Rooftop Solar in South Carolina

The state legislature passed a bill this week that signals a win for rooftop solar in South Carolina! It's called the SC Energy Freedom Act. The bill will allow the expansion of the solar market, both large scale and for residential installations.

Solar panels on custom spring island house
This house on Spring Island has a 10.50 kW solar array

In 2014, a state law passed that made South Carolina a viable market for solar power by enacting tax credits and net-metering requirements. To appease the power companies, the 2014 law included restrictions (or caps) on the amount of rooftop solar allowed in the service areas of SCE&G (now Dominion Energy) & Duke Power. These caps were reached this Spring. Without the bill that passed this week, the solar market would have collapsed in SC because net-metering would no longer have the same benefits.

What is Net-metering?

Net-metering is the process by which a home with rooftop solar sells excess energy to the utility company, and draws energy from the grid when the solar system is not producing energy (like at night). The customer will always have electricity, provided the grid is functioning properly. The new legislation requires that the utility companies buy power from customers producing excess energy at the same rate that they sell to consumers.

What about battery storage for solar energy?

Batteries like the Tesla Powerwall can be connected to solar panels to store excess energy. At times when the solar panels are not producing energy, the consumer can tap into the energy stored in the battery. These batteries are really cool, but they may not be practical for the average consumer. They are expensive and one battery probably does not have the capacity to power a whole house. The technology is rapidly advancing, and battery backup may soon be a more practical option. We have a number of clients who have installed solar connected batteries in order to keep essential appliances and lights on in the event of power failure. In our hurricane prone area, I think this approach is smart. Often, the days following a major storm are sunny, but it may take utility companies days to weeks to restore power. A house with a solar array + battery would be sitting pretty!

Two Tesla Powerwall2 batteries at a recent project
Two Tesla Powerwall2 batteries at a recent project

Net-metering is an essential piece of the growth of solar power in South Carolina. I congratulate the legislators that championed this bill. Alternative, renewable energy will continue to be a sound choice for South Carolinian's; both for our wallets and for our environment!


Bathroom Trends 2019

Accessibility

The American Institute of Architects’ most recent home design research focused on bathroom trends. The findings report that 62% of new and remodeled projects have larger showers that are designed for easy accessibility. This includes a shower seat, a curbless entrance and grab bars. As a result, manufacturers are responding to the increase in the demand for grab bars with great looking options. Standalone showers without a separate bathtub continue to increase in popularity. Homeowners are only installing bathtubs as a personal choice and not in response to future resale.

 

Luxury curbless shower with mosaic tile
Here is a large curbless shower in a recent project with a seamless transition from bathroom to shower.

Technology in the bathroom??

When shopping for plumbing fixtures it appears that smart toilets are the wave of the future. But the research shows that the demand is not there. Only 13% of respondents reported an increase in requests for these easy cleaning, one-piece toilets with heated seats, Bluetooth technology and foot-warmers. I am certain that the high price tag is reason enough for the low demand. The list price of Kohler’s top of the line smart toilet is eight thousand dollars (Kohler Numi)!

Design Styles

The web based company Houzz.com also conducts consumer research and reports that contemporary design is the most popular style for bathrooms followed by transitional design. Over 60 % of homeowners match the finishes of the faucets, hardware, bath accessories and light fixtures. Brushed or satin nickel are the most popular, followed by polished chrome. Oil-rubbed bronze is losing popularity and might soon join avocado appliances in the graveyard of dated finishes. Since 2016 the specification of oil-rubbed bronze finishes has dropped by 40%.

In master bathrooms, double under-mount sinks continue reign supreme. Houzz reports that vessel sinks popularity grew 50% since 2016. This is not consistent with our clients who find vessel sinks difficult to use and clean around.

Master bathroom with undermount sinks and custom walnut cabinetry
Undermount sinks for bathrooms and kitchens remain very popular for a sleek look and easy cleaning.

Tile Trends

Tile shapes and patterns are making strong appearances with hexagons, large-format shapes, mosaics (like the gorgeous mosaic in the photo of the first shower), herringbones, and chevron patterns. Full accent walls of decorative tiles that spill down on the shower floor are replacing horizontal strips of deco tiles.

Decorative tiled wall makes a luxurious statement in this master bath
The curved, tiled wall makes a statement and separates the walk-in shower from the tub

Finally, LED back-lit mirrors are all the rage in contemporary bathrooms.  They provide the perfect light for applying makeup or shaving. The mirrors are anti-fog and easily cleaned.

