Coastal Splendor

Taking Columbia to the Lowcountry

By Melissa Andrews

Robert Clark

This past September, as Hurricane Matthew barreled its way toward the coast, Debbie and Bob Spratlin sat on the deck of their Edisto Island home enjoying the breathtaking view of the creek. In mere days, the view would be completely different. 

What was once a yard filled with massive water oaks soon became an austere area bearing the scars of the powerful storm. Perhaps they were some of the lucky ones, as one of their neighbors lost a total of 16 trees. Mercifully, the trees fell away from the homes. But the great loss is still felt on the island. “This section of the island was devastated,” says Debbie. “It took months to clean up, lawns were destroyed, and so many old trees were lost. You can’t just go replace trees like that. It will take decades for them to grow back.”

The Spratlins and their neighbors are just now getting back to a sense of normalc–y –– the yards have been cleaned, the debris removed, but the ennui over the lost trees remains. Bob quickly replaced the precious oaks by planting new ones. While their grandeur will pale in comparison to those trees that were lost, they are signs of the resilience that Edisto Island displayed during the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

It was only three years ago that Debbie and Bob decided to build their home on “The Neck,” as it is known, of Edisto Island. They previously owned a home on Lybrand Street closer to the beach. While it was a beautiful residence, to Debbie it was a beach house and not the home she envisioned long term for her, Bob, and their family. “We knew we wanted to retire down here, and we wanted to be on deep water,” she says. “This place feels like home. It is our home. It really is like a little neighborhood back here on the creek.”

The expansive two-story residence boasts four bedrooms, ideal for visits from their grandchildren, who, at 16 and 13, still love to stay with their grandparents during their vacations. Debbie and Bob primarily live on the main level where the master is located, allowing visitors free rein of the upstairs, which features three bedrooms and a large gathering area. While Debbie is a permanent resident of the home, Bob goes back and forth from Columbia, generally leaving on Monday and coming home for the weekend. When he officially retires, he too will be a permanent resident, enjoying the day-to-day beauty that the island has to offer. Having lived in the home for two years, Debbie was quick to get involved in activities on the island, ensuring she stays busy even during her retirement. 

Because Debbie enjoys entertaining, she made the kitchen the heart of her home. She added a large bar in the center of the space and designed it so that it is not only very livable, but also homey and welcoming. Off the kitchen is the dining room, with unique coloring and design; Debbie suggested that Kristen Bunting, a designer from Mount Pleasant, paint the ceiling a rich red, marbleizing effect to create an added interest to the space. While the majority of the home has a neutral tone, the dining room looks more like a Charleston home with its yellow-gold walls and bold red ceiling. She carried that distinctive look to the half bathroom as well, having the walls stenciled and painted to create an appearance akin to leather.

As a self-proclaimed “blue and white person,” Debbie has a variety of accessories in those classic colors that she has collected over the years and used in her former home in Columbia. Each of the pieces is special and makes a distinct statement, and as Debbie had no intention of getting rid of them, they have now been placed around her home on Edisto. Debbie and Bob are particularly fond of pieces from One Eared Cow in Columbia and have collected many pieces from the glass shop. Before moving to Edisto, Bob gave Debbie a blue glass bowl that had an oyster shell design — an ideal piece for their new home in the Lowcountry.

When they began the planning and design of their home, Debbie’s goal was for it to look like a traditional home and not a beach house. She knew she wanted to bring all of her furniture from Columbia, and while that made the house a bit more formal, she was not willing to part with the special pieces as she moved to her new home. Over time, she added new art to the space, but she purposefully held off on placing any artwork over her mantle, as she was waiting to find the perfect piece. 

Coincidentally, her former neighbor, artist Doug Grier, creates paintings of their shared view of the marsh using photographs he takes. Debbie now has two of Doug’s paintings, one in the esteemed location over the mantle and another featured in the kitchen. 

While the Spratlin home has an attractive interior, it was the location on the water that drew them to this spot. “Our view is beautiful; it’s really unbelievable,” says Debbie. “On the second floor we can see the marsh all the way across the island. Most people can’t believe the view we have. From the master bedroom, the living room and the den, every vantage point out of the windows is of the calming water. I get to see the most gorgeous sunrise every day.” 

Due in large part to the remarkable view, Debbie and Bob spend much of their time in the den/sunroom. The furniture is covered in Sunbrella® fabric, ensuring the water from the creek and the ocean do not damage it. Living on the creek, they do not have to fight the sand quite as much as they did when their home was closer to the ocean. 

Out on the deck, which is another favorite spot, comfortable Adirondack chairs dot the area, ensuring plenty of room for visitors to enjoy the spectacular views from the back of the home. From watching the boats journey up and down the creek to observing the eagles that soar overhead, the Spratlins enjoy their home as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world. 

While Debbie and Bob occasionally go to the beach, their favorite place to be is on the water of the creek, drifting amongst the dolphins that so often glance out of the water to greet their guests. “We love being on the boat,” says Debbie. “The experience of living here — that was what we wanted all along.” 

Edisto Island brings with it a sense of peace and tranquility. One drive under the cypress trees onto the island and the blood pressure seemingly drops automatically. For the Spratlins, this is now a daily way of life  a life earned through hard work and now to be enjoyed in retirement. While the old trees may have been lost, the character of the island remains steadfast and, with it, new trees that will one day stand just as tall. 

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