There’s a conventional wisdom about wide-open spaces. In a place with fewer distractions, less traffic and unfettered access to nature, simple pleasures, night skies full of stars and room to spread one’s wings all arrive in abundance. Standing before a parcel of land they’d held onto for several years on the rural outskirts of Greer, South Carolina, Tab and Laurin Patton had a similar vision in mind. Initially, they’d purchased the 60-plus acres of rolling green pastures for their proximity to family (right next to Laurin’s mother’s house, in fact). But with three young daughters at ages defined by discovery, the couple’s own imaginations engaged with thoughts of the family homestead they could create—complete with proverbial room to grow.
Having built numerous homes together in the past (the pair co-founded a commercial construction business in 2002), Tab and Laurin launched the project with a well-considered list of must-haves, the most significant being elevation. Happy to trade their former, three-story residence for a single-story manse that would permit aging in place, they embraced the possibility of a forever home.
“We wanted every space in the house to be used,” Laurin explains. “We find it much easier to have everything on one level, with wide passageways, so it can grow with us as we grow older—no matter what.” For Tab and Laurin, that would require a certain timelessness, which is precisely why they tapped Atlanta-based architect D. Stanley Dixon to design it.
“The couple had been drawn to our traditional architecture, but with a cleaner, more edited approach,” Dixon notes. Though regarded for his modern take on classicism, “I was impressed that Stan had designed residences in so many varied styles, and I liked them all,” Laurin says. “His designs are all classic—yes—but they’re not all the same.”
Approaching the sprawling plot with intentions of anchoring it, Dixon saw only opportunities. “With the relatively flat land, there weren’t many preexisting limitations, and the size of the property gave us an incredible amount of freedom and flexibility,” expresses the architect, who collaborated with project manager Robert Smith and project architect Clark Templeton. “We had an incredible palette to work with.”
Dixon based his design loosely on English precedent—think high-pitched, gabled roofs; painted brick; clerestory windows—but also took artistic license. “Since it’s in the rural South, the house feels like a blend of English country with rural Southern forms of architecture,” he explains. “It’s a loose, edited take on traditional forms.” Varying ceiling heights throughout imparted a sense of rhythm and kept the home from appearing too low within its setting, while wings for the private domains, including back-of-house spaces and bedrooms for the Patton’s daughters, provided privacy and introduced natural light from all sides.
Landscape designer Dabney Peeples devised ways to make the residence feel at one with its setting. Conceived with project lead Nathan Schaupp, his plan included accents of young white-oak trees, flowering evergreen shrubs and hardy Bermuda grass turf. Two species of boxwoods—American and Korean wintergreen—combine with an understated motor court of antique Belgian cobblestones to reinforce the home’s European appeal.
If their home’s bones were meant to be timeless, then the Pattons wanted its interiors to feel current. Enlisting Dustin Fowler, a designer who’d already teamed up with Dixon in the past, guaranteed a cohesive yet exuberant world conceived with the daughters top of mind. “From the very first meeting, Laurin said, ‘We want this to be a family house, a fun house.’ So, it needed to be playful in all aspects, but also comfortable and stylish.” Fowler says.
Most pivotal was the kitchen, which would be open-format and inviting, but also functional. Fowler was intimately involved in the design of the cabinetry, down to the smallest detail. “This space was about bringing the three girls into the kitchen to have fun and make messes—baking cookies, dying Easter eggs, everyday cooking,” Fowler notes. “Having two islands allowed all the extra space for those activities.”
Since the Pattons wished to furnish the residence from scratch, Fowler could get creative. Inviting Laurin along on sourcing trips throughout the project proved key to learning exactly what she loved: a crisp palette of black and white layered with plenty of pattern and small doses of vibrant color. Artworks by Athens, Georgia, artist Susan Hable, for instance, add pops of brightness throughout, while a Kindah Khalidy abstract—which Tab and Fowler commissioned just for Laurin—takes pride of place in the main bedroom.
“What I like is that Dustin can work with so many different styles but tailor them to a client,” Laurin sums. “He took the time to get to know us and what our interests are, then used that knowledge to create spaces we love.” Dixon’s approach to architecture, Laurin adds, was just as impeccable: “I like that it won’t look like we built our house in 2020. It will stand the test of time.”