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Acclaimed Designer Nancy Braithwaite’s Oceanfront Kiawah Island Home Goes on the Market

Luxurious minimalism bathed in serene South Carolina light characterizes this family home.

In 2007, when interior designer Nancy Braithwaite, husband Jim, and their architect, James Choate, began erecting a contemporary home of poured concrete, glass, and Western cedar, they caused a minor stir in the neighborhood. Though the home had oblique classical references, it didn’t conform to the prevalent vernaculars of Kiawah Island: plantations, arts and crafts, and shingle cottages. And it was on Ocean Course Drive, one of the most desirable thoroughfares on Kiawah, which listing agent Kay Halsey calls “the Pebble Beach of the East.”

Over 10 years later, however, it is respected for its innovative beauty. Measuring 5,208 square feet (plus 742 square feet of outdoor porch and decks), its three 49-foot gabled pavilions are shaded behind a majestic 125-year-old live oak. Even though it is crisply framed by Sheila Werteimer’s orderly stepped hedges, imparting a stateliness to the façade, “It was a house designed for a family first and foremost,” says Braithwaite. Featured in her 2014 book, Simplicity (Rizzoli), the home’s impressive exterior belies the relaxed warmth and accessibility of the interiors, which become immediately apparent as one passes through the 5-foot wide, 11-foot-tall pivoting plate-glass front door.

Despite the soaring ceilings—24 feet on the second floor—the rooms are not sprawling. Rather, they feel intimate and cozy, which was Braithwaite’s goal. The whole house is a unified composition, limited to a soothing palette of organic colors and natural materials throughout. “If rooms were different colors,” she observes, “it would have segmented the house and taken away from the peacefulness.” Black, white, sandy ochre, and smoky gray take turns dominating individual rooms. Mahogany and Black Mountain stone floors quarried in India, a black honed granite kitchen island, and limestone-lined baths in the five-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath residence all feel substantial and grounding.

The furnishings, which can be purchased separately, are generously scaled and feature minimalist lighting by Kevin Reilly, rope-wrapped pieces specially commissioned from the great Christian Astuguevielle, and artworks and installations by, among others, Robert Kuo, Bud Galland, and famed sweetgrass basket maker Mary Jackson.

The house faces a tidal marsh out front and, beyond the cantilevered saltwater pool, panoramic ocean views out back. Between the house and the beach is Pete and Alice Dye’s Ocean Course, which means the house has front-row seats for the 2021 PGA Championship. Golf, of course—aside from the wild natural landscape, bobcats, alligators, and bald eagles—is arguably the island’s major attraction. Providentially, an exclusive Kiawah Island Club golf membership is available with the purchase of this home. It provides access to two other highly coveted golf experiences. The River Course, designed by Tom Fazio in 1995, is the most challenging course on the island. Running along the Kiawah River, it has tree-lined fairways, marshes, billy bunkers, and ponds. More of a classic links course, the Cassique Course, designed by Tom Watson, opened in 2000. The Kiawah Island Club is slowly replacing its bunkers with stacked-sod versions that impart a sculptural presence on the land. And last year, the Club erected a remarkable state-of-the-art learning center at the north end of the driving range.

The Kiawah Island Club, of course, includes many other amenities, such as the 10,000-square-foot Clodagh-designed Sasanqua Spa, various clubhouses and restaurants, and a sports pavilion. (Memberships have an initiation deposit of $135,000.)

The home is listed for $6.9 million, and the furniture is for sale at an additional cost.

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