Windows over the Wando

Posted On July 5, 2022

A sunny and open Daniel Island condo

By Leah Rhyne

Photos by Jim Somerset

On the shores of the Wando River in the heart of one of Charleston’s most coveted island communities stands The Waterfront Daniel Island. Imagined by East West Partners and designed by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, this brand-new collection of condominiums showcases the very best of island living. And within that collection you’ll find the home of Cathy Dezelon, a semi-retired furniture sales executive from New Jersey who realized her dreams of southern living were right there for the creating.

“With The Waterfront Daniel Island, our mission has been to create a mixed-use, Lowcountry community where the water’s edge provides activity and serenity for residents and neighbors,” says Harriette Calder, a project manager with East West Partners. To do this, they’ve built an enclave full of amenities that include a community dock, direct access to Daniel Island’s 25+ miles of hiking and cycling trails, a resort-style pool and a neighborhood coffee shop.

“Our vision for this project is really to establish an engaged community where residents live healthy, active lives—spending time on the waterfront and with each other—and find quiet comfort at home,” Calder said.

The architectural team was thoughtful in their use of the space and style.

“The design invites community within the neighborhood, celebrating social activities, dining and play,” says Nathan J. Schutte, AIA, LEED AP, CDT, a senior associate and corporate segment leader with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. “The water’s edge is celebrated throughout the development with view corridors and linear parks linking interior public spaces, pocket parks and amenities to the water’s edge.” There are interior courtyards between buildings, landscaped to suggest the intimacy of a downtown Charleston hidden garden. Schutte adds, “These unique spaces are a retreat for the residences and provide a transition to the private residences from the communal gathering areas.”

Dezelon happened upon The Waterfront via some marketing materials while house-hunting, and the timing was right.

“With Cathy having family on Daniel Island, she knew she wanted to be in the same area and preferred condo living as she enjoys the lock-and-leave lifestyle it affords,” says Calder. “Cathy was an early buyer and was able to put her personal touch on her residence.” 

And while the design and careful build drew Cathy Dezelon to The Waterfront, it was also the old real estate saying (“Location, location, location!”) that brought her to the Charleston-area in the first place.

“It was a no-brainer for me to move to the area,” Dezelon says. “My family started coming to Charleston over 25 years ago. My sister got her graduate degree in medicine here and she and her husband stayed. My parents moved to Daniel Island about 15 years ago. My son, daughter-in-law and grandson are in Mt. Pleasant.” 

Dezelon’s early-purchaser status allowed her to select a prime condo location: on the top floor of her building, it’s a corner unit with unfiltered views of the Wando River from three sides. The 2,300-square-foot unit has two bedrooms and a full primary suite. One of the main “personal touches” Dezelon made early on was to open the living space to maximize the views. “In the original layout, they’d carved a separate room out of the main living space, and we knocked down that wall,” she says. “It’s all one open space with the kitchen, dining room and two living areas. The openness is all worth it for the views.” 

Windows line the walls of the main living spaces and French doors open to a balcony that allows Dezelon a special treat in the evenings. Her building sits beside The Kingstide restaurant and bar which hosts live music on its rooftop. Dezelon sits on her balcony in the evenings, enjoying the free entertainment. She jokes, “I’m going to have the builder install a zip line from my balcony to the rooftop next door.”

Another personal touch from Dezelon evokes interior drama and practicality. Prior to moving in, she worked with the design team to extend the marble hearth up the wall to the ceiling. She also worked with the cabinetry team to install built-in shelves and a bar beside it. The result is striking—rich in color and texture, contemporary and utilitarian. 

“I love to entertain,” she says. “And I’m thrilled with how it came together.”

The kitchen, too, is made for entertaining. An island so big it might as well be a continent anchors the space while a gas range invites dreamy cooking projects on its six separate burners. The bright white cabinets and backsplash reflect and refract light, creating a beautiful, functional area, perfect for morning coffee or evening cocktails.

Contemporary, utilitarian and multinational are words that come to mind when viewing the remainder of the unit. A walk through it feels a bit like entering the World Showcase at Epcot Center. There are dozens of countries represented throughout the rooms, thanks to Dezelon’s years spent traveling the world while working for a multi-national furniture supply chain management company. A gold etagere of open shelves is filled with items from all over the world: a tea set from Milan, ceramics from Portugal and Mexico. Her style is whimsical and bright. Dezelon brought some of her furnishings from her home in New Jersey, where she lived most of her life. She and her sister filled in the gaps by traveling to High Point, North Carolina, to find unique, beautiful pieces that spoke to her modern style. 

In the primary suite, you’ll find the only place more dramatic than the views of the Wando River: a “wet room” in which the shower and bathtub are separated from the rest of the room, enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass. The white marble and tile make for a striking space, more spa than private home. Dezelon loves it.

And as for the East West Partners dream to create a community of connected families in their Waterfront Daniel Island properties, Dezelon believes they’ve done exactly that. A hidden benefit of a new build, she learned, is that everyone moves in around the same time. They were all looking to meet each other and find new friends.

“I’ve done lots of entertaining in these first six months. When there’s music at the bar next door, I’ll have people over. We sit on the balcony, drink wine and listen,” she says. “Everybody is friendly, down to earth. It was such a lovely surprise that we have a sense of community in the building. I didn’t expect it. I have very good friends here already and that’s made it that much nicer to live here.”

A difference she’s noted between her native New Jersey and Daniel Island is this: “No one comes empty handed to a party. I’ve thrown tons of small parties with very little effort. Recently, I met a new neighbor, and she said to me, ‘Are you the one who has all the parties?’ And I was happy to say yes.”

“I’m so happy to live here,” Dezelon says. She’s surrounded by new friends as well as her family. Although her father died last year at the esteemed age of 94, Dezelon loves riding her bike to her mother’s house any time she wants. 

“I never wanted to live on Daniel Island because it was too ‘perfect,’” she said. “But now I think it’s exactly perfect.”

Builder Resources

East West Partners – www.thewaterfrontdi.com

McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture – www.mcmillanpazdansmith.com