Lowcountry Lux

Amongst the shady trees of Airlie Oaks Lane, sits the home of Susanna and Stedman Stevens

Amongst the shady trees of Airlie Oaks Lane, sits the home of SUSANNA and STEDMAN STEVENS. Built in 2016, it is quintessential Wilmington: a blending of high style and comfy, coastal charm.

Cedar wood shakes paired with crisp, white siding, a wrap-around porch, and an eight-foot-tall front door painted in bright, beachy teal makes for a stunning combination.

The design is courtesy of the Stevenses themselves. Both, admittedly strong-willed, compromised to represent each of their tastes in their first-time journey with building a house.

“Our plan was really not to build, but our real estate agent (Vance Young, Intracoastal Realty) brought us here. He said, ‘Look, this is a great buy, and this is a great location,’” Susanna says.

Airlie Oaks is nestled behind the Fish House Grill and Bridge Tender restaurants, just before the Wrightsville Beach bridge. The Stevenses’ property originally had a small teardown house, awkwardly placed on a shared driveway off Allens Lane. With some maneuvering, the Stevenses switched the entrance to Airlie Oaks, joined the HOA, cleared the lot, and began to sketch out what both agreed would be a Lowcountry design.

“But, did we want Lowcountry/French country or Lowcountry/beach?” Stedman asks.

“I didn’t want the French country, too formal,” Susanna replies.

“And, I didn’t want totally beach,” Stedman says.

“So, we came to a great compromise,” Susanna says.

“Yep, the French country went out the window, and farmhouse came in,” Stedman adds with a laugh.

The sliding barn door to the laundry room and shiplap walls throughout were farmhousee inspired design decisions by Stedman. The accents of cobblestone brick floors both inside and out came from Susanna, something she had in her home growing up in Raleigh.

“That was something the subcontractors were like, ‘Do what?’” Susanna Stevens says. “But, those are little things I felt like I could add that would keep it warm and inviting and livable.”

With five children between the two of them, ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-nine, the couple needed a durable house with plenty of room, without having to break the bank.

Their builder, Whit Honeycutt of North State Custom Builders, taught the Stevenses how to stay on budget.

“We were able to figure out where we wanted to spend money that it gave us the feel we wanted and where we could save money,” Stedman says.

Neutral wall colors (such as Benjamin Moore’s Abalone) give the Stevenses’ artwork collection a chance to shine. The mudroom painted in all black (Black Satin, Benjamin Moore) provides a fun contrast. The Wythe Blue shiplap used in the master and sea glass tiled master shower adds a cheerful note.

Attaching the tub’s faucet onto a marble-topped ledge on the wall was Stedman’s idea.

“The plumber couldn’t understand what we were talking about mounting the faucet on the ledge, but then you have a place to put stuff,” Stedman says.

Susanna matched the turquoise tones from Stedman’s surfboard and used them on the walls of their garage apartment, the perfect guest suite or teenage dream room.

Today, the Stevenses enjoy their back porch year-round, and on days they are both working from home, they ride bikes to get lunch.

“I can ride my bike to the grocery store, it’s great,” Stedman says. “We love our house,” Susanna adds.


To view more of photographer T.J. Drechsel’s work, go to tjdrechselphotography.com.

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Categories: Features