Tips for Home Buyers Moving to Charleston

If you are looking to relocate to Charleston, you are not alone. Young professionals, couples, and families alike are all flocking to the picturesque South Carolina Lowcountry. Our weather, beaches, job opportunities, and historic charm all draw new residents to Charleston. If you are among them, here are some important considerations when searching for your new home.

 

DISCOVER CHARLESTON’S NEIGHBORHOODS

Disher, Hamrick & Myers Charleston Real Estate aerial view of downtown Charleston and harborThe first thing you’ll want to do is narrow your search by exploring Charleston’s neighborhoods and surrounding areas. DHM provides a convenient Neighborhood Guide to help you determine which part of town is right for you. Each location offers its own perks. For example, if you are looking for a historic home, South of Broad is a beautiful, walkable area rich in history. If you prefer a bungalow in an up-and-coming area, North Central may be the right fit. If you want to live on the water or close to the beach, then you are going to want to check out Folly Beach or one of our other coastal islands. Is it important to you to be near a park, a bike path, or a recreational activity? What community amenities does your family want? Charleston has something to offer everyone. So prioritize your lifestyle wishes, then tour the town to find your best fit.

 

RESEARCH THE COST OF LIVING

The local cost of living is important to consider when moving to Charleston. While the state of South Carolina tends to be less expensive than the national average, Charleston tends to be a bit higher. This is especially true when it comes to housing. Home prices vary greatly depending on the part of town you choose. In order to better determine what you can afford, you’ll want to get preapproved for your mortgage. Completing this process will help you focus your search to areas and homes that fit within your budget. In addition, you’ll need to account for costs that may not be necessary where you live now — such as flood, hurricane, and earthquake insurance, as well as pest control.

 

WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED LOCAL REALTOR®

Disher, Hamrick, Myers Charleston, SC Local Real Estate AgentsTo successfully navigate the busy Charleston market, you’ll want to seek the advice of an experienced local real estate agent. A professional that knows Charleston inside and out will help you find your perfect home with confidence. Especially in a hot seller’s market, working with a local expert is a must. Your Realtor® will present your offer quickly and negotiate on your behalf in the case of a bidding war.

 

CONNECT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUPS

A great and often overlooked way to learn about homes in Charleston is to reach out to local social groups, clubs, and organizations. Like-minded members can tell you firsthand what it is like to live in a particular neighborhood. They can also provide personal insights or make suggestions that you might not be able to find otherwise. As an added bonus, once you get here, you’ll already have friends and a social support network to help you quickly become part of the community.

 

CONSIDER EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION

Student Housing in Charleston, SCDon’t forget to think about your new home’s proximity to your job, employment opportunities, and schools. How much of a commute are you willing to trade for outdoor space in the suburbs as opposed to a downtown condo? Also, if you are looking to further your education or have children, be sure to research Charleston’s many great public and private schools, colleges, and universities. You may even want to consider investing in a home or condo for student housing.

 

When looking for your ideal home in one of America’s most popular cities, it’s essential to do your homework. Charleston has so much to offer, there truly is something for everyone. From historic downtown to the beaches, you’re sure to find your dream home. And DHM is here for you every step of the journey. To get started, give us a call at 843.577.4115 or click here:

 

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New Needs For Charleston Homeowners

Today, Americans are buying homes for new reasons. The recent health crisis has truly reshaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many people to reevaluate what homeownership means and what they find most important in a home.

According to Zillow:

“In 2020, homes went from the place people returned to after work, school, hitting the gym or vacationing, to the place where families do all of the above. For those who now spend the majority of their hours at home, there’s a growing wish list of what they’d change about their homes, if possible.”

With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the top reasons people are reconsidering where they live and thinking differently about what they need in a home.

 

WORKING FROM HOME

DHM Blog - New Needs for Charleston Homeowners Home OfficeRemote work is becoming the new norm, and it’s continuing longer than most initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore, and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside city limits. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:

“With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work and continued productivity challenging.

 

VIRTUAL & HYBRID SCHOOLING

DHM Blog - New Needs for Charleston Homeowners Home SchoolMany school districts are using a model of virtual or hybrid learning, turning their curriculums into digital formats for students. If you have school-age children, they may need a dedicated learning space. If so, it might be time to find a larger home to provide your children with the same kind of quiet room to focus on their schoolwork, just like you need for your office work.

