Dream Downsize: High-end finishes, custom fixtures make Keowee Springs home “paradise”

Carol Marchione and her husband, John Teeter, were aiming to downsize from their 6,000-square-foot converted barn in Chester County, Pennsylvania, when they began searching for a place to retire.

After hearing about The Cliffs while vacationing at a spa in California, Marchione called Chris Shelnut, a sales executive at Cliffs Realty.

“We’re looking for a two-bedroom house on a lake, with a flat property,” she told him. Chris explained there were no existing houses fitting that bill at The Cliffs, and suggested they consider building. Later that day, he called the couple back and invited them to an upcoming Discovery Weekend at The Cliffs. So, in May 2018, they drove down to South Carolina.

“We didn’t do any research beforehand,” Marchione admits. “But we were very impressed with the beauty of the lake.” Acting on impulse, they purchased a homesite at The Landing at Keowee Springs that weekend. In November 2019, Marchione and Teeter, who had just retired from his job as a professor of neurophysiology at the University of Pennsylvania, moved to South Carolina and rented a house at Keowee Vineyards while their new home was being built.

To embark on their first building experience, they chose a builder from The Cliffs Preferred Builder Program, Alair Homes in Greenville owned by Colby Hubble. “The biggest thing for us was we wanted a design that wasn’t out of a book,” Marchione says. “We wanted something different.” To complete the team, they hired architect Mel Dias of Mel Dias Design, and ID Studios of Greenville, owned by designer Kim Jackson. Working with Alair’s project manager, Scott Johnson, was key to what Marchione describes as “the most pleasant and creative experience I’ve ever had.” They moved into their new house in July 2021.

What started out as a traditional home evolved into a more modern style, playing off the lake in subdued shades of blue and gray. “We wanted a big, airy feeling [like that created by the 30-foot vaulted ceilings in their Pennsylvania house], but fewer rooms,” says Carol. “And the big thing we carried through with the help of our designer, Amy Faulkenberry, was texture.” Lighting, such as the custom fixture in the living room that sparkles, star-like, with more than 120 little cubes of light, was also a priority.

With only two bedrooms plus a bunk room, the house may be small — 3,200 square feet— compared to their previous home, but it has everything they need, including a studio for Teeter, a talented woodworker and artist. What stands out are the high-end touches. Case in point is the master bathroom, with its molded textural tile, marble floor, and deep Japanese soaking tub set off by the backlit onyx slab behind it. “Only certain colors of onyx are translucent, and if you get the thin- cut ones, it really projects light,” Marchione explains. “This one is orangey-gray, but turns dark brown and whitish yellow when lit from behind. It looks like clouds or mountains.”

To fill the soaking tub, water flows out of a faucet in the ceiling. “They had to position it just the right way and with the right pressure so the water comes out without splashing,” Marchone says. “It fills in about five minutes.” Speakers in the ceiling and a soon-to-be completed sauna add to the bathroom’s spa-like vibe.

The couple couldn’t be more thrilled with how the house turned out. “I wake up every day and think, ‘Oh, I’m in paradise,’” crows Marchione, who works as a pharmaceutical consultant. “The day we moved in, four of our neighbors brought us gifts. Everyone is so incredibly nice. I can’t imagine going anywhere else.”

This story was featured in Cliffs Living Magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.

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