The artwork is Lighthouse Face
by Atlanta artist Sally King Benedict
Cool, colorful, and brimming with design inspiration: this year’s IDEA HOUSE sits along the romantic, oak-canopied banks of HABERSHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA, where interior designer JENNY KEENAN and architectural designer ERIC MOSER put a spirited spin on centuries-old traditions
THERE’S WISDOM IN THE WALLS and woodwork of old cottages, says architectural designer Eric Moser. “I tend to think that the simpler a structure is, the more beautiful.”
So it’s little wonder that Moser drew inspiration for this year’s Idea House from the modest, historic cottages that have dotted the marshy South Carolina coast for centuries. “Even though our lives are much different now, these older design principles—ideas like using front and rear porches to help cool a house naturally and leaving bare the raw beauty of natural wood—remain at the core of how we design today,” he says.
But old doesn’t have to mean oldschool. Both Moser and interior designer Jenny Keenan had plenty of modern updates in mind. For instance, at 2,915 square feet, the marshfront cottage in the community of Habersham (about eight miles west of downtown Beaufort) is larger than the original bungalows. To give the vernacular style more breathing room, Moser designed the home as two small cottages with a sunny connecting hall. On the inside, Keenan took a vibrant approach to color and art. “I wanted to show how you can take a traditional cottage and really energize it for today, but still keep it warm and familiar,” she says.
And behind every design decision were the views. The home’s narrow lot slopes down to the banks of the marsh and overlooks the Broad River in the distance. “More than half of Beaufort County is marsh and estuaries,” says builder Allen Patterson, who grew up along the same shoreline. “That’s what is so special here. The tide going in and out, the changing colors, the unique ecosystem—we wanted to incorporate these elements as much as we could.”
Here, more on how the talented team modernized this classic cottage while maintaining a deep connection to its architectural roots and watery setting.
White lap siding, a gabled metal roof, and a street-facing porch are all hallmarks of traditional Lowcountry cottages. The French doors and doublehung windows are by Marvin, the porch decking and railings are by AZEK, and the siding and trim are by James Hardie. The pavers are by Belgard. The lighting is by Carolina Lanterns; the furniture is by Lloyd Flanders.