 

HOME GYM

DHM Blog - New Needs for Charleston Homeowners Home GymStaying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans. With concern around the safety of returning to fitness facilities, dreams of space for a home gym are growing stronger. The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans explains:

“For many in quarantine, a significant decrease in activity is more than a vanity issue – it’s a mental health issue.”

Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – mentally and physically – may prompt you to consider a new place that includes space for at-home workouts.

 

OUTDOOR SPACE

DHM Blog - New Needs for Charleston Homeowners Outdoor SpaceEspecially for those living in an apartment or a small townhouse, outdoor space is a new priority. Zillow notes the benefits of being able to use your yard throughout the year:

“People want more space in their next home, and one way to get it is by turning part of the backyard into a functional room, an outdoor space for play as well as entertaining or cooking.”

You may, however, not have the extra square footage today to have these designated areas – indoor or out.

 

MOVING MAY BE YOUR BEST OPTION

If you’re looking for extra room to accommodate your changing needs, making a move may be your best bet – especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need it most. To find a Charleston home that fits your family’s needs, give us a call at 843.577.4115 or start your search below:

 

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Exterior Design Ideas to Increase Your Charleston Home’s Curb Appeal

Charleston consistently tops major publications’ “best-of” lists for the most desirable places to live and visit. Full of historic Southern sensibilities, our home exteriors are unique from other areas of the country. To increase the curb appeal of your Charleston home and capture the attention of neighbors and passersby alike, consider these exterior design ideas.

CREATE A LUSH GARDEN

Charleston benefits from a subtropical climate with mild winters, hot, humid summers, and plentiful year-round rainfall. This weather provides the ideal conditions for maintaining lush, green gardens that are a calling card of Charleston, SC homes. Centipede, Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine grasses all thrive in Southern lawns. Magnolia, palmetto, dogwood, and crepe myrtle trees create quintessential Lowcountry charm. Azalea, camellia, and hydrangea bushes add pops of color.

For a place to enjoy a glass of sweet tea or an after-work cocktail, consider a patio or deck. Adding a pergola will give your outdoor space an extra touch of character, plus provide comfort in the Southern sun.

 

REPLACE THE CONCRETE DRIVEWAY

Cobblestone Street, Charleston, SCWhile concrete driveways are a staple of suburban America, their bland, highly-processed look is not as appropriate in Charleston — especially on the downtown peninsula, which still maintains historic cobblestone streets.

Some of the better alternatives to concrete driveways include:

Brick – This is a timeless choice appropriate for period homes. There are also alternatives to laying a traditional brick driveway. Innovative pavers give the appearance of natural brick, yet come in prefabricated sections that are easier to work with.

Gravel – A gravel driveway is a great Charleston choice, with a look that fits our coastal atmosphere and superior drainage during times of heavy rainfall. Modern interlocking grids hold the gravel in place and prevent the formation of ruts and clumps.

Cobblestone – Cobblestone is a classic driveway material that will make your home’s exterior authentically Charleston. It fits the sensibilities of 19th-century style, plus is extremely durable and resistant to staining.

Hybrid – A combination of classic driveway materials can maximize a Charleston home’s curb appeal. Fill the main bed with cinders or pea gravel to enhance drainability, while lining the perimeter with bricks or cobblestones to create a bold period statement.

 

CHOOSE COLORFUL SIDING

Charleston is all about colorful homes. In fact, Rainbow Row on East Bay Street, which features homes in various pastel hues, is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. However, the best house siding material is about more than just color. To maintain a vibrant appearance in warm, salty air, consider these options:

Composites – Natural wood is a favorite home siding choice, but it does not perform as well in areas where moisture can be absorbed. Fortunately, there are a plethora of composites, such as fiber cement and vinyl, that give the appearance of natural wood. These synthetic siding materials are lightweight and manufactured in a number of colors, keeping a Charleston home’s clean appearance for many years without the threat of moisture damage.

Stucco – As long as you have solid moisture barriers between stucco and its substrate, stucco will last many years in a warm climate. Stucco’s ability to provide a uniform front makes it a particularly strong option for capturing Charleston’s colorful charm.