Bathrooms can be a great place to make a design statement, and while I've titled this post bathroom trends, these design elements have staying power.

You may enjoy our previous post on the hottest trends in kitchen design too!


Sketch to site- Spring Island

It's always really exciting to watch our designs come to life. Here are a few elevation watercolors from way back at the schematic design phase of this Spring Island house, paired with photos during construction. See the house from sketch to site!

Exterior

 

front entry Spring Island Architecture

A unique and gracious entry, well executed by Esposito Construction.

Spring Island front entry

FoyerCustom stair, lowcountry SPring ISland Architecture

custom stair lowcountry architecureWe used "Subway Stone" from Lowountry Pavers for the foyer floor and in various hardscape applications. We love the unique shape of the pavers!
kitchen concept, lowcountry Spring Island architecture
Custom Kitchen, Spring Island South Carolina

 


On the boards with House in Colleton River Club

Here are preliminary design sketches of a new house in Colleton River Club in Bluffton, South Carolina. The owners requested zen-like spaces with lots of natural light and good airflow.We begin every project with an analysis of the site and a site plan. It is critical to correctly place the house to take advantage of prevailing breezes, sun angles and the views. The sun path diagram allows us to consider the sun angles at different times of the year.

Site Plan colleton river houseElevation colleton river

 

interior elevation

 

Interior View

 


Under Construction in Beaufort SC

Our services include construction administration, which is essential for the success of our projects. We visit the job sites regularly to ensure that the house is being built as drawn, and to address any issues or questions that invariably arise during the construction process. We welcome abundant questions from the contractors and our clients during the construction phase. The more we communicate, the better the outcome. Here are some recent photos taken during these site visits in our projects under construction in and around Beaufort, SC.

Spring Island

The details are coming together beautifully on the Spring Island house. I am loving that Skyfall Quartzite countertop! So pretty! See more of this house: Sketch to site- Spring Island 

and here Under Construction- October Update

 

Factory Creek House

The view from this house is incredible. It sits on a bluff over Factory Creek, with a west facing view over the Beaufort River and downtown Beaufort, SC. There will be some spectacular sunset watching going on in this great room!

Long Cove Renovation

The outdoor living areas at this house are fantastic! Can't you just imagine gathering with friends around the outdoor fireplace on a chilly evening or soaking in some of the first warm weather days of the Spring?

 

St. Simons Island, Georgia

There has been lots of progress on the St. Simon's Island house since construction began in November! It's always fun to see the house take shape in the framing phase.

Stay tuned for more construction updates, completed projects and drawings from the boards of Frederick + Frederick!


On the Boards: St. Helena Island Renovation

The latest renovation on the boards is a 1950's ranch on an absolutely gorgeous lot on St Helena Island. The clients love the deep water dock & the extensive view over the Port Royal Sound, but the choppy plan of the house is not very functional. The entry is not well defined, the kitchen is tiny, the rooms are dark and choppy.

Here's the existing plan:

Here's our design solution, in plan view:

 

 

The new plan will allow the owners to enjoy their incredible view from more of the house (including the kitchen, which was not possible before). They will have more outdoor living space, with a screen porch. The main living areas will be much brighter and open to one another. The foyer moves to the middle of the house. The bathrooms and closets are reconfigured to increase functionality.

Here are the elevation drawings:

 

And a Building section of the St. Helena renovation project.

Our clients are excited to move to Beaufort, and we are excited to redesign their house! The renovation will improve the owners ability to enjoy the lowcountry lifestyle and the beautiful view from their house.


Friday Fun

We work hard around here, but every Friday afternoon we like to get a jump start on the weekend and do something enjoyable, creatively dubbed "Friday Fun".

One day, we sketched a flower arrangement and a tiny chair using a series of drawing prompts, like blind drawing, drawing the negative space and "drawing" with wire. It was fun, and a great way to get our creative juices flowing.

lowcountry architects sketch sketching Lowcountry Architects sketching lowcountry architects sketch lowoountry architect

 

We like to take advantage of our location. If the tide is high, we can launch our kayaks and paddleboard from the yard. One day, we brought our fishing poles and threw a couple lines out....we didn't catch much, but we enjoyed being on the water.

Friday Fun Beaufort SC kayakingBeaufort SC paddleboard kayak fishing Beaufort, SC

 

When its chilly outside, we like to play games. Our new favorite is Giant Jenga. Paired with appropriately dramatic music, our jenga games can get pretty intense.

