An enlightened developer and an engaged architect. Together. On an island. Braving the elements that could be their undoing or their redemption. The setup sounds more like a reality show than the recipe for HGTV’s 2013 Dream Home. The only thing dramatic about the LEED Platinum model home is the million-dollar marsh view. Inspired by Asian and traditional South Carolina low-country architecture, Christopher Rose Architects married clean and clutter-free design with Dyal Compass’s low-maintenance, high-efficiency ideals to become HGTV’s well-known Dream Home pick for 2013. Eschewing bell-and-whistle technology, one of the home’s greatest achievements lies in its minimalist, or Zen, construction. With a floor plan defined by flex rooms and a façade that bares all for elegance and ease of living, this year’s pick redefines coastal living.

The living room of the home has bamboo flooring and energy-efficient, dual-pane, tilt-and-turn windows.

The living room of the home has bamboo flooring and energy-efficient, dual-pane, tilt-and-turn windows.


Location Kiawah Island, SC
Size 3,000 ft²
Completed 2012
Program Single-family residence

Built to Outlast

“If Hurricane Sandy came to Indigo Park, it would be no big deal,” says local resident and the home’s developer, Candace Dyal. The 2013 HGTV Dream Home is prepared for anything coastal South Carolina might throw at it, including floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Set on scenic Kiawah Island, the Dyal Compass development is a lush parcel, dense with palms and pines that give the residence and its similarly stylish siblings a sense of retrospective permanence, but the steel-reinforced roof and Southern yellow pine supports ensure it’s not going anywhere—come seismic shocks or high water. More generally, the architecture firm chose to combat the humid climate with a zip wall system, which is composed of wood sheathing impregnated with a coating for maximum water-tightness. Topped off by recycled PVC imitation shake shingle siding, the home stays dry without losing its low-country charm.

Maximizing Space

The house puts to bed the notion that bigger is better. “We pride ourselves on very efficient floor plans that maximize function and minimize cost,” says Christopher Rose, owner of an eponymous architecture firm in John’s Island, South Carolina. Maximizing its 3,000-square-foot footprint, the layout uses an open floor plan for increased functionality and illumination (1). The original design included an elevator, but at HGTV’s request, that space was converted to a seating alcove on the first floor and a flex space in the loft big enough to serve as a fourth bedroom, TV room, office, or art studio (2). “We wanted to emphasize the downsizing of people’s lives,” Dyal says. “That’s the trend right now because of the recession and second-time home buyers not needing 7,000-square-foot houses anymore. We were able to demonstrate that if you have the right floor plan, you can live quite comfortably.”

The ceiling trusses, which were carefully placed to not block the outdoor views, are made of Southern yellow pine.

The ceiling trusses, which were carefully placed to not block the outdoor views, are made of Southern yellow pine.


Developer Dyal Compass
Architect Christopher Rose Architects
General Contractor Royal Indigo Construction

Unique Materials, Smart Siting

Windows and French doors that line the walls of the first floor are integral to the home’s passive solar design, which lets in the sun’s warmth and harnesses it in heat-trapping materials such as the JM Spider foam insulation sprayed in-between the walls (3). The home’s strategic positioning also maximizes the cooling benefits of crosswinds, reducing the strain on the admittedly super-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system. Adding to the home’s carbon-cutting measures are panelized walls, which were constructed off-site to minimize waste. Top it off with Energy Star appliances, and the HGTV Dream Home boasts a carbon footprint close to zero. “We wanted to raise the bar,” Rose says of the home’s LEED Platinum certification. “In my 30 years of practice, I’ve been using many of the standards set by the USGBC. LEED certification is calling attention to them and making people more aware of these practices.”


Certification LEED Platinum
HVAC Geothermal heating and air conditioning
Materials Zip roof and walls, locally sourced heavy timber, enhanced permeable concrete driveway, bamboo floors, recycled content PVC siding and trim
Envelope Panelized wall construction
Transportation Electric-vehicle charging station

Combining Aesthetics

Although the natural landscape of Indigo Park’s marsh and three acres of preserved park space are stunning in their own right, the home combines beauty with brawn to make the weather-tough house an artistic achievement as well. Exposed fasteners that secure the piers and supports contribute to the home’s structural stability and add a stripped-down aesthetic that harkens Zen influences, Rose says. Wooden trusses complement the pine timbers and add a visual element to high ceilings and represent the strength of South Carolina. In the master bathroom, frosted glass partitions and a stone wet column mounted with the rain showerhead create a blissful experience that brings the beach and the spa into the home.