foot home at 14 Anchor Cove Court in 2008 after it was built as a spec by Bluffton’s Reclamation By Design, a builder that specializes in constructing new homes and commercial buildings with flooring, beams, siding, wainscoting, trim, brick, stairs and cabinetry from demolished or unused structures.

It’s not often that someone says the favorite part of their house is the front door, but Dianne does so proudly. “Our front door was taken from a Sears Roebuck house,” she says, referring to an old turn-ofthe- century kit. “You know, those old houses you could order from a catalog?”

‘Nowadays, it’s not smart to build homes that waste energy. This is the way we have to go.’The water views aren’t bad, of course, but there’s a bigger reason that Ernst and Christina Bruderer chose to build their home in Windmill Harbour: The area, conceived by Charles Fraser with sustainability in mind, is one of the most progressive on the island, one that enables and encourages the kind of eco-friendly construction that is the home’s hallmark. (Photography by Butch Hirsch)

A self-proclaimed “frustrated architect” with a vision for an ecologically friendly home, Ernst Bruderer approached architect Terry Rosser and Chris VanGeison of VanGeison Construction, who had recently built an Earth Craft home in Palmetto Bluff, to help make his green vision a reality — not to be trendy, not to cut power bills, but because, as Bruderer says, “It is our responsibility.”

Can a kitchen be sexy? Can a bathroom be dramatic?

The answer is yes, and it’s what home builders and buyers are looking for. That’s why smart homeowners are adding value to their homes with simple, affordable projects in these two rooms that bring out the drama and showcase the sex appeal.

SEXY KITCHENS

The latest trends in kitchen design recognize that your itchen is not simply a utilitarian room where meals are produced but the gathering place. It’s a real family room and the walls between the kitchen, dining room and family room are coming down — a trend that’s here to stay.

Home Discovery: 9 Cambridge Circle, Wexford

Home Discovery: 9 Cambridge Circle, WexfordPHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB KAUFMAN

This home on the water in Wexford affords its owners a spacious, sunlit retreat from those North Carolina winters.

When Tom and Jacquelyn Morgan decides to do something abouth their shared desire to spend more time in warmer climes, they turned to Wexford Plantation and Hugh Hobus' RCH Construction.

The Waynesville, N.C.couple contracted with Hobus to remodel a three-decade-old home at 9 Cambridge Circle in Wexford Plantation, a renovation that completely transformed the 5,400-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath home on Wexford Harbor off Broad Creek.