A Twist on Tradition

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Bayou-inspired charm on Palmetto Bluff

It was the ease of driving through the Lowcountry’s moss-laden trees that attracted Doug and Joni Schmidt to settle down here.

They were taking back roads out of Augusta after a weekend at The Masters Practice Rounds a few years back, when they stumbled upon the vast sea island haven that is Palmetto Bluff.

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Photography by Richard Leo Johnson

“The beauty, the wildlife and all of the things it has to offer really got to me. We saw dolphins going down the May River, alligators in the pond,” Schmidt recalls. “Every stinkin’ bit of wildlife that the bluff had to offer came out to see us that day!”

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Crisp bright whites add a clean tradition to the dining room

Fast-forward to today, where the bluff ’s coastal beauty is present from all angles of the Schmidt’s three-bedroom, three-and- a-half bathroom home, completed in 2018. After purchasing a lot with plenty of greenery, Schmidt scouted architect Pearce Scott to help bring the vision of her dream home to fruition.

Growing up in Louisiana and familiar with New Orleans’ lush Garden District, Schmidt’s nostalgia is present in the gallery-style exterior, decorated with full-length shutters.

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New Orleans style gallery exterior

Schmidt’s desire to keep the interior layout on the traditional side also harks back to the roots of old Southern living. She was attracted to a clear separation of spaces, not unlike those in New Orleans’ shotgun homes.

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Dark floors and light cabinets create a cozy kitchen atmosphere

“To me, there’s something really satisfying about getting a home slowly revealed to you, versus opening the front door and boom, you’ve seen it all,” Schmidt says, noting she and her husband previously lived in (and were tired of living in) open-concept spaces.

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Modern lighting converges with reclaimed wood floors

A continual contrast of modern and traditional converges effortlessly in a simple detail — light fixtures. Tracie Henderson at The Light Post in Bluffton introduced Schmidt to Lowcountry Originals fixtures; now, the brand’s distressed iron-and-copper Vintage Long Bar and Belfair chandeliers make a statement suspended next to crisp white walls.

The home’s reclaimed wooden floors, sourced from a barn by Scott Ziel of Ziel’s Antique Flooring, are another striking element. The panels are in practically original condition, with termite holes still visible under the glossy finish.

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A vaulted ceiling adds an airiness to the master bedroom

Although Schmidt’s vision for the home was strong, she leaned on local creatives who were more than willing to share their expertise. Ashley Avery of Palmetto Cabinet Studio helped balance the cabinet layout in the kitchen and baths, and Leah Bailey of Leah Bailey Interiors shared tips Schmidt hadn’t considered, which helped to elevate the home even further (the two also bonded over paint — specifically, White Dove by Benjamin Moore).

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Herringbone patterned tile creates a contrasting texture with the clapboard wall

“I will always take some of [Leah’s] ideas with me, like the Greek key trim on the curtains,” Schmidt says. “That was the perfect touch.”

With a slew of tasteful details sprinkled about, Schmidt valued the convergence of taste and functionality the most. This ideal is showcased in the “scullery,” or butler’s pantry, which Schmidt believes is the most functional room in the house. While she’s most likely to admire her beloved, free-standing stove from a distance, the scullery’s beverage center, with a microwave and automatic coffee machine, is in constant use.

Still, her deep appreciation for the scullery’s utility is no match for her favorite room in the house: the master suite. “The ceiling is such that even if the room were totally devoid of furniture, it still feels full because the architecture is so beautiful, and the wood walls are so stunning,” Schmidt says.

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A myriad of cool tones adds serenity to the sitting room

Despite the physical inspiration from Schmidt’s beloved Louisiana architecture, the spirit of the home conveys timeless Southern charm, be it on the bayou or on the bluff.

“The house itself has a great feeling about it of warmth and charisma, and that’s the No. 1 thing people say when they come into the house, that it just feels so good,” Schmidt says. “To me, that’s the greatest compliment.”