November 2018

Building Beyond: Stunning oceanfront home by Brighton Builders revels in oceanfront luxury

Author: Barry Kaufman

There’s a saying that applies to so many situations in life, written on motivational posters and exercise apparel the world over: Go big or go home. Brighton Builders has found a way to do both with this jaw-dropping oceanfront home. As you’d expect from a first-row manor right on the water, it’s big: 8,500 square feet indoors and out comprise the many grand living spaces that make up the property. Considering the narrow footprint of the lot they had to work with, it’s a wonder of engineering.

But perhaps more remarkable is how none of the 8,500 square feet overwhelm. “We tried to make the house feel as comfortable as possible without making it too big,” said Ben Kennedy of Brighton Builders. “The house doesn’t feel big when you walk in. It feels more impressive than big.”

Impressive is the correct word for this masterpiece of modern luxury construction. And while some might have seen a challenge in the confinement of a narrow lot, Brighton saw opportunity to create drama and upend some of the standard rules of homebuilding.

Begin with one of the cardinal rules of homebuilding: The entrance must do nothing less than drop jaws, while the rear of the house can largely be utilitarian. Towering brick facades, Romanesque pillars stretching to the sky—this is how a modern home greets you. And then in the back, maybe some patios or something. Whatever.

Brighton Builders subverted this trope to marvelous effect, with an entryway that pleases the eye but mostly serves to draw you in so that you can be properly dazzled by the home’s sublime oceanfront views.

“You walk in the front door, look straight back and all you see is ocean. It’s meant to embrace you as soon as you walk in the front door,” Kennedy said. “That, to me, is a staggering moment.”

That scenery played a central role in the design philosophy of the house, with the rear of the property boasting some of the most elegant living spaces, both indoor and outdoor. As a home, it’s a celebration of oceanfront living.

“Everywhere you go in the back of that house is picturesque,” Kennedy said. “The rear of the house was important because of the views. We wanted to absorb every bit of the ocean.”

Outdoor living spaces on the ground floor exult in five-star resort amenities, from the spacious pool to the comfortable splash-down jacuzzi. As the pool deck gives way to travertine, the wide patio offers an al fresco living space, complete with retractable screens to seal off the area from no-see-ums, and wide doors of sliding glass to meld the indoor and outdoor living spaces.

And up above, you’ll find some of the most architecturally intriguing elements of the home. A wide upper balcony creates the perfect atmosphere for entertaining, with panoramic views of the ocean and light breezes that carry just a hint of salt air.

But the most eye-catching element of this second floor is the large rotunda, which spins third-coast Michigan cottage charm into the Lowcountry appeal of the home.

From the outside, it contributes an intriguing angle to the roofline. From the inside, it surrounds you with oceanfront scenery and blissful comfort. In a house filled with exquisite craftsmanship and luxurious spaces, Kennedy considers this his favorite.

“It feels like you’re sitting out on the beach,” he said. “You could sit there all day just reading a book and never want to leave. As soon as you walk in you instantly relax.”


Outdoor living spaces on the ground floor exult in five-star resort amenities, from the spacious pool to the comfortable splash-down jacuzzi. As the pool deck gives way to travertine, the wide patio offers an al fresco living space, complete with retractable screens to seal off the area from no-see-ums, and wide doors of sliding glass to meld the indoor and outdoor living spaces.

That instant relaxation owes a good deal to the stunning waterfront views, which can also be found in the master bedroom just to the other side of the wide balcony. Set in a neutral color scheme and marked by a sense of spaciousness from vaulted ceilings, the master is a blissful retreat that enjoys some of the home’s finest views. It also benefits from the dedication to luxury found throughout the house, with a spa-like en suite that luxuriates in high-end finishes and amenities from a standalone soaking tub and cavernous walk-in shower.

And you’ll find similar adherence to quality in each of the home’s seven bedrooms, as in the kids’ retreat that offers built-in bunkbeds that conceal a secret play area. Or the way each bedroom places a high priority on privacy, while never forgetting that this is a family home, one marked by open space for coming together to share a meal or a sunset.

The first floor’s open living space was built around the views, but has plenty of architectural intrigue to offer its own visual spectacle. Parallel accent walls of brick contrast with crisp whites and neutral tones in a formal dining and conversation area set before a fireplace. And the placement of the kitchen’s wide center island gives the space its proper due as the heart of the house, while allowing the home’s chef to enjoy the scenery while making preparations.

And in the event of entertaining, the second floor doubles the amount of living space with its own self-sustaining ecosystem of a wine bar, sitting area and kitchenette.

It’s a setup that speaks to the depth of planning that went into the home. With the assistance of Benchmark Design Studios in Michigan, Brighton Builders went into this with every detail mapped and accounted for.

“Every space was planned out. Every light fixture, the trim designed around it, was all planned out,” Kennedy said. “Everything was specifically designed and customized to fit this house. There was no guess work; it was like putting a big puzzle together once you have all the pieces set.”

Of course, there are always factors you can’t control. (Two hurricanes, a snowstorm and a hail storm all occurred during construction.) Plus, there was the swimming pool they found under the old structure that nobody knew about until they started digging into it. “That was quite an ordeal,” Kennedy laughed.
But forces of wind and weather and unforeseen swimming pools could not deter Brighton Builders from creating in this space a home that defines their mission statement.

“We build beyond,” Kennedy said. “Our motto is ‘Build Beyond,’ and this is a perfect example of what that means.”

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