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.

Home Discovery: SOUTHERN SANCTUARYClassic touches, custom features and a focus on natural light give this Berkeley Hall home a relaxed elegance.

It’s no wonder the 4,328-squarefeet neo-Mediterranean property at 30 Lancaster Blvd. in Berkeley Hall was a 2010 Lighthouse Award Finalist in five categories — including the prestigious Best Overall.

Randy Jeffcoat Builders, Inc., along with in-house designer Dan Bennicas, worked with owners John and Edie Tarbell to create a second home that could serve as a relaxing escape from the couple’s Maine winters, while showcasing the spectacular views that drew them to Berkeley Hall in the first place.

This casual, French-inspired residence, crafted largely from reclaimed materials, lends a European air to Colleton River.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB KAUFMAN

76 Oak Tree in Colleton River PlantationSituated under its own forest canopy, the rustic residence at 76 Oak Tree in Colleton River Plantation blends French country-inspired design with the majestic natural surroundings of the Lowcountry. Constructed for Barbara and Patrick Sommers by architectural firm Court/Atkins and built by Pat and Ron Strimpfel of Bluffton based Reclamation by Design, the lakeside property was conceived using a meticulous design theme that aimed to preserve as much of the surroundings as possible. That meant using reclaimed materials and maintaining the property’s five live oak trees; in the end, only a small amount of strategic pruning was required to accommodate the 8,000-squarefoot living space.

The house is built in part from reclaimed wormy heart pine. The outdoor living space and sidewalks are made from a creative blend of brick, bluestone and crushed stone. The beam trusses and siding were rescued from Ruby Mill, N.C., and a feature lintel that sits above the billiard room’s custom-built mahogany door was reclaimed from a 100-year-old building on Bay Street in Savannah.

11 HEADWATERS ROAD, BLUFFTONThis “casual, warm” home at the headwaters of the May River is designed for rustic comfort — and the location is perfect for its photography-minded owners.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUTCH HIRSCH

11 HEADWATERS ROAD, BLUFFTON

With its Lowcountry appeal, thoughtful design and character-rich features — such as wooden beams and a quirky garden railroad — it’s no wonder the Palmetto Bluff property at 11 Headwaters Road won the 2009 Gold Aurora Award for being the best house in competition across the southeast United States and the National Best in Living Award for best custom home of 6,500 square feet or greater.

Kitchen and BathSometimes, the big, splashy home design trends you see in the slick pages of magazines don’t always translate to the Spanish moss-framed homes of the Lowcountry. And while the rest of the country follows the latest trends in designs and products, the South has often simply followed its own sense of style.

“In the southern marketplace, it’s more traditional,” said Lora Donoghue, president of the Carolina Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). “In the northern marketplace, it’s more contemporary.”

Kelly Hughes of Designing to Sell, a home staging business, said today’s market is different than it has ever been.

 

130 Tidewater ManorThis masterpiece in the Tidewater Landing community can’t seem to stop collecting building and design accolades. Take a look inside.

In the past year, 130 Tidewater Manor has won Silver at the National Association of Home Builders’ Nationals in Las Vegas, was a Pinnacle Awards finalist at the South Carolina Home Builders Association and claimed Best Overall at the  Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association Lighthouse Awards, among its many local and national honors.

But for Todd Hawk, owner of H2 Builders, and wife Tracy, the initial idea was to simply turn a raw piece of land into a home wedded to its surroundings. “We’re very much outdoors people,” Tracy said. “The dark tile roof, the stone application, paver driveway, it’s all designed to aesthetically complement nature.” There’s also a sprawling outdoor entertainment area, complete with woodburning fireplace, pool with beach entry, summer kitchen and deepwater dock (where you can often find the couple’s son, Hunter, an avid 9-year-old fisherman).

 

This vigorous hyacinth bean thrives in Bill Moss’ garden, one of seven featured on the garden tourSeasons come and go — and gardeners’ aspirations come and go with them — but nothing is more firmly implanted in a gardener’s psyche than the phrase, “Wait until next year!” Fortunately, the Lowcountry Master Gardeners Educational Garden Tour is here just in time to sustain and nourish that longing. The third annual tour will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 16.

The tour will feature seven exceptional local gardens from Moss Creek to Sea Pines; plants will be labeled and Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions at each. The tour gardens, which have all been cultivated by Master Gardeners, are those of Linda Muller, Moss Creek; Susan Robacker, Windmill Harbour; Vicki Reilly, Windmill Harbour; Nancy Hildebrand, Indigo Run; Bill Moss, Hilton Head Plantation; Sherry Wojtulewicz, Palmetto Dunes and Mim Jacob, Sea Pines.

Canna lilies, especially the bronze-leaved cultivar ‘Arizona,’ will take on a renewed vigor this fall.With a brutal summer finally winding down and the beginning of cooler weather on hand, it’s a good time for looking both forward and backward.

We’ve had great success with a number of plants this year, especially our pentas and angelonia.

Both want plenty of sun — especially angelonia, which will grow thin and wispy if deprived of it. But pentas, which can be bloom in colors ranging from pale pink to lavender to cerise, will outbloom and outlast everything else in your garden.

Fragrant, old-fashioned crinum lily.The odds and ends of August

Welcome to the Dog Days of summer, the steamy period of late July through August. It seems that ancient skywatchers associated the hottest days with the “Dog Star,” Sirius, the brightest star in the sky as well as brightest of the constellation Canis Major (big dog), because its rising and setting coincided with that of the sun. Ancient Romans thought the earth received heat from it, but not so—just another attempt to explain the mysteries of the universe. Rather, the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth’s tilt.

What does that mean to us? Do you really want to go into your garden on most days? Probably not, but you still want something pretty to look at. The hardy perennials and some really tough annuals are your best answer.