Brick – While the array of color options doesn’t match composites or stucco, brick is nonetheless a Charleston favorite. Its natural appearance restores the classic beauty of historic homes. Modern brick facade materials offer an increased selection of designs and colors, making it easier than ever to incorporate into a siding renovation.

 

INSTALL WINDOW SHUTTERS

With well over 200 days of sunshine each year, Charlestonians have to consider this element in their window choices. It’s a good idea to use low-E and double-paned windows to help control solar radiation entering the house. But don’t forget aesthetic when using these modern materials, especially on days when windows are just meant to be open. Six-over-six double-hung windows were particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and remain so today. You’ll also find variations on the number of panes throughout the historic district, along with arches (particularly on Palladian windows), and big bay windows. French doors and sliders are other Lowcountry essentials for easy access to the outdoors and letting in fresh air.

Another classic Charleston exterior design element is the window shutter. Historic homes used shutters to protect expensive glass from strong winds and battering rains. And while window design and installation have improved to make the shutter largely functionally obsolete, its appeal remains as strong as ever. Louver and panel styles maintain an old-world feel, while Bermuda shades are popular on the beaches. Adding shutters to even the most modern residences will give your home a timeless appeal.

 

Skylar Ross is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Skylar focuses on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Have Your Best Valentine’s Day in Charleston

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Now is the opportunity to pamper your loved ones – and yourself – with some of the best that Charleston has to offer. Here are our real estate agents’ recommendations for the most romantic spots to celebrate your Valentine’s Day in Charleston. Just click on each name to be linked to the individual businesses’ websites for more information.

 

MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS IN CHARLESTON

  • Tempest this upscale seafood eatery on Market Street was just named the #1 Best New Restaurant in the USAToday 10Best Readers’ Choice awards. The historic Harriott Pinckney Home for Sailors building they house has undergone a beautiful transformation, including a custom-designed stained glass ceiling. Try out their special Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menu.
  • R. Kitchen – Chef Ross Webb creates a new four-course menu every night for the 16 lucky guests who sit at the counter in his kitchen in Cannonborough-Elliotborough.
  • Middleton Place Restaurant – Once the daytime crowds have left, enjoy strolling the moonlit pathways of Middleton Place gardens before or after your traditional Southern meal at the restaurant. Don’t miss the Huguenot Torte for dessert! To top your evening off, book a romantic room in the Middleton Inn where you can enjoy champagne and chocolates in a soaking tub or beside the wood-burning fireplace.
  • Zero Restaurant + Bar – Located in a boutique hotel in Ansonborough, this small fine dining spot is the reason why Zero George was named one of Conde Nast’s Top 5 Foodie Hotels in the World.
  • Circa 1886 – Tucked in the former carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, enjoy the seasonal menu or splurge on the 5-course tasting menu. After dinner, be sure to tour the Wentworth Mansion. If you are lucky, catch a glimpse of the city at twilight from atop their cupola.

 

BEST CHOCOLATES:

Charleston Valentine's Day chocolates & flowers

  • Christophe – Treat yourself to handmade traditional chocolates as well as delicious pastries from French Artisan Chocolatier-Pâtissier Christophe Paume.
  • Market Street Sweets – If chocolate alone isn’t your thing, indulge your sweet tooth with warm pecan pralines and fresh Bear Claws. Originally from River Street in Savannah, this shop also has locations on the Market and King Street. I dare you to walk by the smells wafting out of these shops without stopping for at least a sample!

 

BEST FLORIST:

  • Lotus Flower – Since 2000, the owners have been making some of the most creative arrangements in Charleston.
  • Tiger Lily Florist – The converted service station on Spring Street has become one of downtown Charleston’s premier flower shops, plus they deliver throughout the area.
  • Charleston Flower Market – This long-time shop on Maybank Highway on James Island advertises “uniquely creative” cut flowers and arrangements.

 

BEST SPA:

  • The Spa at Charleston Place – This European-style retreat is located in the Charleston Place Hotel in downtown Charleston. Guests have access to a rooftop pool with retractable glass ceiling. After your appointment, enjoy a poolside lunch. Or have a mommy and me day, treating your daughter to a “Lollipop Manicure.”
  • Earthling Day Spa – Another stalwart of the downtown spa scene, Earthling also houses a Pilates studio.
  • Woodhouse Day Spa – This luxurious spa across the Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant receives rave reviews. They have also recently opened a second area location in the new WestEdge development on the peninsula.

