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HOMEOWNERS - Rachael and Bill DeLoach

BUILT - June 2002 - January 2004

STYLE - Stained hardcoat stucco and a concrete barrel roof lend Italian flair to this Mediterranean-style home

HOME SITE - Nestled among old live oaks on Wilmington Island, with deepwater access just a stone's throw away

LIVING SPACE - A "cozy" 4,700 square feet

AT-HOME PASTIMES - Cooking and enjoying waterfront activities (shrimping, crabbing, swimming, boating, and watching the sun set on the river)

HOUSEBUILDING TIP - "Pick a plan that really fits your land; each of our rooms, for example, has a view of the water"

CUSTOMER QUOTATION - "All the items Frontgate offers are functional. They're things you really need in a home: towels, rugs, garden supplies, the whole nine yards." - Rachael DeLoach
The Master Bedroom

The Master Bathroom

The Family Room

The Kitchen

BUILDERS - R L Construction Co. Savannah, GA (912) 313-3295

Delco Custom Homes Savannah, GA (912) 598-7665

ARCHITECT - Sater Design Bonita Springs, FL (800) 718-7526

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA — When two people with vision and commitment put their minds together, great things can happen. But when those two people are Rachael and Bill DeLoach, who have each owned a construction company for 17 years, you can look for great things times two, especially when it comes to building their first home together. Theirs is a story of collaboration that paid off in ways they could not have imagined.

It began at the turn of the millennium when Rachael, who had worked exclusively in commercial construction, decided to build her first home. The experience proved to be both successful and satisfying. "My friends kept telling me that I should build houses for a living, and I finally decided to take them at their word. In 2002, I bought a 150' x 550' waterfront lot on Wilmington Island, subdivided the piece, and set out to build houses on both lots at the same time. I wanted to protect my financial investment by building side by side and maintain control over what went in next door. And besides," she continues, "I've always been gutsy."

"The graceful canopy of trees makes the property and gives the setting its mystique"

For help with such an undertaking, Rachael wanted to collaborate with an experienced residential builder. In July 2002, friends introduced her to Bill DeLoach, the owner of Delco Custom Homes Inc. in Savannah. His reputation for building fine homes had been well established. "He was known for quality work, and I knew the quality I wanted," Rachael says. "We quickly discovered that we have the same taste. To be honest, I didn't interview anyone else."

A WATER ORIENTATION

Shaded by old live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the land Rachael had chosen is nestled on the banks of the Wilmington River, where it makes its way from the Intercostal Waterway out to the Atlantic. The graceful canopy of trees "makes the property and gives the setting its mystique," she says.


While the front enjoys the charming old live oaks and hanging Spanish moss, the focal point of the house is the lowcountry waterfront in the back.
Shop Outdoor Living.

It was therefore especially important to Bill and Rachael that they preserve as many of the live oaks as possible, particularly those with 6- to 7-foot diameters. "Our goal was to build among the live oaks, and," she adds with delight,"we managed to save all of them."

The approach to the lot is very appealing, as it wanders through the small island community and passes by the Savannah Yacht Club. Yet, by locating the houses 400 feet from the roadway, Bill and Rachael were clearly opting for the water as the primary focal point for the residences.

Their plans included a dock for each house, because of the deepwater access, and swimming pools and spas just 25 feet from the water's edge. In fact, when construction actually began, they worked their way from the water forward by completing first the docks, then the pools, and then the houses themselves.

SIDE BY SIDE

For the two houses, Bill and Rachael chose plans that were very different from each other in style and size, then set about the process of customizing and enlarging them. "We were determined to make every space useful. No dead spaces. Every wall was to be functional."

Continuing to collaborate as construction on the houses began, this newly formed team of homebuilders would spend their evenings customizing the plans and their days working side by side onsite to transform their ideas into reality. "Every time I would dream something up, Bill would make it happen," Rachael says. "If necessary, he would adjust the framing. Framing is key in house building."

As construction progressed, it became apparent that another kind of team was forming between the two. And when Rachael and Bill decided to get married, their collaborative project took on a new dimension. They needed to decide which of the two houses they would make into their home — the 4,700-square foot Mediterranean or the 6,100-square foot Southern traditional.


Turkish limestone on both the floors and fireplace serves as a perfect complement. Shop Furnishings & Décor.

The decision turned out to be a relatively easy one. The layout of the Mediterranean and their plans for customizing it would ensure the balance between the coziness they wanted in their first home and their shared vision of "bringing the outside in."

A BALANCING ACT

Given the grace and charm of the setting, it was very important to the couple that they capitalize on their peaceful, riverside location. Their house plan, "The Caroline" by Sater Designs of Naples, FL, called for ample large windows and exterior doors that would fill the house with Georgian lowcountry light.

