Every now and then a meeting of desirable attributes happens all on one plot of land. Such was the case for homeowners in Townville, S.C., and their Hartwell Lake property. The site boasted four sought-after and unique features: flat, close to water, clear to the water and great views. That quadfecta, however, came with the difficulty of the lot being a wedge-shaped peninsula.
Donald G. Chapman, AIA, NCARB, CMB, president and founder of Chapman Design Group Inc., Anderson, S.C., took on the challenge and planned the remodel in a way to capitalize on the property’s features and ensure a lake view from every room of the home.
The clients had a home on a different site on the same lake, but a small tornado resulted in a tree falling on the home, crushing a portion of it, Chapman says. Just before meeting with Chapman about renovating that home, the house burned down from an electrical issue from the fallen tree. It was on a site not as desirable as others, however, and Chapman’s wife, a real estate agent, worked with the clients to find a new piece of property. This is when the wedge-shaped property with views came into play.
“At first, we met with the client to design a renovation with a small addition,” Chapman remembers. “After the design was complete, they came back to me and wanted to know what I would do if I had started from scratch.
“It’s a unique opportunity on this lake to have a flat piece of property that is clear to the water with the type of views this house has,” Chapman continues. “That was the exciting part.”
The new plan included demolishing about 1,400 sq. ft. of existing structure to make way for a 2,801-sq.-ft. addition, and renovating the existing guest house structure that was grandfathered in despite going beyond the current setbacks. Chapman also would connect the guest quarters to the addition.
For the addition, a surveyor pinned the location where the footings in the addition would sit to ensure they were up to the edge of the setback; this optimized available space while ensuring the structure laid within the guidelines.
Hartwell Lake is a man-made lake with about 1,000 miles of shoreline and a water elevation of 660 ft. The Corps of Engineers manages the lake and dictates the setbacks based on a property’s elevation; some properties are set back much farther from the lake and some are quite close, Chapman explains.
“The site was very narrow and trying to maintain and renovate the existing portion of the home, yet giving them something new they were looking for while trying to stay within the setbacks and maximize the views, was challenging,” Chapman says. “The client was very open to us sharing ideas and details that would allow that to occur. I do my best to try to understand what the personality of the home needs to be to reflect the clients’ personality and character.”
The owner’s goals included an open floor plan with natural light and great views, master bedroom privacy, a fully functioning guest suite, an art studio for her, a study for him and a screened porch with a large deck.
Chapman Design Group’s motto is “Every home should have what we all have within us … individual character.” Part of this house’s character is defined by its staggered design approach. The reasoning behind this design decision was twofold: It maximized the lake views from each room and also fit well within the difficult property shape. “When we design homes on a site with good views, if we do the staggered approach we get views out of two sides of the room as opposed to just one flat elevation out the end,” Chapman explains. “We also were trying to get them farther out onto the point of the property, which is when we decided to add octagon deck on the very end.” The 20- by 20-ft. deck provides approximately 250 degrees of visibility.
Both owners wanted to maximize the glass, thereby introducing more natural light and offering more views. The husband, a recently retired professional, had occupied an office with many windows and liked to see outside. “We created his office on the upper level, and it has the main view going out the end of the house,” Chapman says. That area of window is designed in a six-piece diamond pattern, which is repeated on three sides of the home and, on a smaller scale, on the front door.
South Carolina’s hot summer temperatures meant heat control became a consideration for this southeastern exposure house. The living room area is accessed by a set of doors Chapman recessed by about 5 ft. so they’re
under cover. “The rest of the glass in the living and dining room is under a screen porch,” he says. “We used Andersen’s E-series windows and doors with special glass and then put a Vista film on the inside to reduce reflection. They also have automated solar shades on all of the lower windows that can be opened or closed a quarter or halfway, which helps maintain the view while offering more sun protection.”
A glass cabinet in the dining area pays tribute to the owner’s glass sculpting experience. “We created a built-in china cabinet that has glass in front of it, but you access it from the sides,” Chapman explains. “There’s a window behind it, which is how you see through the cabinet. We didn’t want a piece of furniture in front of the view.”
The guest quarters have its own entry and can be locked off when not in use. The suite features a private living area, bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette and a bunk room for the grandchildren.
Creating a covered, yet inviting and visually appealing entry to provide covered access into the home during inclement weather was another challenge. The least desirable side of the property with the most limited views became the single-vehicle carport site, which then was combined with the front entry of the home. Natural stone piers and stone pathways are accentuated by a custom mahogany front doorway, which features the repeating diamond window pattern.
The mahogany and stone also fulfilled the owner’s request to develop an exterior style using stone, fiber cement lap and shake siding, windows and doors — all of which they felt would capture their personal style of lake living. The fiber cement is in a deep blue color, complemented by cream trim to accent the window and gable details.