Remember when two people love each other, anything can be romantic! And if you’re single this Valentine’s Day, why not pamper yourself?

How will you spend your Valentine’s Day in Charleston? What are your suggestions for the most romantic spots? Let us know in the comments.

 

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The Joggling Board in Charleston, SC Homes

If you’re not from the Lowcountry, you might be curious about those long green planks on rockers that grace the piazzas of many Charleston, SC homes. They’re called joggling boards, and their history and folklore are quite interesting.

CREATION OF THE JOGGLING BOARD

Joggling boards are typically 16 feet long and made of flexible pine painted Charleston green (a tint so dark it almost appears black). Although they are mainly used for decoration or fun seating today, they actually started out as an exercise device. According to legend, the first joggling board was built at Acton Plantation in Sumter County in the early 1800s. The owner of the plantation, Cleland Kinloch, was a widower who invited his widowed sister Mary Huger to run the household. That woman developed rheumatoid arthritis that made it too painful for her to do many activities. Riding in a carriage that was outfitted with a rocking chair was one of the few things she could enjoy. Upon hearing this, the Kinlochs’ relatives in Scotland devised an apparatus that would simulate the movement of a carriage ride and gently “joggle” its occupant back and forth, up and down, providing a little exercise and joint pain relief. The result was the joggling board.

Soon many houses in Charleston and across the state had joggling boards. They provided a fun way to relax on your porch or in your yard as you enjoyed the breezes and took a break from the southern heat. Throughout the 19th century they became so ubiquitous that they made their way into some of life’s most important events.

COURTING BENCHES

EA Joggling boardOne of the more colorful stories in Southern lore says that no house with a joggling board on its front porch has an unmarried daughter living there. Back in the days when proper young couples couldn’t be alone together without supervision, the distance of the joggling board was deemed adequate protection. So if the young lady sat on one end and her suitor on the other, they were far enough apart not to require a chaperone. But as they talked and joggled, they’d slowly move closer to each other. If they got so close that his hand touched her knee, her reputation for purity would be ruined and he’d be forced to propose marriage. Imagine a father concerned that his daughter may become a spinster deciding that his best option was to get a joggling board!

Another popular use was to rock babies to sleep. Nannies were often seen soothing fussy infants with the gentle swaying motion.

JOGGLING BOARDS TODAY

In the 20th century, the cost of suitable lumber increased to the point where joggling boards fell out of fashion. Today, however, they are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. One of the first companies to bring them back is based in Charleston.  They harken back to a more genteel time and still provide an enjoyable place to sit. Plus they require less space than a porch swing. As not all houses have expansive porches, modern versions are built in various smaller sizes. They are particularly well-loved by children.

If you would like to see and try out a joggling board, they are found in several museum houses in Charleston. Please visit the Edmondston-Alston House or the Nathaniel Russell House in downtown Charleston or Middleton Place in West Ashley.

Would you like to have a joggling board in your Charleston home?

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Southern Holiday Traditions

How do you celebrate Christmas in Charleston and where did those traditions originate? The South is rich in history, and Charleston is no exception. Did you know that Southern states were the first to adopt Christmas as a legal holiday? (Alabama in 1836, followed by Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.) Over the years, it’s no surprise that many regional Southern holiday traditions have spread around the country.

CHARLESTON’S POINSETTIA ROOTS

Southern holiday poinsettiaToday we hail the poinsettia as the official plant of the Christmas season. Did you know this is thanks to a South Carolina gentleman by the name of Joel Robert Poinsett? Poinsett was in the US House of Representatives and also served as the Minister to Mexico. While on a trip to Mexico in 1925, he discovered the festive red-colored flower. He brought it home to Charleston and introduced it as a holiday adornment. The rest is history. Today, throughout the South and the nation you will see these beautiful flowers displayed on the inside and outside of homes during the Yuletide season.

