Mother Earth Living


The House of Eight Porches: A South Carolina Beach Home

A Southern beach house eight miles from Charleston becomes an eco-friendly home away from home.



The Yost house is designed for indoor/outdoor living, with porches on the front, back, and corners of the house that provide outdoor living space and permit windows and doors to be left open for constant access to island breezes and the sound of birds, rustling trees, and crashing waves.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Porch-sitting is one of the favorite pastimes of all members of the Yost family, whether Lottie and Robin look for a quiet place to read or their parents enjoy a cup of coffee while listening to morning birdsong.
The 32 by 20 foot living room and kitchen area has an open plan that creates a sense of togetherness for the family. Simply decorated with functional furnishings, it provides a favorite spot for reading, playing games, or sitting and cloud watching. The long island dividing the kitchen from the living space is a perfect place for casual family meals and for spreading a buffet for larger parties.
Rives Yost wanted a beach house with plentiful porches from which to enjoy the wild island setting. Porches, including this one off of a bedroom, open off every room, providing a perfect perch for any time of day or night.
An asymmetrical deck and bridge zigzags around the live oak trees that are protected by the strict environmental regulations protecting Dewees Island’s natural resources. The bridge leads to an open-air pavilion that stands on a small rise surrounded by wetland. From here, the Yost family enjoys watching the many bird species that populate the island’s densely grown landscape.
‰ Lounge chairs that double as outdoor beds furnish screened porches that open off the bedrooms. These multi-use porches and furnishings were inspired by traditional sleeping porches popular in southern beach houses before the days of air conditioning.
A screened porch devoted solely to clotheslines that opens off the laundry room was a special request of Rives, who considers automatic clothes dryers a waste of electricity, especially in a breezy beach climate.
The Yost’s dining room has its own porch that serves as a plein-air dining room on pleasant days. The table is actually made of two matching pieces that can be pushed together for large meals or divided between the dining room and porch.
The Yost house is designed for indoor/outdoor living, with porches on the front, back, and corners of the house that provide outdoor living space and permit windows and doors to be left open for constant access to island breezes and the sound of birds, rustling trees, and crashing waves.
The Yost house is designed for indoor/outdoor living, with porches on the front, back, and corners of the house that provide outdoor living space and permit windows and doors to be left open for constant access to island breezes and the sound of birds, rustling trees, and crashing waves.
Transparency is one of the reigning principals of the house—anyone in the dining room can look through plate glass windows into the living room, out through the trees that separate the house from the beach, or down into a porch opening off one of the bedrooms below.
The Yost house is designed for indoor/outdoor living, with porches on the front, back, and corners of the house that provide outdoor living space and permit windows and doors to be left open for constant access to island breezes and the sound of birds, rustling trees, and crashing waves.
Illustrations by Gayle Ford
Kitchen cabinets with glass sides (viewed from the central staircase) help maintain a sense of unobstructed transparency and ease the flow of light throughout the house.





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