Story by Stephanie Wynalek

Photography by Josh Curry

 There’s a reason they call it the Idea House. Creative energy is everywhere inside Coastal Living’s latest masterpiece, located in Seawatch at SunsetHarbor. Like many others I’m sure, throughout my tour I couldn’t help asking myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The three-level home on the edge of Mercer Mill Creek manages to be both lavishly beautiful and environmentally efficient at the same time, and it showcases the coastal Carolina lifestyle in eye-catching detail. The cape-style house, designed by architect Sam Guidry and built by Mark Saunders Luxury Homes with interior design by Phillip Sides of Montgomery, Alabama, features bell-shaped roofs, expansive porches and a cupola.

 Nicole Hendrick, Idea Home Manager for Coastal Living, said Seawatch won the coveted spot after the magazine staff had watched development in Brunswick County for about 10 years. She described the development as “love at first sight” and praised its commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.

 In addition to three bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms, Guidry’s floor plan provides everything a homeowner could want and more, paying special attention to regional flair. Who wouldn’t want a professional-grade chef ’s kitchen, home office and recreation room? For accommodating guests, a loft on the second floor features generous custom built-in bunk beds, each with a whimsical lookout hole and shutters, and a large sleeping porch for additional sleeping and play space.

To fully enjoy the natural coastal ecosystem surrounding the property, the home has a large open terrace and deck with an outdoor kitchen and dining area in addition to several balconies. Oh, and don’t forget the wet bar, home elevator, kayak and canoe storage room and the optional space, which could be converted into a wine cellar or exercise studio to suit a future owner’s needs.

Each room has a distinctive feel, defined by bold colors, coastally influenced patterns and thoughtfully selected art and décor. Sides’ attention to detail and original style shine through because every space has been taken into consideration, whether it is a charming window seat tucked away in a corner or a delicate vanity placed inside a large walk-in closet. A few of the home’s other The Idea House’s utilities are creative and cutting-edge as well, design highlights include a one-of-a-kind salvaged wood dining table, a built-in headboard cornice in the master bedroom with custom crown molding, and an oversized lounge suspended from the ceiling in the sleeping porch.

I was most in awe of Sides’ clever use of a punchy, whimsical fabric as wallpaper in one room and repetition of the same fabric as a window treatment. The effect is a subtle, elegant dimension and a larger-looking space.

The Idea House’s utilities are creative and cutting-edge as well, including radiant-floor heating on each level and motion sensors in each bathroom for instant hot water. But the single most innovative element may be the rainwater harvesting irrigation system provided by Cape FearWater Gardens. Not only does the system harvest natural rainwater for irrigation and household use, it also feeds into a decorative circulating creek in the back yard. This green system conserves water through minimizing evaporation, and, provided there is adequate seasonal rain, it will be entirely self-sufficient and minimize public water use.

The most remarkable thing about the Coastal Living Idea House is the process that went into its creation: It was almost two years in the making since Seawatch was hand-picked to be the location. The house is a product of architecture, development and design working simultaneously with an editorial process and putting together a finished, fully furnished house on a deadline.

Sides’ interior design vision for the entire house was integrated into the floor plans even before construction began, and every phase of development had to be in sync with the magazine’s timeline in order for the finished home to be featured in the November issue of Coastal Living. In the end, the intent is to show the reader how so many ideas can be implemented in an actual, full-scale demonstration.

The Idea House is now for sale including all furnishings, most of which have been donated by Coastal Living’s national sponsors, such as Sunbrella, Bevolo, Agio, Delta, Valspar, Vanguard, J. Tribble and Stanley Furniture, among many others.

Mark Saunders Luxury Homes has designed several other theme homes in Seawatch, including the Conch Home, which won the 2008 Parade of Homes Diamond Award. The Idea House is open for public tours September 3 through November 29, Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Tickets cost $10 and proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

Sponsored by Wilmington Today