You are here

Stylish Lowcountry Home with a Neutral Palette

Taking style cues from the past fills a new South Carolina retreat with all the charm befitting its picturesque setting

Written by Brielle Ferreira
  • Josh Gibson

    There’s a special beauty to the marshes in South Carolina’s Lowcountry: the ripple-free water, the gentle whisper of the long grasses when they catch the breeze, and the way the scene turns to gold in the late afternoon sun. Unfortunately, for out-of-towners Renee and Alan Levow, the search for their own vacation home on Kiawah Island wasn’t quite as magical. “We couldn’t find anything we liked,” says Renee. “It seemed everything we were seeing would require major renovations.” So, rather than continue hunting for a lived-in, well-worn house, they decided to build a home they could fill with a history of their own. 

    Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill and Josh Gibson
    Produced by Eleanor Roper

    Architect: Wayne Windham, Wayne Windham Architect, 1779 Main Rd., Johns Island, SC 29455; 843/243-0790, and 46 Wharf St., Bluffton, SC 29910; 843/815-3266,
    Architect: Laura DePree, Laura DePree Architect, 1630 Doncaster Drive N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309; 404/685-0202.
    Interior designer: Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., Suite 11B-4, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/869-6367,  

    Chaise lounge (“Belvedere”); cushions (“Belvedere Chaise Cushions”/Canvas Charcoal”): Restoration Hardware,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Architectural Influence

    That history, as it turned out, would date all the way back to the 16th century. Enlisting the help of architects Laura Howard DePree and Wayne Windham, Renee made clear her desire for a classic, beautifully proportioned house that would take its cues from the designs of Italian architect Andrea Palladio, with details like peaked roofs and thick columns. “Laura and I had just been to the Morgan Library & Museum in New York for a celebration of his 400-year anniversary, and all of his structures still seemed relevant and timeless,” she says. “They’ll never go out of style, and that’s exactly what I wanted for my own home.”

    Italian architect Andrea Palladio’s influence is evident in the home’s exterior details, such as the peaked roofs.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Peaceful Nook

    The house, nestled on three acres of undeveloped land, needed to look as if it had always been there and always would be. The interiors had to follow suit, all while deferring to the lovely marsh views that first attracted the couple to the secluded spot. While Renee tackled the job of furnishing the home with gusto, she soon realized she would have to call in reinforcements, which arrived in the form of Atlanta-based interior designer Beth Webb.

    This quiet space sets the tone for the rest of the house, mixing sharp architectural details like a built-in bench with understated fabrics on the cushion and pillows.

    Floors (7-inch white oak, custom finish): Purser Wood Floors, 704/366-1935. 

    Window-seat area—
    Bench-drawer hardware (“Dakota Wire Pull”/Rustic Pewter): Restoration Hardware,
    Linen bench cushion and trim (“Shannon” #3675): Pindler & Pindler,
    Pillows: Bungalow Classic,
    Sconces (“Small Aspect Articulating Sconce” #BBL2028, by Barbara Barry): Circa Lighting,
    Wall paint (“Sheep’s Wool #857): Benjamin Moore,  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Quiet Living Room

    “Renee had done a lot of research,” interior designer Webb notes, “but we were on the same page the whole time. We’re stylistically very similar. It’s what I would have done if I were designing my own beach house.”

    Together, the two outfitted the spaces with elegant pieces of furniture that borrow their interest from shapely silhouettes and highly textural fabrics. They kept everything calm and neutral to allow the focus of each room to remain on the scenery outside the windows.

    The coffee table’s pebble-smooth honed marble top forms a compelling contrast with the heavily textured Belgian linen on the Verellen sofas. 

    Wall paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin Williams,
    Fire screen (custom): Scott Antique Markets,
    Fireballs: Blazing Glass,
    Mantel accessories; mirror (discontinued); wing chair (“Amelie” by Verellen in “Cambridge Charcoal” fabric); coffee table (“Three Piece Oval Stone and Metal Cocktail Table”); console table (discontinued); sofas (“Pierre,” in fabric “Casual Linen”/Oatmeal, by Verellen); pillows (“Newberry Fretwork”/Spa): Bungalow Classic,
    Area rug (“Leila Kara Rug,” discontinued): Restoration Hardware,
    End table beside small sofa  (“Cara Side Table”): Made Goods,
    End table beside large sofa (“Lincoln Large Sterling Pull-Up Table”): Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams,
    Drapery (“Natural Linen” #1000C.NT): Ulster Linen Co.,
    Drapery hardware (custom): Bradley,
    Table lamp: owner’s collection.   

