August 2019

Ocean Peek at its Peak: This second-row stunner takes a family-friendly layout and cranks up the artistic finishes for a lively vacation getaway

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Backwater Photography


A combination of shakes, board and batten and exposed rafter tails plays on Lowcountry style with Southern charm.

As Jodi Ripepi guides me through her stunning second-row Palmetto Dunes home, she speaks in elevated tones to be heard over the sounds of the hit kids’ show Nailed It. Our conversation is punctuated with the serving of breakfast for two energetic boys, one of whom is fresh off of a VR headset mishap that resulted in a tumble. The noise, the tumult and the activity reinforce one of the central tenets of this home’s construction.

“We wanted everything to be open,” Ripepi said. “We have a big family.”

This is, at heart, a family home. One boasting meticulous craftsmanship, luxurious open spaces and eye-catching custom finishes, but a family home first and foremost. It informs the way the open living space encourages the whole group to come together and the way smaller spaces allow for a little parental “me time.”

Start with the main living space, the heart of which is a spacious living room boasting custom built-ins flanking a flat-screen TV and a cozy fireplace. The wide sectional can be both a sophisticated spot to enjoy cocktails or a jungle gym for the kids, transitioning with ease. To one side of this family hub, a wall of ingenious pocket doors opens wide to a spacious lanai with semi-al fresco dining for 10 and a classic Lowcountry outdoor fireplace and TV.

To another, the space transitions in stages toward the kitchen, through a granite-topped wet bar and farmhouse-style table with seating for an additional 10 and bar seating at a center island for six more. Feeding the small army that the dining areas host is a chef’s dream of a kitchen, where we see the first of many artistic touches supplied by Ripepi’s sister, Michele Molek.


PGT retractable doors make a seamless entry from the living room to the screened-in porch, pocketing left and right versus just one direction and disappearing completely into the wall.

“She did the range hood and a lot of the faux finishing throughout the house,” Ripepi said. She points them out as we tour, like the hand-painted textures behind the living room bookshelves and the geode-style patterns on the powder room wall. “She can make anything look like anything.”

And then, of course, there is the ultimate come-together space in the home for this outdoorsy family, the spacious pool deck with its full kitchen, conversation area with TV and sparkling pool and splash-down jacuzzi. “We live in Pittsburgh, where it’s always cold and gray,” Ripepi said, “so we try to spend as much time outside as we can when we’re down here.” As such, one of the family’s favorite details of the house is the secluded outdoor shower, where everyone can rinse off straight from a day at the beach.

But these are all the spaces to come together. Part of what defines this house is the quiet corners where family can escape for a moment of solitude. Ripepi is torn on her favorite. There is the blissfully bright sunroom, where she enjoys her morning coffee amid plush sofas and panoramic views, or the wide front porch where she and her girlfriends gather for a glass of wine at sunset. The two boys are a little less conflicted; their domicile is the upstairs loft with its powerhouse gaming setup boasting dual TVs.

Throughout these open family areas and quiet nooks, the house is informed by a sophisticated sensibility underscored by quality construction. “We picked the Jeffcoats because they’re awesome and they’re noted for their craftsmanship and the little details in things like ceilings,” Ripepi said, pointing to the wooden accent piece on the ceiling that brilliantly, but subtly, demarcates the kitchen.


This special nook is the perfect place for early morning coffee and also provides the kitchen area with more natural light.

Working with the Jeffcoats gave the Ripepis abundant ways to make the space their own. Midway through construction, they realized that an upstairs window, which topped an open foyer, gave the best beach views in the house. “Our friends ask if we’re beachfront. I say we’re beach peek,” Ripepi said. The upstairs loft was extended out over the foyer, creating another quiet space with breathtaking scenery.

And touring the bedrooms, you’ll find that each en suite offers up its own unique tile motif. “There were so many choices, I just couldn’t pick,” Ripepi said. “I figured, why do the same thing over and over?”

Randy Jeffcoat Builders worked closely with the homeowners to make their vision a reality. “It’s exciting to work with clients who come with a vision and to be able to bring that to fruition,” Rhett Jeffcoat of Jeffcoat Builders said. Listening to their goals for an open-floor concept encompassing various details, the Jeffcoat team designed the Ripepi’s perfect Lowcountry beach house.

One of the biggest challenges, according to Jeffcoat, was making this open concept work, while still giving the family the bedrooms and additions they needed. “It was our mission to make it possible with the restrictions of setbacks and roof height in Palmetto Dunes to give these clients exactly what they wanted: an open floor layout including six bedrooms and five and a half baths. It’s hard to get all those bedrooms in and still have open space, but we came together with the clients and architect and came up with their perfect design.”

Taking details like the X-beam design in the foyer and drawing that throughout the house, they also added X-detailing on the staircase cable rails. “Cohesive details make the transition from room to room seamless, while making the home feel cozy and put together. It takes you from a staged model home to a nicely designed and livable house to make memories in,” Jeffcoat said.


The upstairs game loft features dual TVs with a custom built-in gaming center, located conveniently off the bunk room—a dream for the kids’ entertainment.

Ripepi pulled the majority of their lighting fixtures and furniture from Restoration Hardware, working closely with Nina Bartolotto, the in-house selections coordinator for Randy Jeffcoat Builders. The mixture of neutral details with bold accents throughout gives this beach home unique elements that add up to a wow factor.

Ultimately, the Ripepis were able to create their dream vacation getaway, a haven from the iron clouds of the Steel City—big enough for the entire family, down to each niece and nephew, with enough space to enjoy each other’s company or just unwind amid the trappings of a luxury home.

In short, Ripepi said, “This is our happy place. 


The sports pool with two shallow ends is designed to accommodate volleyball and other games that are usually impossible to play in a pool with a shallow and deep end.

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