CITRUS FOR THE SEASON

Southern holiday citrus decorationsIt is a Southern holiday tradition to this day for Santa to leave some citrus fruit in children’s stockings. No, it’s not a gimmick to take up space. Years ago, finding citrus in your stocking in the middle of winter was a luxury. Citrus was only available during certain seasons of the year, so to receive an orange at Christmas was a special and expensive treat. Decorating wreaths, trees and holiday decor with different citrus fruits is still a tradition today. In fact, take a tour around Downtown Charleston or visit one of the museum houses to see citrus and evergreen decorations on the outsides as well as interiors of historic Charleston homes. To view some beautiful examples, visit The Charleston Museum’s blog showcasing the Garden Club of Charleston’s traditional holiday decorations at the Joseph Manigault House. They will be on display to the public through December 31.

FRIED TURKEY, OYSTERS & PECAN PIE

Southern holiday oystersWhat would a Southern meal be without any of these delicacies? Fresh oysters are popular during the holiday season because their harvest is best during the coldest time of year. (Remember the old adage that oysters are good during months that have an “R” in their names.) Deep frying as a preparation for turkey also originated in the South. And don’t forget the pecan pie for dessert. The documented history of this recipe dates back to the 1880s. Legend says the French in New Orleans made a version of it after Native Americans introduced them to the pecan tree. Today this gooey, delicious Southern treat has spread across the country and is a staple this time of year. Visit Southern Living for a variety of delicious pecan pie recipes and other traditional Southern holiday foods.

What holiday treats and traditions does your family celebrate? Please share in the comments. Disher, Hamrick & Myers wishes HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all!


If this discussion of Southern holidays makes you yearn for a home in beautiful Charleston, SC, give us a call at 843.577.4115. Disher, Hamrick & Myers has been a leader in Charleston real estate since 1984. From historic downtown to the islands, we will help you find your dream property!

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Walk to Work Living in the Upper King Design District

Looking for a trendy and relatively affordable home in Charleston, SC? Be sure to consider Upper King Street. With almost every type of business — from hip tech firms, to interior designers, to architects, to collaborative work spaces — in this neighborhood, many residents take advantage of the opportunity to walk to work. This area is a great place to stay when visiting, as hotels aren’t as expensive as in other parts of the historic district. It’s also an ideal home base from which to explore the Charleston area.

King Street crosses through the middle of the Charleston peninsula and is divided into three zones: Lower King is the Antiques District, Middle King has the Fashion District, and Upper King is known as the Design District. It runs north of Calhoun Street from Marion Square to the Septima P. Clark Expressway, more commonly called the Crosstown. The neighborhood features new construction as well as restored historic homes and those ready for renovation. It also boasts some of the city’s latest and trendiest restaurants along with hotels, art galleries, fantastic shopping, flourishing businesses and a lively nightlife. With its proximity to the College of Charleston, students and a younger crowd frequent it during the school year.

Charlestonians love this neighborhood for its eclectic vibe, easy access and cultural value. Are you a foodie? Look no further: Upper King boasts some the latest and greatest Charleston restaurants. On Saturdays, visitors and locals alike shop the Marion Square Farmers Market for fresh food and local treats. You can spend your days window shopping along the picturesque avenue, then enjoy your nights in the latest hot spots.

THE HISTORY OF UPPER KING STREET

King Street, Charleston, SC c.1910-1920s

At more than 200 years old, King Street is the second most historically and architecturally significant street in downtown Charleston, after Meeting Street. It was named for King Charles II of England and was a main route in the early city of Charles Towne. Many side streets were named after prominent families, including Ann, John and Mary Wragg. In the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, King Street bustled as a retail corridor. Accordingly, many of the buildings are commercial, with residential spaces on the upper floors. Today, Upper King Street continues to be home to mostly local businesses and remains a work-where-you-live neighborhood.

Edwards Store, Upper King St, Charleston, SC, c. 1930–1945

The story of Upper King Street closely parallels that of downtown Charleston as a whole. After the Civil War, it fell into disrepair. But during the 1950s, it experienced a regrowth. The shopping district was very popular, perhaps too popular, leading to traffic congestion. As a result, in 1950, King turned into a one-way street. This sped up traffic, but hurt local businesses, as the road became more of a thoroughfare than a place to stop and shop. The general move to the suburbs during this time also hurt in-town businesses, and buildings along Upper King fell into disrepair. Like elsewhere in the city, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 destroyed many of the structures that were left or forced the remaining businesses to close. A silver lining of the storm is that it brought awareness to the need to revitalize the area, along with insurance money to make that happen.

