Perfection was the benchmark set for this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home located on nearby Kiawah Island by the owners who desired that their custom home be as true to the architectural master's genius as possible.
The 30-foot fireplace "chimney" that serves as the focal point for this residence's living and dining rooms also contains an elevator that provides access to the home's four floors. At 12 1/2 inches, the bricks used to create the chimney are longer than those conventionally used for residential construction, giving it a distinctly horizontal feel.
Builder Dan Buffington will tell you that achieving perfection remains an elusive goal in residential construction, even on the ultra-high-end projects that he and his wife and business partner, Cathy, build in and around Charleston, S.C. Nonetheless, perfection was the benchmark set for this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home located on nearby Kiawah Island by the owners who desired that their custom home be as true to the architectural master's genius as possible.
"We had never built this type of home before," says Buffington, "but were intrigued by the challenges that it presented. Our clients were so well-versed in the Wright style that they knew exactly what they wanted. They even lent us books to help us better understand what they wanted."
The 6,558-square-foot home features wood and art-glass detailing on ceilings, walls and cabinetry, as well as multiple built-ins. While the clean, straight lines of the white oak trim used throughout the home appear deceptively simple, Buffington says the effort required to achieve this effect was monumental.
"Typically, custom trim work helps disguise the minor flaws associated with drywall," Buffington says. "For example, drywall is not really flat, especially on its edges, so we re-skimmed the walls to make sure they were perfectly flat and smooth. We had to get it exactly, or the razor straight lines of the trim would exaggerate any flaws, making them much more noticeable."
Rather than having doors mark the transition between living spaces, a horizontal band of molding, dropped down 3 feet from the ceiling, spans these openings. Wood trim also provides distinctive ceiling detailing, including a box that frames an art glass reproduction of Wright's well-known "Tree of Lift" pattern above the dining room table. The table and chairs, custom-crafted for this home, were inspired by original Wright designs from a home in Springfield, Ill.
Even the massive 30-foot-tall brick fireplace, which serves as the hub around which the living spaces radiate, received the same painstaking attention. Special industrial-type bricks (from Nebraska), which are longer than those typically used for residential construction, contribute to the fireplace's linear appearance.
"Every corner had to be a perfect right angle," says Buffington. "We positioned every brick to be exactly symmetrical with its neighboring ones so that every line was 100% straight." In addition, the horizontal joints between the bricks were raked, while the vertical ones were filled so they were flush with the bricks themselves, further accentuating the horizontality of the brickwork.
The home was completed in March 2003.
Style of Home | Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired
Location | Kiawah Island, S.C.
Total Square Footage | 6,558
Estimated Market Value | $10 million
Builder | Buffington Homes, Seabrook Island, S.C.
Architect | Spivey & Woods Architects, Charleston, S.C.
Major Products Used | Windows & Doors: Marvin Windows and Doors | Home Controls & Automation: Vantage Controls Inc. | Lighting: Lightolier (recessed cans); Arroyo Craftsman (mounted lights)
Photography by I. Wilson Baker