HGTV has bestowed the top prize in its national 2016 Ultimate Outdoor Awards to a lush residential landscape project on one of the region’s exclusive barrier islands designed by David Young of DWY Landscape Architects. Thousands of voters also made it People’s Pick in the category of Love at First Sight.

The dramatic, modern two-story beach home, designed by Charleston, S.C. architect Jim Thomas, is part of an enclave of 15 homes along a narrow strip of land between the Gulf of Mexico and an Intracoastal lagoon. (The homeowners are “very private” and won’t allow the exact location to be named, Young says.)

“These owners have houses in several locations—the Midwest, Europe, here—and this was a competition of sorts to grab their attention and make them want to spend more time here,” says Young. 

With that in mind, the landscape architect created an entry evocative of the dreamiest tropical resorts by replanting several substantial, curvy coconut palms that were already on the site. Now “the coconut palms embrace you,” he says, as the homeowners and their guests approach the property.

Stacked-stone walls made of local limestone, planted with bromeliads and other epiphytes, flank the motorcourt, which itself is paved with limestone with zoysia grass ribbons planted between it, “playing off the horizontal screen walls of the home,” Young explains. A 6,000-gallom cistern system below the motor court gathers water that’s recycled for irrigation.

Since the home, like the others in the small enclave, was built right to the setback limits, screening for privacy was critical. Young chose Arica palms on one side of the home, and layered sea grapes and bamboo on the other.

“To be recognized nationally is a big deal; we’re thrilled,” says Young about the award. “And to have the support and the votes from the viewing public was really nice.”

HGTV is sending a crew down in mid-September to film the property and interview Young for a special that will air on the cable channel in October and November. Young will be billed as "Designer of the Month."

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