Having port-hopped through Europe on a sailboat, Steve and Susan Herlong have a love of lighthouses. When the couple bought property on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, they researched local light stations. “We were charmed by images of the first wooden lighthouse on the island; sadly, it was lost to a hurricane in the 1800s,” Steve says. “We incorporated its design into our house.”
To satisfy strict codes that limit the size/footprint of houses and mandate that new construction look “compatible” with existing houses, Steve reserved the bolder design choices for this 4,200-square-foot house, like the lighthouse tower, for its waterfront side. He elevated the four bedrooms/four and a half baths to the second story, and kitchen and living space to the third, above the flood zone.
What you see: floor-to-ceiling vistas of the Lowcountry marshes lining the Intracoastal Waterway
What you don’t see: view-obscuring railings. Metal cables run horizontally between the posts for safety and a sleek nautical detail without blocking the seascape. The Herlongs called on a friend who rigs sailboats for the job. Highlight of the house: saying goodnight to the sun from three stories up. The octagonal porch becomes the perfect perch for taking in the sunset at happy hour.
What you see: an outdoor living room enclosed by the house’s structural supports, which the Herlongs covered in marsh-mud-color stucco and crushed oyster shells
What you don’t see: the reinforced masonry piers underneath their decorative casing and other structural steel elements used throughout the house’s construction in an effort to spare it from the same fate as the historic lighthouse that inspired its design Everyone loves: the shady spot under the house, complete with outdoor fireplace for cool nights when the sound of the surf is too enticing to stay inside.
What you see: a cypress, V-groove, barrel-vaulted ceiling inspired by the shape of a boat hull
What you don’t see: closed-cell spray foam insulation wrapping the entire exterior and attic space. It regulated the temperature inside the house by absorbing cool air in winter and warm air in summer.
What you see: walls clad with cedar-shake shingles and a rough-hewn cedar ceiling painted a nautical blue-and-white scheme, all to create the look of a seaside porch inside
What you don’t see: improved indoor air quality, resulting from the release of fewer potentially harmful gasses from the low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint used in the house
What you see: a light- and breeze-filled space, thanks to a pair of large, high-impact-resistant casement windows. Reclaimed wood countertops and a tumbled travertine tile backsplash add natural warmth to the space.
What you don’t see: the double-duty cooling effects from the roof overhead. Made of light-colored steel, the covering reflects the sun’s heat and extends about 2 feet beyond the house’s wall, creating ample shade for the windows below.