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Calming Space

    Careful material and palette choices, like the wood floors in a soothing driftwood hue and the endless creams and whites on the walls throughout, ensure a seamless connection between the indoors and out. “I wanted the natural setting to be the main character of the house,” says Renee. “Everything we did had to enhance it.”

    But things got a little tricky when Renee and Webb began to introduce the homeowners’ extensive art collection into the new spaces—many of the works came with instructions to avoid direct sun. Where to place them in the rooms presented a particular challenge considering the numerous large windows throughout. Luckily, though, DePree had already accounted for that. “Laura was really the genius on the project,” Webb says. “She thought of everything. She gave us plenty of shaded walls but somehow lots of light too. It gives the home a real sense of balance.”

    The coffee table is one of Renee Levow’s favorite pieces. The mirror above the mantel reflects the room’s calm atmosphere. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Dining Room

    In fact, the entire house feels balanced: firmly straddling the line between old and new, classic and contemporary, sophisticated and informal. In the dining room, sleek wing chairs join slipcovered side chairs and a plush upholstered banquette in challenging the typical notion of formal dining, while the space’s tall, matching cabinets and ornate chandelier lend a certain gravitas.

    Designer Beth Webb wanted the dining area to be more than just a place to take meals, so she filled it with mismatched slipcovered and upholstered seating for added comfort and function. 

    Wall paint (“Alabaster” #SW-7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    China cabinet (“19th C. Swedish Brasserie Double-Door Glass Cabinet” #61460020): Restoration Hardware,
    China in cabinet (from Macy’s and West Elm): owner’s collection.
    Chairs (“Parsons Dining Chair”); host chairs (“Amelie Chairs” in fabric “Cambridge Charcoal” by Verellen); banquette (“Palermo Banquette”); banquette fabric (Velvet #VDE20020-I, Collection 1); pillows on banquette; dining tablevases: Bungalow Classic,
    Chandelier (“Murano Glass Chandelier”/Clear): Design Within Reach,
    Roman shade: Ulster Linen,
    Trim on shades (#1025-18): Janet Yonaty,
    Art (by Pat Steir): owner’s collection.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Clean Kitchen

    The traditional kitchen, with its raised-panel cabinetry, gets some unexpected midcentury glamour thanks to an eat-in area built around a Saarinen table and Emeco chairs.

    The homeowners turned to kitchen designer Linda McLain to develop a plan for an entertainment-friendly workhorse of a room that looks bright and inviting thanks to honed Carrara marble countertops and GE Monogram stainless steel appliances. 

    Wall paint (“Sheep’s Wool” #857): Benjamin Moore,
    Ceiling and trim paint, cabinetry finish (“Bright White” #SW 7007); island paint (“Grizzle Gray” #SW 7068): Sherwin-Williams,
    Cabinetry: Signature Kitchens,
    Cabinetry hardware (“6-inch Maddox Pull;” “8-inch Maddox Pull;” 11/4-inch Maddox Knob”): Restoration Hardware,
    Countertop: Carrara marble, honed.
    Sink: custom.
    Main faucet (“Odeon One Hole Low Profile Kitchen Faucet, Metal Lever Handle”/Matte Nickel #ODKM13): Waterworks,
    Island faucet (“Modern Architectural Side Lever Stainless Steel Pull-down Kitchen Faucet”#R7520): Rohl,
    Pitcher and bowls by sink: Bungalow Classic,
    Range; oven hood: GE Monogram,
    Faucets: Rohl,
    Pendant lights over island (“Large Country Industrial Pendant with Metal Shade” #CHC5136): Circa Lighting,
    Bar stools (“1006 Navy Barstool”/Brushed Aluminum): Design Within Reach,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Lovely Master Bedroom

    In the master suite, the bed’s oversized tufted headboard looks more laid-back and understated when paired with a roughly woven wicker bench and a cozy conversation nook. 

