More than a neighborhood, community or riverside ramble, the award-winning Saluda River Club offers an amazing environment to call home.
By Katherine Pettit. Photos by Carter Wade
After Jenny Cunningham retired as City Administrator of West Columbia, she and her husband began to think about where to live next. When they visited Saluda River Club, it all fell into place.
“This is the second home we’ve owned here,” she said. “For the first house we thought we were settled, but then heard about The Vineyard, and we knew that we had found something special that really called out to us.”
Jenny moved to the Columbia area when she was 16 and has lived here ever since, including 37 years working in West Columbia. Her love affair with the Saluda River Club began as soon as they toured the community, and chose the Village District. The neighborhood was inviting and attractive, and they enjoyed their new home for five years, but when they discovered The Vineyard the couple decided it would put the last pieces of the retirement puzzle into place.
“As much as we loved the community pools, we wanted a private pool, which wasn’t possible where we lived,” Jenny said. “We liked the idea of low maintenance in a lock-and-go environment. And the neighborhood was so beautifully designed, we simply had to say ‘yes.’ “
That’s understandable. Developer Andy White drew his inspiration from the homes and lifestyle of California’s Napa Valley. The farmhouse-style houses were elegant and inviting. “There was a sense of style that made the homes look traditional yet inspired, which appealed to me,” Jenny said.
She also appreciated not having to move out of The Saluda River Club, where she had made friends and gotten involved in the year-round activities. The house they had purchased in the Village District was new, as was the new home in The Vineyard – a plus, for sure.
Before the house was built, they met with Alicia White Jones, the Architectural Exterior Colorist and Design expert. “Alicia was great in helping us make the best color and design element choices to fit our taste within their guidelines,” Jenny said. “All of the homes in The Vineyard are different but follow complementary designs. There is a cohesive look, but not a cookie-cutter look that you see in many communities.”
The house is just the right size as well. They chose the Calistoga design, and Lifestone Residential Builders did a “wonderful job with construction.”
Entering the foyer, the ceiling is high and lets in great natural light. To the left is a lovely Asian-styled chest in vibrant red. That pop of color sets the tone – bright and cheerful, but not overdone. A distressed mirror is in the alcove to the right, and may be one of the few elements with an older feel. There is a hall closet and half bath with a lovely Helen Sloan watercolor as its focal point. A guest room to the right has its own bath and generous closet.
The furniture throughout the house is a mixture of her pieces and new furnishings. There are no antiques. Jenny isn’t as fond of that look, but does like a traditional feel. It’s traditionally modern and very attractive, with clean lines and a minimalist feel. “I don’t want what everyone else has,” she explained. “I like a bit more unusual pieces and accents.”
The window treatments are new, chosen from fabrics available at Dan-Rich Furniture. “Mariellen Dennis, from Dan-Rich, was wonderful in helping me choose colors and accents,” Jenny said. Almost all of the new pieces came from that West Columbia store. And there are lift chairs which were purchased from Scott’s Furniture in Lexington. “They will provide a little assistance if needed,” she said, laughing.
Straight through the foyer, the living room isn’t large but feels quite spacious with its open concept living-kitchen-dining area. A gas fireplace adds a cozy feel and a bit of warmth on a chilly day. The furniture is mostly new, chosen for the new house with assistance from Mariellen. The kitchen counters are quartz as are all of the countertops in the bathrooms as well.
“I really like the clean look and low maintenance, especially with the open view into the living area,” she said. Some of shelves are open, while others are more traditional cabinets, perfect to highlight your treasures, yet hide away your more “serviceable” items. Her dining table is a bit more rustic, with a live edge that contrasts nicely with the polished look of the quartz. The appliances are all Jenn Air – top quality and easy on the eyes.
To the right of the living area is the master bedroom, with views of the backyard. A spacious bathroom and two closets provide ample privacy and storage.
Upstairs is the third bedroom, giving both grandsons private space when they come to visit, which is often. Walk-in storage makes out-of-season items and “I haven’t decided what to do with this table” decisions easily retrieved when desired. A sitting area at the top of the stairs is perfect for games or a private screening of a favorite television show or movie. The upstairs bath offers more convenience and privacy.
Carpet is used in the upstairs only. The downstairs features lovely porcelain tile floors with a wood grain look and area rugs to define spaces within the open floor design. The doors are painted Dorian Gray, a slightly darker gray than the walls, which is Repose Gray. They are Sherwin Williams colors that add a subtly effective design element.
And then there’s the backyard, accessible from the living room via glass panels which slide open to bring the outdoors in (or the indoors out, whichever your point of view.) All that glass could warm up the room in the summer, however, custom blinds are built into the doors and block the western sun whenever desired. And as beautiful as the inside is, the backyard adds more beauty and functionality.
First there’s a covered patio with chairs, tables and plants and a Traeger grill, Jenny’s pride and joy. Family and friends can sit and enjoy the view of the pool, enhanced by attractive plants and trees designed and planted by Midlands Landscaping, and over the fence, an almost endless view of woods and a ravine. It’s a protected area that will keep those natural views forever.
“This backyard retreat was designed long before the pandemic surfaced,” Jenny said. “When everything came to a halt, we had our own oasis and have thoroughly enjoyed our time out here.” She loves the rest of Saluda River Club as well, often taking a book down to one of the comfortable chairs by the river for rest and relaxation. Access is via one of the many walking trails. “It’s so safe and friendly here,” she said. Jenny is also a member of the bridge club and is on the Architectural Review Board, giving back to the community she loves. There are so many activities available that newcomers make new friends quickly and discover interests they never before imagined.
And there are the neighbors. “I love them all and we look out for one another,” she explained. The Chickawa Outdoor Center is a stunning gathering place, with its river views and grand fireplace. The pool features a large deck and a cozy fire pit for cooler evenings.
And there’s the location. Close to Lexington and Columbia and just minutes from Lake Murray, it’s defined by the Saluda River. Water, woods and carefully imaginative design. No wonder Jenny and others like her fell in love as soon as they discovered its award-winning style.