It’s All About the View

Two Hilton Head homes where you can soak in the scenery

By Todd Money
Photographs provided

The windswept beaches of Hilton Head Island, situated in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, have made the area a staple of family vacations for decades. Chances are, if the ample sunshine and opportunities for outdoor play beckon you to the island, Hilton Head’s low-stress lifestyle, peaceful waterways, and nods toward conservation (along with that classic Spanish moss) will persuade you to extend your time here.

For most visitors, taking in the surrounding view is an engrained part of arriving at any new destination — and the source of many a lasting impression. On an island with a number of standout vacation spots, we decided to highlight two whose views — inside and out — set them apart.

18 Brigantine, Palmetto Dunes
Hilton Head Island

This 5,253-square-foot oceanfront rental home sits in Palmetto Dunes Plantation, near the island’s midway point. Built in 1989 and renovated in 2015, the home, which has five bedrooms and five bathrooms, can accommodate up to 15 people.

Lush, green vegetation nestles this three-level home, whose backyard features a swimming pool and a horseshoe-shaped hot tub with a waterfall feature. A boardwalk leads visitors from the backyard to a private beach entrance.

As they shepherded the recent renovation, owners Rob and Nancy Gagnon said they were going for one quality: chic, but comfortable. Or maybe it was “contemporary,” Nancy interjected. Whatever the word used, though, the results — an expansive deck, a “reverse living” layout that puts living and dining space on the top floor, oversized windows — make for sprawling views of the nearby oceanfront and the natural charms of the region.

“We loved the bones of the house,” Rob said, noting that the backyard and the unobstructed views of the ocean helped sell the couple on the home’s potential.

The living room with a transparent fireplace features banks of windows that open to ocean views.

Those views are apparent, whether you’re entering the 40-foot-by-14-foot swimming pool downstairs or prepping food around the quartz island inside the third-floor, open-concept kitchen. In fact, the entire third floor, with its vaulted 18-foot ceilings, offers views of the shore.

The second floor, with its four bedrooms, gives wandering eyes plenty to gaze at, too, with its floor-to-ceiling windows giving remarkable views of the ocean and the large trees that dot the property.

On the first floor, visitors to the poolroom can step outside and find palm trees, pampas grass, and a covered patio with a gas grill — if they’re not already sprinting for that temperature-controlled saltwater pool or the nearby beach, of course.

As “serial renovators,” a title the Gagnons happily aspire to, what elements of the house became their favorites as they updated the structure, which once hosted a certain first couple with the surname Clinton?

“The deck is incredible,” Nancy said of the newly installed, 500-square-foot travertine structure on the home’s third level. Rob prefers the 10-foot, statement-making, quartz ledgestone fireplace that separates the third-floor living area from the reading nook, but he’s also proud of the bar just off that living area that’s not exactly locally sourced. It was built from a piece of walnut specially brought in from a mill in the Midwest — a unique addition to a Lowcountry mainstay.

The home’s interior features a lot of glass that creates a light and comfortable living space.

The house at 18 Brigantine rents for $8,500 to $17,000 per week in the summer, according to rental company Beach Properties of Hilton Head.

8 Gadwall, Sea Pines
Hilton Head Island

Located in luxurious Sea Pines Resort on the island’s south end, this 4,842-square-foot rental home built in 2015 features seven bedrooms, seven full and one half bathrooms, and can house up to 18 guests.

Tall pines and palmettos provide the backdrop for the two-story structure, which has a backyard pool along with a garage. The pool includes a spa with a separate sitting pool and waterfall feature; the garage is essentially a game room with its full-size pool table, Ping-Pong table and shuffleboard. If tennis is more your thing, the nearby South Beach Racquet Club is available daily.

The home has solar heating and air.

The home’s builder, Hugh Hobus, said the location of the pool, a holdover feature after the previous house on the property was torn down, proved a valuable incentive for its new owners.

“We were able to keep the pool pushed out toward the beach area, the dunes area, by not tearing it down,” he said.

It’s this spot where nature and technology combine to form one of the property’s most picturesque settings, with the mostly rectangular pool and large deck leading to a brief wooded area, and then to lovely sand dunes and a pristine white beach. Hobus estimated the house sits a mere 230 to 240 yards from the water, with the dunes providing a gateway of natural vegetation.

Inside the home, it’s clear that Hobus and his team expended plenty of effort in trying to bring the oceanfront’s natural beauty indoors.

Along with its large great room, the first floor has a fully furnished outdoor living space with a grilling area, an outdoor fireplace and ocean views. The second floor features five bedrooms; three of these are part of an extensive balcony providing ocean views.

Expansive porches bring the home’s total space to about 10,500 square feet, Hobus said.

When asked what it is that renters are looking for in a vacation spot, Hobus said visuals take precedent.

“Obviously you want to take advantage of looking out to the dunes and then right out at the ocean, so it’s very important how you angle the house and how you position windows,” he said. “We try to give every room a view, from the kitchen to a master bedroom, to downstairs bedrooms.”

8 Gadwall rents for $12,000-$16,000 a week in the summer months, Hobus said.

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