    Wall paint (“London Fog” #1541); trim paint (“Sheep’s Wool” #857): Benjamin Moore,
    Ceiling paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Drapery: Ulster Linen,
    Drapery hardware (custom): Bradley,
    Rug (“Hana Rug”/Grey); bedside chest (“Zinc 3-Drawer Dresser): Restoration Hardware,
    Bedside lamp: Scott Antique Markets,
    Bed (“Arthur Bed” #ATH-BED-010, by Cisco Brothers); headboard-and-bed skirt fabric (“Casual Linen”/Natural by Verellen); blue bed cover and shams; throw pillows on bed (“Newberry Fretwork”/Spa);  lounge chair and ottoman (“Oxford”); lounge-chair fabric (“Casual Linen”/Natural, by Verellen): Bungalow Classic,
    Duvet (Italian Hotel Satin Stitch Duvet”/Shore #14020040SHOR); matching shams (“Italian Hotel Satin Stitch Shams”/Shore #14020043SHOR): Restoration Hardware,
    Wicker bench at end of bed: B.D. Jeffries,
    Art above bed (by Terry Winters): owner’s collection.
    Armoire (“Reclaimed Lumber Circle Armoire” #OW001): CFC,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Bedroom Sitting Area

    Textures in the form of rich linen drapes, a rugged wicker bench from B.D. Jeffries, and a silky rug with subtle pattern from RH imbue the room with a peaceful, organic aesthetic. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Master Bath

    The striking striations in the Calacatta Gold marble on the countertops and around the Waterworks tub bring artistic flair to the cool, calming space; sconces are from Circa Lighting.

    Roman shade fabric (“Shannon”): Pindler & Pindler,
    Cabinetry hardware (“Traditional Clear Glass Pulls”/Polished Nickel, and “Traditional Clear Glass Knobs”/Polished Nickel): Restoration Hardware,
    Wall sconce (“French Deco Horn Sconce”/Polished Nickel #S2020, with Off White linen shade): Circa Lighting,
    Vanity countertop; bathtub surround: honed Calacatta Gold marble.
    Flooring: Lagos Azul honed gray limestone tiles.
    Sink; faucets (“Easton Vintage Low Profile Three-Hole Deck Mounted Lavatory Faucet with White Porcelain Lever Handles”/Nickel, #EALS13, Easton Collection); bathtub; bath faucets (“Easton Classic Low Profile Concealed Tub Filler with Handshower and White Porcelain Lever Handles” #EATF03, Easton Collection): Waterworks,
    Vanity chair; stool (“Miro Stool”): Bungalow Classic,

  • Josh Gibson

    Guest Room

    For Webb, the true magic of the project only hit her during the grand reveal. “It’s poignant in so many ways to know that you’ve helped to build this thing that’s going to keep creating memories for that family,” she says. And, for her part, Renee can’t wait to do just that—even going so far as to install a small bunkroom for her not-yet-born but eagerly anticipated grandchildren. 

    In one of the guest rooms, a light and lovely color palette prevails. Details provide a jolt of bright yellow—drawn from the art above the bed.

    Wall paint (“Sheep’s Wool” #857): Benjamin Moore,
    Headboard (“Soho”); bedside table (“2 Drawer Bedside Table”); art; pillows; accessories: Bungalow Classic,
    Lamps: Pierce Martin,
    Bedding: Pottery Barn,
    Bench (“Vintage Market Crate Chair” with Cushion); rug: Restoration Hardware,  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Gorgeous Porch

    Sunlight streams through the semi-sheer drapes and onto the handsome Brazilian ipe wood deck. The outdoor sofa and chairs are from RH, and the sconces are from Circa Lighting. 

    Wicker chairs (“Provence Bucket Armchair”); cushions (Canvas Charcoal); striped pillows (“Cote D’Azure” by Perennials); coffee table (“Leagrave Coffee Table”/Teak); drapery (outdoor sheer drapery panels in Natural): Restoration Hardware,
    Drapery hardware (custom): Bradley,
    Wall lanterns (“Suffork”): Circa Lighting,
    Ceiling fan: Modern Fan Co.,
    Flooring (white oak, finished to look like driftwood): Purser Wood Floors, 704/366-1935.
    Wall paint (“Northern Cliffs” #1536): Benjamin Moore,
    Ceiling and trim paint (“Alabaster” #SW 7008): Sherwin-Williams,
    Lantern on exterior wall (“Tall Linear Lantern”/Bronze #CHO2910): Circa Lighting,
    Chair under lantern (“Provence Dining Side Chair”/Weathered Gray): Restoration Hardware,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Homeowner Portrait

    “I love every inch of the house,” Renee says. “There are no regrets, no second thoughts. I’m never happier than when I’m here.”

    Alan and Renee Levow on a walkway through the marshes that surround their home in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill