April 2018

HGTV Smart Home 2018: Classic with a Twist, Palmetto Bluff-Style

Author: Kitty Bartell

The personality of a home is felt in only a matter of moments. Nowhere is that more apt than when walking into the HGTV Smart Home 2018, located on a quiet street in Palmetto Bluff. Part of a $1.6 million prize package to be awarded in July, this home speaks clearly of the Lowcountry, of the unique nature of Palmetto Bluff, and of Tiffany Brooks, the home’s “classic with a twist” interior designer.

In her fourth year as the host and designer of the HGTV Smart Home, Brooks must be hitting her stride, because the Palmetto Bluff home is replete with her a-bit-out-of-the-box approach to materials, textures, colors, and design. “From the walls to the beams to the fireplace to the artwork, I had a lot of fun with pattern mixing,” she said. “I didn’t want anything to feel too matchy-matchy. Everything came together.”


Smart features abound throughout this beautiful Palmetto Bluff home. The kitchen comes equipped with a Jenn-Air Built-in Coffee System, making lattes and perfectly frothed cappuccinos possible with the touch of a button. Want to watch the news while making dinner? Turn on CabiTV, a seamlessly integrated TV cabinet door custom made to fit into your kitchen cabinetry. It boasts HD picture quality and a mirror finish when turned off.

The Chicago-based designer, took her aesthetic and adapted it to the Lowcountry vibe of this Smart Home. Some of her favorite things in the house are the pipe/industrial shelving covering portions of the expansive windows over the kitchen sink and counter, the hand-painted cement tiles in the laundry (very on-trend, she said), the rethinking of the wood paneling in the powder room, and the metal fireplace feature in the living room, symmetrically-designed to mimic a Lowcountry fishing net.

The vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom are a bright surprise, as are the solar powered VELUX® skylights, equipped with energy-efficient glass. Sensors in the windows even trigger them to close when it begins to rain. Judiciously selected technology was used to install a coffee maker that rises from the master bath counter, Smart Touch Vanity Mirrors, and Smart Tint® switchable glass film.


Both the master bathroom and powder room feature Kohler’s most advanced bathroom asset, dubbed the Numi Toilet. This motion activated cover and seat uses sensors for hands free opening and closing. It also features a heated seat and foot warmer. Your selection of personal preferences can be made through the touch-screen remote.

The home’s bedrooms and baths have distinct personalities, and all are designed around luxurious Sleep Number® beds, with features ranging from individual air pressure monitoring to foot warming. The three ensuite baths and the first-floor powder room feature Kohler’s Numi toilets. The experience here must be what it is like … ah-hmm … to visit the loo on the space shuttle if the space shuttle had five-star accommodations. The seats are motion-activated for hands-free opening and closing, and each commode has its own remote control, providing the user with personalized lighting, music, seat and foot warming, and more. I do believe we have liftoff.

Designed by Markalunas Architecture Group from Greenville, South Carolina, the HGTV Smart Home follows on the success of the firm’s previous Palmetto Bluff projects. “We did the Wilson Cottages that are around the Lawn and Racquet Club,” principal, Thomas Markalunas said. “We have also designed seven custom homes here, including this project.”


The outdoor space is also equipped with smart technology including Gro, which is part of Scott’s Backyard of the Future. This is a new system which uses smart technology, including the Gro app, to monitor the weather and conditions in your yard. It is an irigation controller that uses real-time weather data to help automate watering and allows the user to turn on sprinklers through a smart phone.

At 2,850-square-feet, making every inch of the home useful was a necessity. “In this case, what we tried to do was create a plan that was efficient that could be smaller,” Markalunas said. “If you can create a really good small house that lives like a big house, in my mind, that is the definition of smart, because every bit of space that you don’t waste helps the end user.”

For Markalunas, incorporating smart technology is a matter of flexibility. “People are looking for technology that is modifiable to their needs. Fortunately, today you don’t have to put in a lot of hardwire infrastructure; you can do something unobtrusive and modifiable,” he said. “People are looking for ease of operation and something that’s not going to be out of date in three or four years.”


Entries for the HGTV Smart Home 2018 sweepstakes will be accepted April 17, 2018 – June 7, 2018. The prize package includes the Palmetto Bluff home and all of its furnishings, 1 2018 Mercedes Benz GLC 350e Plug-In Hybrid, and $100,000 in cash from Quicken Loans. To enter, visit hgtv.com.

Living bigger within less square footage was further achieved by designing an expansive back porch that includes a comfortable living space and a second dining room. Enclosed by phantom screens that very nearly seem to disappear when lowered to keep the no-see-ums and mosquitos at bay, the architect, the builder, and the interior designer all highlighted it as a favorite space. “The idea that the screens stow away is a really nice way to be able to open up the inside to the outside,” said the HGTV home’s builder, Chris Dalzall, owner of Bluffton-based Shoreline Construction. Overlooking a wooded Lowcountry view, the living space continues around a four-seat fire pit and grilling area, providing sanctuary amidst nature.

The HGTV Palmetto Bluff Smart Home 2018 has a wish list for the architect, and a punch list for the builder, that could successfully fulfill any homebuilding enthusiast’s bucket list. “When you do a home like this, a lot of sponsors want their products in the home,” Dalzell said. “It’s definitely not a traditional project, because a lot of times the sponsor either direct shipped or drop shipped them to the site. It’s not as easy as just running down to the local supply house.” Alongside all the sponsored products and materials is a docket of home features selected by the architecture and design team to enhance not only the smart-factor of the home, but its overall livability.

Because the fascinating features of this home go on-and-on-and-on, following are just some of the products and features not already mentioned: A SimpliSafe’s SS3 professional grade security system, which operates even when the power is out and installs in minutes. A ChargePoint® home charging station in the garage. Hidden behind a secret Murphy Door™ bookcase in the cozy reading space at the top of the stairs is a gaming/virtual reality room that includes a PlayStation 4 and VR headset, and Nanoleaf personalized lighting. Gro, a smart irrigation system by Scotts Backyard of the Future that uses real-time weather data to control the care and keeping of the home’s outdoor zones.

At first glance, the HGTV Smart Home 2018 is filled with warmth, and tradition, and technology, and a bit of a rock ’n’ roll vibe. “My stamp is strongest in the surface and finish selections, and the decorative affect,” Brooks said. “The first impression when you walk in is everything about me.” So very, very cool.

Entries for the HGTV Smart Home 2018 sweepstakes will be accepted April 17, 2018 through June 7, 2018. The prize package includes the Palmetto Bluff home and all its furnishings, a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e Plug-In Hybrid, and $100,000 in cash from Quicken Loans®. To find out more about the HGTV Smart Home 2018 or to enter the sweepstakes, visit hgtv.com.

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