Friday Fun Beaufort Architect Beaufort Architect Lowcountry Beaufort Architect

What should we do for Friday Fun at Frederick + Frederick next?


Under Construction- October Update

The weather has cooled down a bit and activity on these Beaufort County homes is in full swing. We are excited about the progress on these projects under construction in October, it is always a thrill to see our  designs come to life! It will not be long until we have happy, happy owners living in their dream homes!

Factory Creek House #2

This house is looking great with the siding and roofing completed. The electrical rough in is in progress.

Bray's Island Renovation & Addition

This project consists of a major renovation of an existing house, as well as a guest house addition.

They are prepping the main house for interior and exterior paint, as well as finishing up interior trim.

Brays Island guest house addition is in the framing phase.

Factory Creek House #1

The details are coming together beautifully in this house. We love the way the interior stair was executed.

This New Ravenna mosaic tile in the master bath is gorgeous!

Spring Island House

Siding and Roofing installation are in progress at our Spring Island project. Spray foam insulation is complete and the drywall should be hung soon. 

Port Royal Plantation House

This house is looking great with the drywall up! The contractor is beginning to run interior trim and install interior doors.


Cast Your Home in a Flattering Light

Lighting can make a big difference in your home. A stunning chandelier and the perfectly located accent light both add beauty and drama to a space. Residential lighting is best when a variety of light sources provide the necessary illumination for daily activities and complements your lifestyle.

There are five types of lighting that, when layered, provide usable light for day-to-day activities. Remember, all spaces might not need all types of lights.

AMBIENT LIGHTING

This is the gentle, overall lighting for a room. This light fills a room with a warm glow. The nicest ambient light comes from an indirect light source that is bounced off the ceiling. Cove lighting, ceiling-mounted lights, pendants, recessed cans, track lights and wall sconces are fixtures that provide ambient lighting.Ambient lighting

TASK LIGHTING

This is lighting that illuminates the area where you are working or reading. These fixtures include under cabinet lights, recessed lights and portable reading lights.

ACCENT LIGHTING

This type is the dramatic light. These lights highlight works of art, give depth to a room or  wash over interesting textures in your home. Recessed adjustable ceiling fixtures, track lighting and uplights are types commonly used for accent lighting.

task lighting DECORATIVE LIGHTING

I call this type “eye candy.” The main purpose of decorative lighting is to look pretty. Most chandeliers and some wall sconces are for decoration. These fixtures should not be too bright or they will overpower other design elements of the space.

lightingNATURAL DAYLIGHT

This light comes straight from Mother Nature. Windows, light tubes and skylights give great light during the day and can reduce the need for electrical lighting.

natural daylight foyer

I like to incorporate the following lighting scenarios in almost all of my projects.

• In bathrooms, do not place a wall-mounted fixture over the mirror. It will cast harsh shadows and prematurely age you. Instead, use two wall sconces mounted on either side of the mirror. The fixtures should be at eye level, which is generally 5 feet above the finished floor. Tall narrow fixtures accommodate most family members.

bathroom lighting• The traditional design for bedside reading lights is a wall-mounted, swing-arm fixture that should be mounted at the right height for actual reading. A better solution is two recessed, adjustable LED ceiling fixtures located over the bed. The lamps should have a tight beam spread, such as a MR-16 ESW. The fixture on the right should be aimed at the left side of the bed and vice versa to prevent your head from casting a shadow on your book. The switches should be located accordingly. The fixtures should be located roughly 18 to 24 inches from the wall and two feet from the center of the bed.

• Chandeliers over dining tables often do not provide the lighting necessary to show off the sparkle of your crystal and silver. Instead, opt for the same recessed ceiling fixtures that were used as reading lights in the bedroom. Install these over your table as accent lights. The bulbs should have a wider beam spread than those in the bedroom. They should be located on the long axis of the table, about three to six feet from the middle.

• Add dimmer to almost all fixtures throughout your house. This will help control the amount of light and extend the life of the lamp.


Houses for all Regions

The Crosby's house was published in a coffee table book from CRAN (Custom Residential Architects Network).

"Our resources and time are limited, but the possibilities are endless. As you engage in creating a house, let the particulars of your place, your history, and your personality thoughtfully inform the walls that wrap around you, the windows that let the sunshine in, and the roof that shelters your thoughts and creams so that what we collectively build is sustaining and sustainable."

Excerpt from Introduction, Houses for All Regions, CRAN Residential Collection.