River Life

Lowcountry Living— Idealized

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September 2023 Issue
By Elizabeth Skenes Millen
Photography by T.R. Love, T.R. Media World

Amelia Warner had no idea she was manifesting her dream home into
her life each day when she went to work in Raleigh, North Carolina.

She and her husband, Michael Warner, knew they wanted to be in the Lowcountry with access to the river but finding that perfect location seemed to elude them. When they bought a lot in Palmetto Bluff with hopes to build one day, Amelia walked to the bank of the May River and snapped a photo with her phone. The view spoke to her soul so much she had the photo blown up and hung it on the wall across from her desk in her office back in Raleigh. (See photo below.)

As founder and owner of a specialized software company, Amelia’s workdays were fast-paced and often stressful. During particularly trying moments, Amelia would breathe deep and allow her mind to wander into that beautiful image of the May River. Unbeknownst to her, every time she lost herself in this photo, she was staring at Myrtle Island and her future home.

Amelia and Michael were having a normal day until their realtor called and exclaimed he had found their home, and they needed to put an offer in immediately—it did not matter they had not seen the house or the land. With great trust, they threw their offer on the table where three or four other offers hoped for acceptance. By day’s end, the Warners were the happy new owners of one of Myrtle Island’s most scenic and sprawling properties.

The couple’s love of the Lowcountry came from vacationing here as children, even though they had never met. Both their families chose Hilton Head Island as their destination of choice and neither Amelia nor Michael could get the majesty of the Lowcountry out of their hearts. Their new home, which they plan on moving to full time as soon as their oldest daughter finishes high school, is in the perfect location, but it had a heavy Spanish influence, and the Warners longed for an authentic, Lowcountry, easy-living, river home.

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Enter their dream team with Amelia’s imagination as the conductor. They contracted Matt Lyle, a niche specialty builder, to head up the project. He brought in his best-of-the-best to make the Warner’s vision come to fruition. Though it was no easy task, the details in this home are simple, yet stunning, adorned with Southern charm in every direction you gaze. Everything about the home is understated with wow, which aligns with the Southern way in every sense of the culture.

The Warners not only overhauled the inside and out of their home, they also had a few needs that had to remain in the forefront. Michael is wheelchair bound, so making the home accessible and functional for him was of utmost importance. In addition, Amelia and Michael looked to the future of their families’ needs. They were able to purchase the lot next door and build a guest house where Michael’s mother now lives in an equally beautiful, two-bedroom, cozy Southern cottage.

The Warner’s home is proof that dreams can come true. They have found their piece of Bluffton State-of-Mind, where they relish river life and plan on leaving a life-long Lowcountry legacy for generations to come.

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Just a Few of the Unique Features
in the Warner Home:

1) The guest bathroom, situated off the enclosed Carolina room, features special wood walls. The wood originally came from the barn stall of legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The bath mirror is framed with wood from the stall of Triple Crown winner War Admiral. (See above.)

2) A completely new addition to the home, the Carolina room was initially slated to be a large open-air room for hosting large family gatherings and enjoying the outdoors. Deciding it would be a maintenance nightmare, builder Matt Lyle came up with the idea to install large accordion glass doors, that when fully opened nearly reveals the entire backside of the home to the open air. Mechanical retractable screens come out from above to cover the openings, allowing the fresh salty breezes in while keeping mosquitos and such out.

3) Being avid bourbon sippers, the Warners brought an element of Kentucky into the kitchen in the arched entry already there. Matt was able to find used bourbon barrels from Woodford, and a local, master craftsman cut and reshaped each piece to perfectly line the archway. If you look closely near the floor, the barrel bunghole has been preserved and centered in this now architectural masterpiece.

4) The tabby fireplace in the Carolina room was handcrafted by artist D. Pierce Giltner. Not only does he do meticulous, authentic tabby, he is also a painter. The two oystermen paintings on the left of the fireplace are his works. Most of the oyster shells used in creating this fireplace are from Bluffton Oyster Factory.

5) Nothing exudes Southern charm like a porch swing, even if it’s actually inside your home. This oversized porch swing is a Carolina room favorite, adding a whimsical element of comfort and coziness for lazy afternoons with a glass of sweet tea and a good book. Can’t you feel its welcoming call to “come sit a spell?"

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