Isle of Palms Vacation Home

Contemporary Modern Transformed into Coastal Luxury Home

What do you do when you find the perfect location for your dream home, but do not like the house?  You call in the Architects at Swallowtail Architecture.

The story of this home was one where our clients had found their perfect location; just steps from the Atlantic Ocean in Isle of Palms… but the existing house was anything but perfect.  Our clients saw the potential in the home, which was large enough for their needs with a lot that gave them plenty of space to stretch out, but wow the house style and floorplan was not at all what they wanted.  The exterior had hints of a contemporary style beach house, but really it was an undefined structure.  Many people would pass on a house with mustardy, sunny yellow paint, but rather than do that, our clients saw the potential to make this their dream home. It would require significant changes to update this late 1990’s contemporary style beach home into a coastal dream, but we were up for the task.

We began by re-imagining the flow of the home.  We opened up all of the walls on the first floor and created a large open gathering space.  We removed a vaulted ceiling in the family room area so that we could add more living space on the third story.  Specially engineered support beams were required to carry the load of the newly expanded third story.  We reoriented the kitchen layout to create better flow for entertaining.  A large center island, along with custom roof vent hood over the 60 inch range, are the center points of this new chef’s kitchen.  Custom, white cabinets with all the special details including panels for the commercial refrigerator and dishwasher elevate the design for this sophisticated kitchen.  When designing open concept living spaces, it is important for each zone to be differentiated from the others.  This makes the spaces feel grounded, while at once being expansive.  With the dining area seperating the kitchen and family room, we created a bespoke ceiling detail over the large dining table.

The design focused on the views of the Atlantic Ocean.  Where there had once been a two-story, open air, octagonal porch, we squared off and expanded the lower porch and screened it in.  This created an expansive outdoor area just off the main living space.  On the second story, we kept the octagonal porch and roofline, but screened it in and were able to create a deck over the newly expanded lower porch.  We were also able to extend the porch to the rear of the home so that there could be french doors added leading off of the kitchen to the outside.

A squaring off of the odd contemporary rooflines and pitches not only created more space for living, but also allowed for the exterior of the home to be completely transformed.   New windows, and the addition of more windows brought more light in to this once dark home and opened the view of the ocean to many more of the rooms.  The lattice skirting on this elevated home was replaced with a clean line, linear slat boards.  Shake style shingles, special details in the cornices at the roof lines, and stained porch ceilings along with stained wood on the roof eaves make this home a shining example of a 21st century, luxury coastal home.

Image Gallery

Before and After Photo Gallery

Before photo of Isle of Palms home before total renovation by Swallowtail Architecture


After photo of home changed from 1990's contemporary to luxury coastal


Before photo of living room room and dining room before taking down wall to kitchen


Walls removed to create open concept space


Before photo of kitchen


New orientation for kitchen in coastal renovation in Isle of Palms


Before photo of living room with Vaulted ceiling before adding second story


View from the family room through the dining area and into the kitchen


Exterior Transformation

Isle of Palms Architect, Swallowtail Architecture designs total exterior renovation of coastal home
Two story screened porch addition with upper patio

The Exterior Before the Renovation

Before photo of Isle of Palms renovation by Swallowtail Architecture
Before photo of Isle of Palms home before total renovation by Swallowtail Architecture
1990's contemporary beach home before renovation
Architect: Rachel Burton, Swallowtail Architecture
Builder: Vintage Homes
Photography: Tripp Smith (after) and Dunes Properties (before)