In addition to the living-dining, kitchen, and family rooms, which would face the water, Rachael and Bill made sure every room enjoyed a river view. "We can watch the dolphins playing, and that's so much fun. They swim in pods of at least two at a time."

By using some of the same finishing materials on both the interior and exterior, Bill and Rachael enhanced the feeling of uniformity between their home and its setting. They brought the smooth hardcoat stucco used on the exterior into the living spaces of the first floor, and extended the Turkish limestone of the living-dining room, entryway, kitchen, and family room onto the porches and verandas.

At the same time, however, the couple wanted a sense of coziness in their new home together, and that presented a challenge in light of the open flow of space on the first floor, particularly the substantial living-dining room area with its 22-foot ceiling. Rachael and Bill opted to use the relatively new technique of staining the plaster, which resulted in interesting color variations that helped to create the warm, older feeling they were seeking. Using the same technique on the exterior walls allowed them to seal the stucco against the elements, while the sienna finish complemented the orange-concrete barrel roof and added further Italian flair to the Mediterranean style. "Staining the stucco was somewhat risky, particularly because, with the variations in color, you lose control of the final results. But we are so pleased with the way it turned out. There really were no surprises. It came out just as we thought it would," Rachael reports.

ROOMS WITH A VIEW

For the living-dining room, Bill and Rachael chose 24" x 24" oversized squares of Turkish limestone, not only to finish the floor but also to make the 22-foot climb up the fireplace to meet the coffer ceiling that is tinged with a bluish teal cast. The continuity enhances the flow and feeling of openness created by the 12-pane arched set of windows.

"Specially designed wrought iron and the handmade crystal of the entryway chandelier are so typical of the Old World charm that is Savannah."

In choosing the room's furnishings, Rachael, who minored in interior design, selected colors consistent with the Mediterranean warmth they had created. She chose wrought iron vases that double as oversized candlesticks to flank the fireplace and complement the custom ironwork used throughout the house. She notes, "Specially designed wrought iron and the handmade crystal of the entryway chandelier are so typical of the Old World charm that is Savannah."

WEEKEND CHEFS

To support their interests in cooking, Bill and Rachael created two separate prep areas in the kitchen. "It's great for entertaining. We also floated an island in the middle so we could visit with our guests in the adjacent entertainment area while we continue our preparations," Rachael says.

The European cabinets are made of warm cherry, and the kitchen and family rooms, with numerous doors opening out to the pool and outdoor spa, are painted the color of honey to blend with the exterior of the home. The generous use of windows makes the separate breakfast room, also honey-colored, the perfect place to watch for any dolphins who may be out playing or enjoying an early-morning swim.

WATERFRONT LIVING

Both natives of Savannah, Rachael and Bill enjoy all the pleasures and recreational pursuits that waterfront living affords in the lowcountry of Georgia and the Carolinas — boating, crabbing, shrimping, and swimming. It's no wonder then, that they paid special attention when designing the pool and spa area that joins the house and the water's edge. The pool area is graced by a five-foot long "feature wall", from which a waterfall descends into the spa that leads into the pool. The cascading of water from element to element, as well as the wall itself, are highlights that Rachael and Bill designed together. To finish the area, they surrounded the pool and spa in 8" x 16" Egyptian travertine stone. The result is a haven where they can relax and enjoy "incredible sunsets" over the river at the end of a long day.

A PLACE APART

The 30' x 30' master bedroom overlooks its own private porch with a gas-fed fireplace. "It's a great place for reading," says Rachael, who particularly enjoys browsing through magazines looking for new ideas for building and furnishing.

From the bedroom, they enter a generous dressing closet crafted in cherry and custom-designed for functionality. Pocket doors in the dressing closet open onto the lush, secluded master bath. The same travertine stone that surrounds the pool and spa finishes the 6' x 8' shower, whose showerhead is 12" in diameter.

The oversized bathtub, with its surrounding towel rack, floats in the middle of the room and provides an especially luxurious feeling. At their request, a stream of water descends from the ceiling, creating a waterfall effect reminiscent of the one outside.

"Lots of people have dreams. And if I could say just one
thing to them it would be this: build your dream."

A WORD TO THE WISE

Though Rachael and Bill continue to maintain separate construction businesses, they enjoyed their collaborative housebuilding experience so much that they have recently purchased three additional pieces of island waterfront property. The couple is very encouraging of others, particularly women, who might be interested in learning more about housebuilding. "A lot of females make good builders; they just don't know it. They have ideas about what would be good — what they want — and they're good ideas," Rachael advises. "Lots of people have dreams. And if I could say just one thing to them it would be this: build your dream."

Special note: Rachael and Bill are so pleased to announce the birth of their new baby girl, Madison Lee DeLoach, who was born on February 10, 2006. They report that she is the only addition they have made to their home thus far.

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