EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of Monthly’s yearlong 30th anniversary celebration, we are highlighting 30 years of different industries in each issue. This month, we feature the homebuilding industry and how it helped shape Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and the surrounding Lowcountry.



Port Royal Sound has lost none of its natural lure and deep watery magnetism since it first attracted seafarers into its wide mouth in the early 1500s. Rick and Louise Tranquilli know the seascape magic of that ever-changing tide and alluring salt air breeze quite well. They live oceanfront beside it in Port Royal Plantation.

“Sometimes we walk in and just stand there and go, ‘Do we really live here?’”

If the property, architecture, furnishings and gentle southern vibe of Gerry and Nancy Grossman’s residence could be concocted into a magic potion and squeezed into a bottle, “Lowcountry Comfort” might—and should — be on the label.

It would be a soothing lifestyle elixir day in and day out.

Newly constructed and renovated homes in the Lowcountry are warm and welcoming, with at least a dash or two of striking focal points.

Luxury homes in our area are that, of course, and much, much more. Custom everything, from the finest craftsmanship in trims and finishes, imported hand-painted tiles, century-old reclaimed wood and brick from long-ago forgotten Southern mills and warehouses, oversized floor-to ceiling windows, marble in the master bathroom, splendid indoor and outdoor fountains, custom-carved banisters, dormers peeking out through a copper roof, and a natural stone fireplace glowing in the outdoor living space.

Habitat for Humanity’s first neighborhood on Hilton Head Island, The Glen off Marshland Road is a major boon for families who cannot afford housing. Hilton Head Monthly sat down with Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity’s president, Patricia Wirth, to discuss the community milestone.

Change in the heart of the Lowcountry comes slowly — and most often in subtle tones when it does.

When Bill and Bonnie Miller bought their furnished home tucked away in May River Forest at Palmetto Bluff three years ago, they were impressed with the quality, detail of craftsmanship, architecture, design and location of the home. They didn’t want to change a thing structurally of the residence, built 10 years ago by Bluffton’s Reclamation by Design based on an architectural design by a Savannah firm.

Lowcountry home design has evolved much like the history of the South Carolina coast itself in population growth, economic forces, cuisine and culture. Naturally, adaptations to original home designs had to be made — and they were.

Its infancy began when the first permanent settlement in South Carolina took root in 1670 along the Ashley and Cooper rivers near present-day Charleston. The English transplanted their basic one-room cottage design from coastal tidewater Virginia and Maryland locations, and that marked the beginning of Lowcountry home design.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sales price of homes is at an all-time high because of a number of factors.

The group’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said that can be viewed as both good and not-so-good news. On one hand, current homeowners looking to sell their homes can get more for their property, gaining equity for the down payment on their next homes. On the other hand, rising home prices make it more difficult for first-time, younger buyers to enter the market, as they don’t have equity from a previous home — and often are struggling to save as it is.

Todd Hawk and his family-owned company H2 Builders in Bluffton have been building beautiful custom-designed homes in the Hilton Head Island area since 1996, many in the traditional or transitional Lowcountry style. And that style is becoming more popular than ever.

But perhaps none of these spectacular homes are as quintessentially Lowcountry in every exacting detail as the one he built for himself, his family, extended family and friends in the small town of Pineland in Jasper County.

The Leamington homeowner didn’t really know what she wanted, but she knew she wanted it to be beautiful.

She and her husband bought their 4,600-square-foot second home three years ago because of its location, straddling a lagoon and the Arthur Hills Golf Course, and the interior layout. The only hitch was a black-and-gold and yellowish color motif.