A Retreat For All Seasons

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Space is prized on a small, trust-managed island between Beaufort and Hilton Head, where a couple of legal eagles have staked their claim.  Judy Bean sneaks a peek. Photography by Richard Leo Johnson.

Cindy Van Horne and Lee Spinks, partners in life as well as law, were seeking some place to relax and regroup away from their hectic schedules in Charlotte, N.C.  Drawn to the South Carolina Lowcountry for both its proximity and its scenery—which seemed worlds away from the city skyline they saw daily—the couple began their search near Charleston, then headed south.  Their exploration ended the moment they drove onto Spring Island, where they “fell in love immediately.”

“It truly felt more like a park than a residential community,” Cindy recalls.

That’s part of the long-term plan for the 3,000-acre island—a nature preserve and arts colony where residential development is capped at no more than 410 houses.  The road to Cindy and Lee’s home runs past tabby ruins as well as inhabited homes, but the latter are mostly hidden by long, winding driveways.  Even roadside mailboxes are forbidden by local codes, which seek to keep the landscape as unaltered as possible.

Some of Spring Island’s strict requirements proved challenging for the couple as they sought to create their dream retreat.  For instance, although neighborhood requirements encouraged square building footprints, a protected, 40-foot live oak stood in the way on the Spinks/Van Horne site.  To protect the tree and promote the couple’s vision, Bluffton-based architect Tom Hiatt drafted a house plan based on clustered rectangles that made room for the ancient tree and the shingle-style cottage that Cindy envisioned.

The Spinks/Van Horne Stats »

Owners:  Lee Spinks and Cindy Van Horne

Year built:  2009

Square footage:  2,700 heated, 800 on covered porches

Number of bedrooms and baths:  4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths

Fortunately, patience and perseverance paid off.  Today, the shingle-clad structure with board-and-batten shutters sits at the end of a shell-strewn driveway, looking out over the 10th tee of the island’s Old Tabby Links golf course.  Natural light floods the two-story, high-ceilinged interior, which showcases an eclectic mix of furniture styles in beckoning textures—from rich, warm leathers to sumptuous, come-hither velvets—and abundant objets d’art acquired on the couple’s world travels.

“We love it, love it, love it here,” Cindy declares.  “We want to retire on this island.” And even though the couple already spends as many as 100 days a year at their oasis, she notes, “It’s always a little sad when we have to drive away.”

Cozy up.  Vast great rooms with high ceilings can appear imposing.  Cindy and designer Lisa Hose encouraged a more intimate impression with a soft, warm palette of neutrals, supple textures and natural imagery.  A bird-patterned tapestry pillow, Cindy’s first purchase for the home, inspired her color choices.

Focus on fun.  The game table hints at Cindy and Lee’s entertaining style: small gatherings of close friends and family.  The stone-topped table hosts cozy meals and lively games of Spades and Scrabble.  The large screened porch in the background looks out over the golf course.

Make light.  Soft taupe walls and cream-colored stone pavers soothe the spirits of the homeowners and their guests.  The transoms that crown the interior doors ensure that the Carolina sunlight streaming in through the generous windows continues to flow from room to room.

Cook together.  Cindy, who loves to cook, enjoys it even more when her guests keep her company.  Soft seating beside the granite-topped island keeps guests extra-comfortable as Cindy whips up new dishes in her gourmet kitchen.  The range hood is custom-made of poured concrete.

Live it up.  As is typical of shingle-style dwellings, this home’s steeply pitched roof allows for spectacular ceiling heights.  Cindy’s young nieces, Sophia and Isabella, usually share the room tucked into the gable. Lee and Cindy made the upholstered headboards themselves.  The French doors lead to a balcony shared by the chocolate-brown guest bedroom.

Love luxe.  The “upstairs master,” as Cindy calls it, was designed because she didn’t want guests to feel relegated to “secondary rooms.”  Inspired by a magazine photo she saw decades ago, Cindy makes sure everywhere she lives has a chocolate-brown room with white trim.

The Spinks/Van Horne Referrals »

Architects/planners: Thomas L. Hiatt Architects, Bluffton, S.C.

Interior designer: Lisa Hose and Cindy Van Horne

Contractor/builder: Mark Longworth, Classic Custom Homes

Tile/flooring: Peacock Pavers, sourced online by homeowners, and Brazilian cherry planks from Wall Solutions, Okatie

Paint/wallpaper: Rudas Drywall and Painting, Bluffton

Interior stucco: Wall Solutions, Okatie

Windows/doors: Norco by Jeldwin from Espy Lumber

Kitchen design: Lisa Hose and Cindy Van Horne

Custom range hood and mantel: Wall Solutions

Bath design: Lisa Hose and Cindy Van Horne

Lighting design: Lisa Hose and Cindy Van Horne

Landscape/hardscape design: Thomas L. Hiatt Architects

Electrician: Scott Electric Contractors, Bluffton

Carpenter:  Andy Glasser

Plumber: All-American Plumbing, Bluffton

Landscaper: Southern Palmetto Landscape, Ridgeland

HVAC: Brower Heating & Air, Bluffton

Furniture: Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, Ferguson-Copeland, Lee Industries

Accessories: High Point Furniture Market

Art: Gerald Melbrooke Gallery and Hidell Brooks Gallery, Charlotte, N.C.; Van Thiel Imports, High Point; owners’ travel acquisitions from Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa