Park West, Mt Pleasant
Mount Pleasant, SC
2006 was a big year for Diane Lewis and Richard Ward. They were married in an impromptu ceremony at the Battery and moved their family into their new home on Beckenham Drive in Park West. It's the perfect location for them-one of the quietest and nicest neighborhoods in Park West, near excellent schools, shopping and all that Charleston has to offer.
"We moved here because of the kids," Diane told me. "The schools are nearby. ... everything is just right."
Diane Lewis traveled a lot before she settled in Mount Pleasant. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, only because there was no hospital in her hometown, she was raised in rural Mississippi. Somewhere along the way, she dropped her Southern accent, but her gracious home and warm manner hint that she is a Southern woman at heart.
Though Diane and her family have lived all over the United States - and enjoyed several years in London - they have put down deep roots in South Carolina. Arriving at her magnificent home on Beckenham Drive, built by Streamline Custom Homes, it's easy to see why.
A Lowcountry-style fountain greets visitors as they arrive, immediately establishing a mood of tranquility and peace. Diane's careful attention to detail assures that the feeling of serenity continues throughout the house.
With wonderful views of the marsh and deep water beyond, the main level of the home is open and airy and clearly made for entertaining. The kitchen is spacious and inviting, with a beautiful tile back splash behind the stove. Floors throughout are made of Australian cypress, adding warmth.
"I love the matte finish of the floors," Diane says.
She's right. High-gloss wood floors, so commonly seen in other South Carolina homes, might seem out of place here.
Diane explains that Streamline was building the home as a spec house but that they were very willing to make changes to accommodate her wishes.
"Luckily," she says, "we decided to buy early enough to make some design changes."
One of those alterations involved leaving out plans for an elevator and using the space for a very large, walk-in pantry. Another change, she points out, is in the master bathroom.
"I didn't like the tub where it was placed and had them put this tub here," Diane says. "I'm girly and I love the candles."
I can see by the candles of all sizes situated around the edge that this is a woman who enjoys luxuriating in the bath. And why not? Diane is a busy mother who talks about her children with great pride, but everyone needs a haven. The master bedroom carries out the theme; though expansive, it is cozy, and the view of the water is nothing short of spectacular.
"How amazing to wake up to this view every morning," I remark as we pause in the bedroom. She concurs.
The same attention to detail can be seen in the other bedrooms. Garrett, Diane's eight-year-old son wanted to live his favorite sport, so his room is decorated with a baseball theme; he is a student at Laurel Hill Primary. Kristin is 18 and attends Wando High and is looking forward to college. She loves art and music and her room reflects that passion through the displays of her work. Stepsons Alec and Maxwell visit often and their rooms are quickly taking on their personalities. Diane's oldest daughter, Stephanie, lives nearby in The Gates of Dunes West and works in pharmaceutical sales.
Finally, rounding out the household is Ellie Mae, the family Shih Tzu. The media room is the ideal spot to watch television and DVDs. Small but comfortable, the room is soundproofed so the surround sound doesn't disturb others in the house.
Upstairs, where normally there would be an attic, is the massage room. "I call this my Zen room," Diane confides, and I can see why. The area is finished, with access to storage, but in addition to the massage table, there is a little nook-a place to read, relax or just hide out for a bit. With all the traveling Diane has done, I couldn't help but wonder how she ended up in Mount Pleasant. She explains that, after living in London, she and her family were ready to settle down on the Carolina coast, believing it was an excellent area to raise children.
Will she stay in this wonderful house, I ask? For the moment, yes, she tells me before confiding that she has bought a four-acre lot in Sewee Preserve.
Diane likes that area because it is a little further out, toward Awendaw."I'm really a country girl," Diane laughs. "I like to have some land around me." She beams as she talks about her property at Sewee Preserve-with only 30 lots, it goes all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway. She isn't quite ready to move yet because "there are only two houses out there right now," and she feels that her current home in the Masonborough neighborhood is more suitable while Garrett, Maxwell and Alex are still young.
"I'd love to have a horse," she tells me. "While growing up, I always had horses and other animals around. I think I probably will build out there and I'll have Streamline build it for me." Diane and Richard love the land at Sewee Preserve, not only for the equestrian-friendly large lots but because she is dedicated to helping others. A farm on the property produces food that is distributed to the needy. Diane brightens as she talks about the farm and how wonderful it feels to help others. Most recently, she and her husband were volunteers with the Charleston Miracle League, a special needs baseball league that works with autistic children and those with Down's syndrome.
How did she get involved with the charity? "I saw a sign for the Charleston Miracle League, looking for volunteers," she explains, "and that was it." She assisted with fundraising, eventually becoming executive director of the organization. I'm not surprised when she tells me she was named Most Valuable Player. Diane would like to become involved with MUSC Children's Hospital but, in the meantime, she is volunteering at Garrett's school and just enjoying life at the water's edge. She's traveled enough to know that she is home at last-in Park West.