A Charleston Countryside Abode

Amid Kiawah River’s Sea Islands landscape, riverfront living takes on new meaning

For the past ten years, Megan and Randy Hendricks have loved visiting the Lowcountry. Randy’s job in waste management first brought him on business trips to Savannah and Charleston, but when winters back home in Pennsylvania took their toll, the couple decided to explore a part-time move down South. “We stumbled upon Kiawah River, and we liked what we saw,” Megan remembers. “The property is beautiful, we love the community and people, but most of all, we love the wildlife we get to see every day while walking on the paths by the river.”

Kiawah River offers two thousand acres of Sea Islands beauty just twenty miles from downtown Charleston. Here, the unspoiled view of the marsh takes center stage against the backdrop of a sustainably designed development. The work of some of the top architects in the Southeast, Kiawah River offers a blend of villas, cottages, and waterfront homes, all built in conscious harmony with the surrounding ecosystem.

An example of the island's signature Sea Islands architecture, designed by Collin Cope.

Farm-to-table living is at the center of this sun-dappled community, exemplifying its distinction as an agrihood. As a perk, residents are invited to participate in Kiawah River Farm’s Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program. A collaboration with local Johns Island farms, the CSA is run by Lowcountry Farm Conservation founder Missy Farkouh, offering residents not only access to the freshest locally grown foods, but a chance to support local growers. Included in this cooperative is Rosebank Farms, run by Sidi Limehouse, who often opens the land to his Kiawah River neighbors. “He invited everyone out to the farm for a Lowcountry boil recently,” Randy says. “He had two pickup trucks filled with oysters. It was great.”

But the community’s celebration of the natural world doesn’t end there. Kiawah River also boasts its own Goatery, where Megan is an active volunteer. Next to the farmhouse village, the resident herd munches grass with a collection of other creatures, including a flock of chickens, some Kunekune pigs, and miniature donkeys. The Goatery follows the practice of creating refugia, or holistic habitats for animals that avoid pesticides and harsh chemicals, creating a healthy and self-sustaining ecosystem. When it comes to the natural world, this is just another example of the symbiotic relationship Kiawah River promotes.

Megan and Randy Hendricks at home in Kiawah River.

This thriving environmental ethos extends to the community at Kiawah River as well. What the Hendrickses appreciate about their coastal home is the conviviality of their neighbors, and the sense of camaraderie the property fosters. “We love the social activities,” Megan says. The couple often find themselves at the Caribbean-inspired Spring House, the property’s waterfront swim and fitness facility. For cocktail hour, neighbors gather around outdoor fireplaces at the space, enhanced by a Junior Olympic–sized family pool, a full-service kitchen, and a shaded bar with poolside dining and programming. These casual get-togethers often lead to other invitations, says Randy, who recently joined a handful of residents for fishing one morning.

A welcoming atmosphere is woven into every aspect of Kiawah River, including the architecture itself for both turnkey and custom-built homes, with open floor plans, vaulted ceilings, and deep porches that encourage entertaining and time together. And for those looking to put their own mark on their property, the Kiawah River Builders Guild offers a referral roster of builders who understand the community’s vision, look, and feel, and can execute a buyer’s dreams while following a signature Sea Islands aesthetic.

At the Goatery.

The flavor of Johns Island and its rural heritage is echoed in every home, from wide, shady porches crafted to catch prevailing river breezes to screened-in porches made for sipping sweet tea on sleepy Sunday afternoons. “It’s low-key, relaxing, and comfortable,” Randy says of his second home. It’s also, he believes, a wise investment. The Hendrickses have witnessed the Lowcountry’s popularity grow since falling in love with the area a decade ago, and can see their own property’s value increase in real time. They believe the addition of Kiawah River’s burgeoning Dunlin resort by Auberge Resorts Collection is further confirmation that they made the right choice. Expected to open in 2024, the hotel will feature seventy-two “cottage-style” guest rooms and suites, nineteen villas, and a signature riverfront restaurant.

The Spring House swim and fitness club overlooks the Kiawah River

“That will be a nice addition,” says Randy. For now, the couple plan to enjoy their balmy winters together—spotting egrets, strolling the oak-lined paths, making new friends, and hosting their children when they too need a Southern escape. “Being able to walk on river paths, ride out into the outback, as we call it, fish whenever you want, or just enjoy nature,” Megan says. “That’s what makes Kiawah River a wonderful place to live.”

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