REVITALIZATION

Bluestein Brothers Department Store, Upper King Street, Charleston, SCIn his first mayoral campaign, Mayor Joe Riley “promised to reverse the flow of business from downtown Charleston to the suburban shopping malls by revitalizing the central business district.” He spurred the revival of King Street throughout the decade of the 1980s, beginning with the construction of the Charleston Place Hotel. He also prompted the city to spend almost $50,000 to rebuild the c.1913 Bluestein’s clothing store at 494 King Street, which had been gutted by fire in 1987.

Other significant steps in the revitalization of Upper King into the lively hub it is today include:

  • 1991: the Charleston Visitor Center opened in an old train station, bringing tourists to this side of town.
  • 2001: the city renovated Marion Square for public use.
  • 1994: Upper King Street converted back into to two-way road.
  • 2005-2007: a streetscape project buried power lines, upgraded communication and gas lines, made stormwater improvements, and added bluestone sidewalks with granite curbs.

DINING & ENTERTAINMENT

Charleston Visitor Center, Upper King StreetAll of these enhancements paved the way for new businesses to venture into Upper King Street. The relatively inexpensive rent, compared to other more established retail venues, was also an incentive. The transformation into a dining and entertainment district began in 2005 with the opening of two popular restaurants, Chai’s and Reval. In 2009, fine dining came to Upper King with Halls Chophouse, and the city’s nightlife began to move from the Market to Upper King. Since then, dozens of the city’s trendiest restaurants have made their home here, including:

  • O-Ku
  • Macintosh
  • Cocktail Club
  • 39 Rue de Jean
  • Stars with its rooftop bar
  • Barsa
  • Rarebit
  • Hutson Alley

Click here for a full guide to Upper King restaurants and bars, including links to their menus and reservations.

UPPER KING ACTIVITIES

fountain at Marion Square, Upper King Street, Charleston, SCBe sure also to explore the retail shops and art galleries along King Street. While other areas of town have become populated by national and regional chains, Upper King remains home to mostly local businesses. In addition to shopping and dining, Upper King has plenty of landmarks to entertain you.

Contact Disher, Hamrick, & Myers Real Estate at 843.577.4115 for homes for sale in the Upper King Design District. Start enjoying everything this neighborhood has to offer today!

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The Charleston Single House

The single house is an architectural style found almost exclusively in Charleston, SC and this home plan gives the historic city much of its unique charm. The layout of a single house is ideally suited to the narrow street-facing lots originally laid out in Charleston in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (see Grand Modell). The homes are only one room wide and two rooms deep on each level, with a central hall between. Typically a porch, or piazza as it is known in Charleston, runs the length of the house with a public door facing the street. Visitors must enter the home through this entrance and traverse the porch before entering the central private door into the home. To take best advantage of prevailing breezes, piazzas always face south or west.

Charleston Single House at 62 Tradd St.

Public spaces, like an entry or office, inhabit the first floor. Entertaining spaces, such as drawing rooms, withdrawing rooms or ballrooms occupy the second floor – above the hustle and bustle (and mess and smells) of the streetways. Family spaces and bedrooms are found on the third floor. Each room would incorporate more or less decorative detail according to its use, with second floor spaces having the highest ceilings with intricate and colorful moldings. Those high ceilings, coupled with tall windows (often floor-length to accommodate walking out to the piazzas) allowed breezes to flow through the rooms and helped make Lowcountry weather more bearable.

Outbuildings, such as kitchens, stables and carriage houses, were constructed separate from the main house to the rear of the property. Today, many of these have been converted into separate residences (and given rise to the unique ½ address that dot the Charleston Peninsula). Other outbuildings were later connected to the main residence via “hyphens.” Kitchens were built away from the main house in an attempt to prevent fires — such as the numerous ones that destroyed large swaths of the peninsula — from spreading to the living quarters. This is also why the back wall of the main houses had fewer windows than might be expected for ventilation.

Charleston Single House at 45 Church St.

Various decorative styles have been applied to the single house layout, including Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian. Two and three-story piazzas often employ the classical order of columns with the ground level being Doric, followed by Ionic and Corinthian. Formal gardens beautified the side yards to be enjoyed from the shady porches. In fact, upper porches were sometimes used as sleeping quarters on hot, humid nights.

