July 2016

Synergistic Revamp

Author: Rebecca Edwards | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Left:The stairwell is the only original architectural element in the house.
Right:Neutral layers of color and texture blend with a mixed use of finishes to complete a warm comfortable living room.

Kelly Caron, James Atkins and Ben Kennedy combine talents to turn an outdated home with disconnected spaces into a luxurious waterfront retreat.

With expansive views of both Calibogue Sound and Broad Creek, few communities in the Lowcountry are as special as Brams Point in Spanish Wells. And, according to Kelly Caron, ASID, NCIDQ of Kelly Caron Designs, few renovation projects are as cool, collaborative, cohesive and custom designed as one particular house on Brams Point.

“This house is truly unique; I feel fortunate to have worked on this project, because the end result is casual elegance at its best,” Caron said. “I have to give props to the clients. The client-designer relationship was seamless; everyone was open to and respectful of each other’s input, and everyone was patient to get the right outcome.”


Soft and quiet colors complete the clients’ personal sitting room.

James Atkins of Court Atkins Architects agreed. “This project took vision, patience and trust. The original house was a maze of disconnected spaces that didn’t have a sense of place or take advantage of the views and capture the beauty of the site,” he said. “The knee jerk reaction for most people would have been to tear down the house and start new.”

The president of Brighton Builders and the person responsible for bringing the entire renovation team together, Ben Kennedy, admitted, “There was discussion initially about tearing down the house, but the homeowner believed the house had character, so we decided to bring it back to life,” Ben Kennedy said. And that they did.


Alabaster white cabinetry pops against beautiful walnut floors. Unique lighting elements were used to further enhance each space.

A comfortable blend of warm and cool colors work nicely with the brightness of art from Muse Art Gallery.

The creamy neutral tones of the fabrics and rug blend with light caramel colors and walnut finishes to bring a comfort level of warmth and coziness to the space.

Kennedy, Atkins and Caron, as well as a long list of local craftsmen and vendors including Cregger Plumbing, Hagemeyer Lighting, Savannah Hardscapes, Savannah Surfaces, AGM Imports, Bird Hardware, KPM Flooring, Litchfield Cabinetry, Antique Heart Pine Flooring Company, Low Country Shelving & Glass, PLAY and Gourmet Home Technology and Muse Gallery worked for over two years to transform the home. “I have to commend the owners for having faith in their renovation team. Every structure has a story, and we believed this one had one worth telling. It was built on higher ground and had no floodplain issues,” Atkins said. “There is something fun and challenging about re-envisioning an existing house, using what is there and making it better.”

To tour the home is like stepping into an alternate spa-like universe, where everyone feels welcome and everyone should pour a glass of wine and unwind—which was the homeowners’ intent.

“My husband and I felt we needed a space that felt like a retreat and a fresh start,” the homeowner said, as she pointed out chill-out elements like the wine cooler in the master bedroom closet, tubs raised to capitalize on the gorgeous water views and the mother of pearl inlay in the master bathroom (which also has monogrammed knobs on the cabinetry).

“Sometimes luxurious can be heavy and gaudy, but this house is comfortable and light. Every aspect of the home accentuates the clients’ taste,” Kennedy said.

As Kennedy and Atkins worked to make the house structurally sound, Caron began pulling fabrics, finishes and colors. “The clients emphasized the importance of their want for a functional, comfortable living space. We started with neutral fabrics with texture or small print throughout the living room, dining room, and kitchen areas. We layered warm creamy whites with caramel accents. We introduced some light color in the sea-foam, green-blue color palette in the rugs and art. It was important to use the neutral colors in a balanced way throughout the open living floor plan,” Caron said.

Kennedy and Atkins added approximately 1,000 square feet of living space between the house and the garage guest suite, but did not expand the approximately 4,500-square-foot home. They also made several significant structural modifications to open and handcraft each space so that the rooms celebrate the spectacular natural surroundings, flow together, and yet each have their own uniqueness. Atkins said he also used the original stairs and fireplace to his advantage, both of which initially segmented the house and hindered the view, “There is something special about a home that doesn’t reveal all its secrets right at the front door. We used these features as a way to layer the space and invite you in to look around.”

The continued use of warm neutrals with the spa (Silver Strand) color create a peaceful and dreamy room.

Opal colored mosaic tile was chosen for the floor, and the entire master suite was built around that first selection. The mixed use of finishes allow each element to show-off.

Of course, a house of this design caliber has several wow-inducing elements, and when asked which was his favorite, Kennedy responded, “As the builder, I’m sentimental. I’m attached to it all. It’s all just so special.” Caron and Atkins shared similar sentiments with each gravitating toward his professional stamp. Pointing out the mixed use of materials, Caron said, “Although the main living area is an open floor plan concept, I did not want it to feel like all the metal finishes or textures had to match. During selections and design meetings, we were thoughtful and successful in blending silver tones with warm gold tones and iron finishes. This helped establish individual spaces in an open floor plan, while keeping interest for each area.” Atkins appreciated the challenge of capitalizing on the raw natural beauty of the property. “From room to room, you get to experience the view from a new perspective,” he said.

Upon interviewing others involved in the project, and walking through the home, there is a general consensus that the house is livable and yet stylized. Hali Lookabaugh from Muse Gallery talked about the artwork in the living room. “[The homeowner] had a true connection with the Randall LaGro oil on panel piece,” Lookabaugh said. “She told me, ‘I find myself just staring at it,’ which is the beauty of abstract work, because it compels and provokes us to tell our own story about the work.”

Courtney Jansen, lead sales representative at Distinctive Granite and Marble at the Hilton Head location, talked about the great selection and relationship with AGM Imports that allowed them to work together to make the client’s vision a reality. And everyone agreed that the pool, for which Kennedy found and personally laid out the stones to match a photo the homeowner had submitted, was certainly cool.

“We’re very proud of the end result. This home feels like it has always been here, but fresh, updated and extremely livable,” Atkins said. “It’s not another characterless mansion, but a home with personality and a property that is one of a kind.” 

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