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Developer Test Drives New Concept: Turnkey, Luxury One-Bedroom Bungalows

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Developer Test Drives New Concept: Turnkey, Luxury One-Bedroom Bungalows

Designing and building the award-winning Bungalows—508-square-foot, one-bedroom luxury homes—was a risk The Beach Company opted to take … and it paid off

By Michele Lerner May 1, 2023
The Bungalows along the Kiawah River in South Carolina won a 2022 BALA platinum award
The Bungalows—11 one-bedroom homes nestled alongside the Kiawah River—are zoned for short-term rental use and are located adjacent to community amenities. | Photos: Keen Eye Marketing

Whether it’s a weekend retreat, a place to chill out for a midweek break, or even a tempting work-from-home setup with a water view, the small but sumptuous Bungalows at Kiawah River, near Charleston, S.C., offer buyers a turnkey option akin to a luxury hotel suite—one that's also an investment that can generate rental income.

“From a development standpoint, we saw this small parcel of waterfront land as a great opportunity to do a test drive on an unusual proposition,” says Chris Drury, director of sales at Kiawah River for The Beach Company, the project’s Charleston-based developer. “It’s not typical to build a one-bedroom house for sale, which makes it a little risky. But all 11 bungalows sold out before they were built, so clearly the buyers saw the value in owning a weekend waterfront home.”

Project Specs: The Bungalows

Location: Charleston, S.C.
Size: 508 square feet
Lot size: 2,400 to 2,700 square feet
Architect: Heather A. Wilson Architect, Charleston, S.C.
Builder: Phillip Smith General Contractor, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
Developer: The Beach Company, Charleston
Interior designer: Amanda Lindroth, Charleston
Landscape architect: The Beach Company
Photos: Keen Eye Marketing, Folly Beach, S.C.

The Bungalows in South Carolina front elevations
Perched 12 feet above ground level for protection from flooding, the waterfront bungalows at Kiawah River enjoy an enhanced water view.
Exteriors of The Bungalows, BALA award-winning cottages in South Carolina
The identical bungalows require minimal maintenance and have standing-seam metal roofs, fiber-cement siding, and low-maintenance landscaping cared for by the community.


Compact Size, High-End Living by the Water

Kiawah River, a 2,000-acre new community with 20 miles of shoreline about 20 minutes from historic Charleston, will eventually have 1,300 to 1,500 homes. Approximately 150 single-family homes have been built so far and are primarily permanent residences.

“This little section of Kiawah River is zoned for short-term rentals, so the homes are designed to be perfect for two or three-night stays,” Drury says. “These are high-end homes, sold fully furnished. A designated broker handles the short-term rentals, so the owners just collect the income.”

The homes all face south with views of the river and Kiawah Island. They’re located adjacent to the water for quick access by boat or kayak and next to the swim and fitness facility, which also hosts weekly happy hours.

Kitchen in the luxury one-bedroom Bungalows in SC.
The compact cottages, designed as weekend homes and for short-term rentals, include a minimal but functional kitchen well suited for preparing light meals.


Interior of the one-bedroom luxury Bungalows in South Carolina.
The Bungalows come fully furnished with a low-country coastal vibe and with optimized storage in every nook.
Bedroom in the one-bedroom luxury Bungalows in South Carolina
Vaulted ceilings, an open floor plan, and a light color palette help these 500-square-foot cottages feel larger than their actual space.

Each bungalow is elevated 12 feet above ground for flood protection, which also provides the benefit of a maximized water view along with space for a garage and an outdoor shower. The bungalows have 500 square feet of interior space, plus 300 square feet of covered porches. The open floor plan includes a small kitchen and dining and living area, and there’s a central bedroom and a luxury bathroom with a walk-in shower and a freestanding tub.

Front porch of The Bungalows in South Carolina
Every bungalow at Kiawah River features a water view from a covered porch as well as from the indoor living space.
Landscape design for The Bungalows 2022 BALA winner
Low-maintenance landscaping is key for the 11 bungalows, which are designed for weekend use and short-term rentals.

Bungalow Living With Award-Winning Design

The project earned a Platinum award in the National Association of Home Builders’ 2022 Best in American Living Awards’ Single Family Production category, garnering praise from the judges for its style, use of space, and land use. The market seems to agree.

“Each home is designed almost like a high-end hotel room, which we discovered is something people want,” Drury says. After initially selling the homes for $650,000 to $750,000, he’s anticipating resale price tags estimated at $1 million … that is, if any of the owners wanted to sell. “Many of the short-term visitors ask to buy one, so we’re designing some two-bedroom bungalows and then will likely build some more one-bedrooms, too.”

Michele Lerner is an award-winning real estate journalist in the Washington, D.C., area.


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