by John C. Stevenson
photography by Josh Wilson
Designing a home gave David Allison, a Clemson University Alumni Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of Clemson’s Graduate Program in Architecture+Health, a chance to practice what he teaches.
When building a forever home, David and his wife Pat, who is a lecturer at Clemson, set out to create a space that would be easy to maintain, use minimal energy, provide for sustainable and healthy living and could continue to serve their needs as they age.
The home sits on a roughly 20,000 square-foot site; David said the house was oriented on the property in such a way that the couple are surrounded by tranquil, wooded views. “A definite decision in the design of the house was that we wanted to feel like we’re in the woods or the mountains and we’re actually in a subdivision in Clemson,” says David.
While preparing construction documents, the Allisons called on the additional help of Jessica Stack, Rachel Matthews and Kenneth Dong. General contractor Jon McGinney of McGinneyHomes LLC was selected for the unique project and though they moved in well before the current pandemic, the house has become a haven for the couple and exceeded every expectation, even the unplanned ones.
“With living and working at home, and not doing much of anything else, it’s been a real blessing to us,” said David. “We feel like we’re in the woods, and since my field is the study of the relationship between architecture of the built environment and health, we know that nature is a very therapeutic, stress-reducing thing for people.”
The three-level home offers 1,200-square-feet of central living space featuring an open design and many large windows to create harmony between indoors and out. The main floor includes an open kitchen, dining and living space as well as a primary bedroom suite. An 800-square-foot second floor holds two guest suites, each with a full bath. David and Pat partially finished 800-square-feet on the basement level, with a planned separate entrance for a future live-in caregiver, if needed.
A lovely 40×10-foot screened porch is kept cool in the summer by its clever placement under the tree canopy. The couple uses the porch for everything from entertaining to dinner for two. They plan to add outdoor cooking on the porch, a nod to the traditions of Pat’s Brazilian family and heritage.
The house needed to be low maintenance over time, so durable materials were chosen with great care throughout. Dekton, installed by Rozell Stone, was one such choice picked for kitchen counters and shower flooring. It’s a sophisticated blend of raw materials that is chemical and scratch resistant with zero porosity. Where tile was installed, larger scale pieces were picked to minimize grout. Another choice of durable materials is the high-gloss scratch-resistant polyester kitchen cabinetry by Forest Kitchen Design Studio.
“We didn’t want to spend our time cleaning or maintaining the house, or paying someone to do it,” David said, “so we invested in the front end so we would not have a lot of upkeep costs.”
Extra-wide doorframes and pocket doors are a feature that can easily accommodate a wheelchair, but they also add grace to the home’s spacious interior. No detail was overlooked; in the garage, the floor sits level with the footfall of the home, so anyone can easily transition through the property on foot or otherwise. Likewise, the primary bathroom suite boasts a no-step, wide entry shower.
It’s a home so thoughtfully planned that living there is easy now and for a host of tomorrows.