Don’t believe a tour guide who tells you single houses were a reaction to the city taxing street frontage. Instead, “early Charlestonians developed the Single House as an ingenious solution to the various demands of their unique urban landscape: a house that provided privacy, ventilation, fire protection, and social status within the confines of a tightly restrictive public space.” (credit Charleston County Pubic Library)

If this style historic home appeals to you, contact us for a list of Charleston single houses currently for sale.

 

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Colorful Landscape Staples that Keep Charleston Beautiful

Spring has sprung in Charleston, as evinced by all the beautiful blooms sprouting in area gardens and parks. When planning your own landscape design, be sure to include plants that are well-adapted to the area. They not only blend well aesthetically with other local flora, but more importantly, thrive in the environment.

The South Carolina Lowcountry is conducive to many plant types, from massive Live Oak trees adorned with Spanish moss that add a canopy of shade, to Southern Pines, to a number of spectacular ornamentals and unique grasses. Here are a few excellent choices for plants that not only do well in the Charleston-area climate, but also add beauty to your home.

 

CAMELLIA

These moderately tall shrubs boast colorful flowers that bloom in the winter. One of the most appealing attributes of the camellia family is that they are evergreen. In the Lowcountry climate, the leaf portion of stays green year-round.

While there are more than 3000 individual varieties across the US South, the Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) is most popular around Charleston. It was brought to the New World late in the 18th century by French botanist Andre Michaux and earned the name the “Rose of Winter.”

The camellia proves hardy in hot Lowcountry summers, and supplies a vibrant show of color through the winter months. You’ll see versions in hot pink, to pale pink, to white, and combinations of those colors. Many of the shades are the perfect landscape compliment to the primary colors of azaleas. Camellias also come in varieties that produce double flowers.

If you would like to see thousands of camellias in bloom, be sure to attend one of Middleton Place’s camellia walks. These free guided tours take place in early February each year, when the flowers are at their most spectacular. You’ll even visit the 1786 Reine des Fleurs, one of the first camellias planted in America.

Did you know that tea leaves come from a camellia? The Camellia sinensis also grows well in the Lowcountry. You can even tour America’s only tea producer, the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. Here, you’ll see fields of the plants growing – and if you come at the right time, even being harvested. While there, be sure to sample some American Classic Tea.

 

AZALEA

The azalea has provided the most popular spring color display in South Carolina for centuries. Each spring, thousands of avid fans across the south flock to Summerville’s Flowertown Festival to see the blossoms at their peak.

While some cultivators across Charleston are indigenous, others were imported from the Orient. The azalea finds an ideal home in the shade under native Live Oak trees. The pH soil levels in the Lowcountry are also next to perfect for growing massive clusters of azaleas.

The shallow root systems of nearly all azalea varieties are excellent for providing quick moisture from minimal rainfall. In isolated landscape planters, some irrigation can be helpful during long dry spells. They rarely need pruning, except in situations where shaping or containment are desired.

 

CREPE MYRTLE

The crepe myrtle is a flowering shrub that can also grow to heights classified as a tree. Like the camellia and azalea, Lagerstroemia indica has a number of cultivators, many brought to the US from parts of Asia.

The name is indicative of the crepe paper-like bark that covers the tree’s trunk. As a crepe myrtle grows more mature, the light and dark spots on the trunk become an important part of its visual appeal. The pink, purple, or white flowers are equally as breathtaking.

Frequently, crepe myrtles are cut back in the late fall and allowed to winter over with virtually no top portion. During the next spring, shoots of limbs multiply. As the smaller crepe myrtles grows into trees, they provide a color spectacle that can last the better part of the Lowcountry summer.

 

DOGWOOD

Another species of flowering landscape foliage prevalent in the Lowcountry is the dogwood tree. Many native species grow wild in surrounding wooded areas. The two most common colors of its flowers are pink and white. Old dogwood trees often have an under layer of azaleas augmenting their spring display. The dogwood’s flowering is a signal of spring.

While not quite as visible as the bark of the crepe myrtle, the dogwood also has a unique texture to its trunk. As the trees mature, definitive bark grain begins to help foretell the years the tree has been alive.

