Living Design

Following the Tide: Hi/Lo House

Some projects begin with a grand vision or major design moment. Hi/Lo House began with a simple remark made by the client in a design meeting. The residence sits on the Herb River in Savannah, Ga., and when describing their family’s lifestyle and goals for the home, the client shared, “It’s unique in that our day is often derived not from a clock, but from the coming and going of the tides.”

Our design approach merges client and context into a cohesive concept. The consideration of people, place and concept is our guide for creating meaningful work. For this project especially, the site, and the sense of place it instills, was a significant force in the design.


The process of designing a custom home, fully tailored to the people, routines and memories it will hold, is complex. It’s a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and why we created the Emotional Timeline for our clients.

Knowing all of this, it’s an honor anytime we’re asked to design a home. This gratitude is multiplied when, after a move or life transition, a client hires us to work with them again.

The relationship with our Hi/Lo clients goes back a decade to their former home in Springfield, Mo. Through the design process for their previous residence, we learned about their love for and connection to Savannah. Even then, in a home 900+ miles away, this historic southern city made a mark on the design; we routed a map of Savannah into the back of a custom entertainment center.

A move to Savannah later, the story for Hi/Lo begins. The residence is home to a young, energetic family whose schedule is packed between school, extracurriculars and work.


The 100+-year-old home sits on a quintessential southern scene. Majestic oak, Georgian pine, and Southern moss trees grace the landscape, the mature canopies shading the site with picturesque drama. Across the road and a literal stone’s throw from the property is the Herb River, an 8-mile tidal river. The bulrush and mudflats are a dynamic aquatic scene, changing every 12 hours as the tide rises or falls up to 10 feet.


The drama of the tide is where our concept for Hi/Lo House began. We wanted to reflect the contrast of the high and low tide in concept and plan, while transforming this old Georgian home for modern living.

With the exception of a back patio addition, the original symmetry and materials of the exterior were kept intact. The renovation largely focused on the interior and our goal was to balance the sturdy, traditional exterior with a bit of whimsy inside the home. We began by re-organizing the floorplan to create an optimal layout, thinking through the program as a combination of “hi/lo” spaces defined by the intent to either socialize, or seek solitude.

Social zones like the main living room, kitchen, and dining are the “hi” part of the program. These spaces are situated toward the front of the house, looking out to the river. Our clients love to entertain, and these are the core zones for friends and family to gather.

The kitchen’s parabolic ceiling is a symbolic nod to the Herb River. Two existing attic dormers were repurposed to pull natural light into the home’s core. Set within the long, linear kitchen volume, the skylights provide visual and spatial relief to the overhead plane in the most active “hi” space of the house.

The “lo” spaces are more private and pushed to the back and sides of the home. These are quiet areas of rest and relaxation for the core family unit.

The home is airy, light and warm. Neutral materials, finishes, and furniture are welcoming backdrops to stunning light fixtures and a colorful collection of art. Custom furniture items from our fabrication shop are functional pieces of art themselves and anchor the spaces they occupy. In the primary closet, a large island made of black walnut, steel, and smoked glass serves double duty as a vanity and dresser. An egg-shaped bar credenza in the dining room was inspired by chickens that inhabited the front yard a few years ago.

A few “vintage” Hufft pieces can be found throughout the home, too – the dining table, media credenza, and desk in the study were all originally fabricated for the clients’ Springfield home.

Like the routines and day-to-day moments shared between our clients and their family, the experience of Hi/Lo House follows the tides.

See more project photos here.