THEY FELL IN LOVE WITH THE VIEW. Naturally they decided to build a house to showcase it.
After that, Rich and Maureen Dabruzzi like to say, the rest came together with teamwork like no one involved expected.
The Dabruzzis are natives of Atlanta and chose the Preserve on Kiawah Island as their place to retire. The convenience to Charleston, combined with the Kiawah golf courses, played a big role in their decision, but when they finally located the property where they wanted to build, that view cemented the deal.
I have a five-mile view out the back to Folly Beach, says Maureen. We are the last house at the end of the cul-de-sac, and nothing will ever block our view.
Rich adds, It is kind of a unique property that you just can do anything with the view. The marsh has a lot of texture to it. You could build on the ocean and it would be more expensive, but the marsh has texture. It changes colors with the season.
In addition to making the most of the panorama, the Dabruzzis also wanted to incorporate things they had come to appreciate in their Atlanta home, like their wine cellar and large kitchen. Finding the right architect and builder was crucial; the Dabruzzis believe they got lucky on both counts.
Marc was the first person we interviewed and it was instant, says Rich of architect Marc Camen. I hired an architect and got a best friend. He is a great listener. Our house in Atlanta was outstanding, so there was no sense in reinventing the wheel. We invited him up to see, and he modified it to fit the footprint of the Kiawah lot.
Camen agrees that things just clicked, adding that he and the Dabruzzis worked amazingly well together in drawing up the plans.
As for builders, that, too became an easy decision. After interviewing a few candidates, the Dabruzzis learned of R.M. Buck Builders, Inc. on Johns Island.
I love wood, Rich explains. Bob Bucks wife, Renae, heads up Island Cabinet Company, a thriving cabinet shop. When I went to their home and saw their cabinets ... that was it.
With the team in place, the house design was the challenge because of the shape of the property itself.
It was very narrow, front to back, and long, says Camen. The site was very demanding. As a matter of fact, the house turns to fit the site. We had to create two porches on this house: a viewing porch and an eating porch.
Marc did a great job, having to fit the house on the lot and stay within the guidelines, says Buck, whose son Ryan formed another member of the team. Our challenge was to make sure that the house would go right where we said it would go. There are some specific angles that made it fit just right on the lot and gave it some unique features.
Once those difficulties were remedied, owners, builders and architect kept an ongoing dialogue throughout the 16 months of construction to create a home which the Dabruzzis say is as near to perfect as they can imagine.
Nestled amid island vegetation, the homes exterior combines cedar shingle siding and copper roofing to blend in with the marsh landscape. Imitation Savannah gray bricks form the foundation of the home, while 200-year-old Charleston gray bricks form the walkways. Inside, that same Charleston gray was used in the facing for the fireplace, the kitchen island and the all important wine cellar.
Rich is very active in the wine community in Atlanta, explains Maureen, so it had to be a crucial part of the house. Located just as you come in the door, the cellar has some attributes of its own. While its 60-square-foot interior can hold up to 600 bottles of wine, if need be, it can also serve another purpose. We have built wine cellars before, says Buck, but theirs was unique in that it is made entirely out of concrete and is inside the house. It has concrete walls, floors and ceiling. It makes it sort of a storm shelter should they need it for a hurricane.
The Dabruzzis love of entertaining is reflected in the flow between the great room, the wine cellar and the spacious kitchen. The custom cabinetry and trim designed by Renae Buck sets this kitchen apart.
The cabinets turned out beautifully, says Rich. They are all handmade American cherry, dark cherry and light cherry and heart pine. They are unique.
The marsh colors are reflected throughout the entire home. All four bedrooms, the library, office and even the workout room maintain that theme. The warm wood floors complement the wheat color used for the halls. You will find sweetgrass in the bathrooms and even one bedroom in a pumpkin hue.
The master suite is done in sage and occupies the entire second floor. Complete with two walk-in closets, a laundry room, a wet bar and sitting area, the suite is a home unto itself.
Friends ask us why we would ever leave our bedroom, laughs Rich. We have a framed view of the marsh with nothing to impede it. We have everything we need up there. When asked which room is their favorite, neither Rich nor Maureen could decide. It is hard to say, says Maureen, pausing. Any room I can sit in and see the view outside makes it special. You can see the view from the kitchen, the great room, one back room, my bedroom, just about every room. I just love the whole house.
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