Many historic homes in and around Charleston are as known for their fantastic gardens as they are for the actual house. Next time you are strolling through downtown Charleston, be sure to notice these popular landscape trees. Together with annual and perennial flowers, they keep Charleston blooming in vibrant color.

 

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4 Things to Look for in a Senior-Friendly Home

While not every senior is in the market for a new home, you may find that it’s one of the best options for aging in place. Whether you currently own a home or are renting, there are ways to ensure your comfort and stability well into your golden years. Here’s what to look for in a senior-friendly home—whether it’s a purchase or renovation.

 

ENOUGH SPACE (BUT NOT TOO MUCH)

When contemplating a home purchase, your primary concern should be space. You want enough living space to be comfortable, but not so much that you spend all your time cleaning or going up and down the stairs. This means, by default, your ideal home will likely have less square footage than where you’re currently living. Because many older adults have mobility challenges, a single-level home may be your best option.

Senior Couple Living in Charleston, SCWhen preparing to move to a smaller home, downsizing your belongings might be next on the list. Downsizing can help eliminate your home’s need for upkeep and reduce your expenses each month. But if you have items that you’re not sure you want to part with, the process can be tough.

Short-term storage offers a convenient way to clear out your home without giving up prized possessions. You can rent a storage unit while considering what to do with those belongings. It’s easy to find affordable temporary storage units in Charleston. While the cost varies by size, the average price per month is only $91.

 

ACCESSIBLE FEATURES FOR AGING IN PLACE

Part of your retirement plan likely involves living at home for as long as possible—or even forever. Therefore, looking for accessible features is crucial when buying or renovating a home. Unfortunately, more than 95% of homes lack accessible features, which means you’ll either need to buy an adapted home or make changes on your own.

Features like low countertops for seated access when using a wheelchair, wide doorways to accommodate mobility issues, and grab bars in the bathroom may be crucial for the safety and enjoyment of your home. But also consider less noticeable elements, such as ground-level entry and doorknobs that don’t require significant grip strength.

In many newer homes, universal design elements are friendly to people of all abilities—not just seniors. Pulls instead of knobs on drawers, under-the-counter appliances, and varied-height countertops are a few highlights. A newer construction property may check all the boxes for your home accessibility needs.

 

PROXIMITY TO COMMUNITY

Whether you’re moving across town or the country, finding a community is vital for older adults. Especially if you’re single or widowed, being near friends and family can help keep you connected.

Senior Couple Living in Charleston, SC

Research has shown that seniors with strong friendships and community ties are healthier than those who spend more time alone. Conversely, seniors who experience social isolation and loneliness may develop or worsen health issues. Happily, Charleston and its suburbs have numerous public activities and volunteer opportunities to keep retirees busy.

Think about what features you want in your community—such as a senior center, fitness facility, parks, or shops, and then center your home search in areas that suit. Fortunately, Charleston has recently been named the #6 city in the US for longevity. Our walkability, gyms, sports opportunities, dog ownership, and healthy food options all help you live a longer, healthier life.

 

THE RIGHT LOAN TERMS FOR SENIOR HOMES

Wherever—and however—you decide to move, buying a home can be a stressful experience. But the rewards are greater than the drawbacks for many seniors. Owning a home provides security and comfort that renting or even senior community living simply can’t—making it an excellent choice for many older adults.

If you are considering a home purchase, think about using a VA loan. For example, PennyMac VA Loans are an excellent benefit for senior veterans. These loans require little to no down payment, they don’t charge private mortgage insurance (PMI), and the rates are often superior to those of conventional loan options.

Other loan types—including down payment assistance programs and special purchase credits—are also available for seniors. And in some cases, a first-time homebuyer program may be appropriate. Speak to a knowledgeable real estate agent to determine the best choice for your financial situation.

 

Disher, Hamrick & Myers offers a variety of senior-friendly housing options. In-city condos (such as those at Dockside Condominiums) are perfect for those looking to achieve a more maintenance-free lifestyle, yet remain close to everything downtown Charleston has to offer. Many of our listings also include accessibility features, one-story floor plans, or elevators to help you age in place. No matter what type of retirement living is right for you, our team of local real estate agents will help you find the perfect place to call home in your retirement years!

 

Author Jim Vogel is founder of elderaction.org.

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