Coastal Living magazine builds a house from scratch every year to make homeowners across America jealous … and to give them design tips, of course. This year’s location just happened to be a spot right here in the Lowcountry. Daniel Island was selected as the best U.S. city of 2012, and Coastal Living decided to create their “idea house” on this little slice of South Carolina paradise.

The beachfront, 4,000-plus square foot home features an open floor plan, extensive porches, a carriage house, and a private dock. A crew of top designers created the showhouse from the ground up. Jeff Elliott of Daniel Island Company served as the landscape architect and developer, Jamison Howard of Max Crosby Construction Co. as the builder, Suzanne Stern of Our Town Plans for architectural designs, and Ginger Brewton of Ginger Brewton Interiors for the interior design. The editor of Coastal Living, Antonia van der Meer, was also there to show off the mag’s house of the year.

I got an early inside view of the coastal mansion in a private tour right alongside the dream team itself.

First look: curb appeal. The house is located on Wando View St., right on the water. With a boat at the end of the dock ready to go, the curbside is the Atlantic itself. Kind of impressive.

Second peek: first floor. Once you enter the door, you can turn left into the dining room, right to head to the bar and lounge room, or head straight down the broad hallway to a huge space turned into a living room on one side and enormous kitchen and smaller eating space on the other side. Everything seems open and flows together nicely, with no awkward walls jutting out to block your view into the next room.

Details: they make all the difference. One of those little details that really tied everything together was the choice of flooring. The grayish-hued white oak matte floorboards with unique graining on each piece are what really gave the showhome that “coastal living” feel. Builder Jamison Howard explained the effort spent picking the perfect wood and making sure each floorboard was the perfect balance of graining detail and smooth surface.

Colors: pops of hue in every room. Each room incorporated different colors, which made the house one big (and tasteful) rainbow. Ginger Brewton, the interior designer, explained she was trying to incorporate as many bright colors as she could throughout the home, but in a way that wasn’t tacky. That’s hard to do, and the only room that failed on the tacky scale was the orange bathroom downstairs. Some strategically placed teal accents toned down those walls, but if the wallpaper and accents had switched colors, I think it would have achieved less of an unpleasant affect.

Special treats: extra spaces. Now, the real treat for me on the first floor has to be a tie between the unexpected bar and a storage-lined stairway leading out in the yard. The bar was walled-in with cabinets to stock your alcohol bevs and display your collection of wine glasses. The bar stools and chairs added a pop of color with a unique navy and cream geometric pattern. The stairway toward the outdoors was decorated with coastal charm, lined with baskets for storage space, with cute touches like a game of checkers and beach towel sticking out. Both spaces added that extra something that made it a modern, luxurious architectural design. 

Upstairs: meet the bedrooms. The master was the most breathtaking room in the house and rightly so. Featuring a full wall of French windows opening out onto a private porch and a lavish bathroom and huge walk-in closets on the opposite side, it was stunning. The little girl’s bedroom across the hall had cute touches, like polka-dot curtains in a unique lavender-mauve mix and its own outside porch. Further down the hall was the guest room, incorporating a calming teal paint on the walls and splashes of lime in the pillows and headboard.

Lighting: cheers to the chandeliers. I can’t forget to mention the beautiful light fixtures throughout the home. Each chandelier and lamp was different, but somehow managed to evade a gaudy or overpowering feel.

You don’t realize all the specifics that it takes to create a home until you build one yourself, but Coastal Living did it right on their 2013 showhouse. From the floorboards to the light fixtures, they somehow made this Daniel Island house feel like it was part of the island all along.

The idea house will be open for public tours through Oct. 20. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s tours will benefit the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the MS Society. For more info, visit

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