We all have our favorite holiday movies. In most of them, homes are an integral part of the film.

They epitomize that intangible something that make our hearts swell with holiday nostalgia – memories we have of family and loved ones during the season.

The “Home Alone” property sold for $1.5 million in 2012. In the suburbs of Chicago, it is a two-story Colonial style brick home. In “Christmas Vacation” a two-story home with seemingly endless rooms inside (and 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights), was constructed on a movie set. The classic white house with black shutters and large porch appears in the movie, “The Family Stone.” A large 1860s Colonial, it is located in Connecticut and its value is listed at over $3 million.

There was the drafty, huge Victorian in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” within the picturesque and fictional neighborhood of Bedford Falls. The “A Christmas Story” house located in Cleveland, Ohio, is now a tourist attraction. Built in 1895, someone had the forethought to restore the property in 2006. One can spend the night in it starting at $395 per night. It’s the home that keeps on giving, just like the movie.

Whatever your idea is of the perfect dwelling, what makes them so is that from the moment you walk in the door, it feels like home.

The season and the reasons for buying

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend nearly $720 billion dollars during the holidays. Though home buying isn’t factored into that figure, buying a home during the season has its advantages. There is less inventory and fewer industry experts (lenders, realtors, and inspectors) during this time than other busier periods. This may be advantageous to buyers according to the market, in terms of lower interest rates and faster closings. Sellers may be more motivated to sell quickly and that could mean a better price.

Over the river and through downtown

Harleston Village, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, borders the Ashley River, King, Calhoun and Broad Streets in downtown Charleston. It is near MUSC, the College of Charleston, Roper Hospital and primary schools.

“Harleston Village has always encompassed the ‘best of both worlds,’” said Josie Gould of AgentOwned Realty. “Characterized by quiet residential streets, friendly corner stores and local small businesses, it has both a cozy neighborhood feel and a central, urban location.”

Homes in Harleston Village begin at $500,000. The neighborhood began in the 1700s and it is a mixture of mansions, modern townhomes, condos and historic dwellings. Colonial Lake Park, referred to as “The Pond” by residents is perfect for afternoon strolls or jogging. The Wentworth Mansion is among its stately residents.

Gould lists a three-bedroom, two and-a-half bath home on 186 Wentworth Street for $1.15 million. The home is a mixture of historic Charleston single, craftsman style and modern renovations.

“The home has been reimagined to architecturally blend with old and new – both indoors and outdoors,” Gould said. “The renovated gourmet kitchen has large picture windows and views of the courtyard. Reclaimed wood from the Old Cigar Factory was repurposed as beams in the kitchen and bar area. Copper rain chain gutters and a rain barrel system are subtle and green features rarely found in historic homes. Meticulous maintenance, repurposed materials and thoughtful design make this the perfect home for anyone who wants to live the quintessential Charleston lifestyle in a classic and distinctive Charleston single.”

The home has 2,400 square feet and antique, wide-plank hardwoods run throughout.

“The convenient location, neighborhood amenities and community feel are all responsible for the growing and preserving popularity of Harleston Village,” Gould said.

Beyond luxury

South of Broad is one of Charleston’s most premier and beautiful neighborhoods. Mary Lou Wertz of Maison Real Estate lists a grand home near the Battery on 29 Legare Street. On one of the area’s largest lots and built in the 1800s, the home is known as the Reverend Paul Trapier Gervais House and lists for $12.995 million.

“South of Broad is one of the oldest areas of the peninsula,” Wertz said. “It is predominately residential, filled with antebellum homes. It’s home to Rainbow Row, the Battery and White Point Gardens. The current owners fell in love with Charleston and dreamed of raising their children here. Over the course of 14 years, they’ve created a loving home where scores of families have spent many occasions creating memories and new histories.”

Wertz said the home was built on a foundation that dates back to 1788. There was once a two-story brick building on the property which was home to the original Gaud School for Boys from 1906 to 1918.

Imagine decorating this 7,800 square foot home for the holidays.

“The Greek Revival home has been extensively renovated by the current owners,” said Wertz. “They blended historic elements with modern day amenities. The renovation included museum quality restoration of woodwork, moldings, floors, piazza and shutters. Modern day amenities include a three-car garage, pool and guest house, large mudroom, pet shower and hidden wine cellar.”

Space is sparse in some downtown gardens, but not on this property. It sits on a .68 acre lot, and in true Charleston-style graciousness, the gardens surrounding the home are lushly landscaped, with the added benefit of being on high ground. The property hasn’t been exposed to flooding due to storms in recent years.

“Legare Street is renowned for housing some of the grandest homes on the largest lots in downtown Charleston,” Wertz added. “This home on a double lot is nestled in a canopy of large live oaks.”

The historically significant property is the culmination of classic and chic and most certainly, one of Charleston’s most beautiful homes.

Through the woods and on the farm

Who doesn’t dream of a home within a farm-like setting among the oak trees?

Wando Farms is a gated waterfront community just north of Mount Pleasant. There are 14 homesites within the community nestled inside a vast 550 acre farm that is a permanent conservation easement. Once known as “Old Kiwi Farm” kiwis are still grown on the property. Co-owned by the 14 individual homeowners within, it has an equestrian center, shooting range, two stocked ponds and a hunt club. Residents have access to an organic farm, miles of pristine Lowcountry landscapes and a greenhouse managed by the South Carolina Aquarium.

“Wando Farms is the site of historic Kings Highway, the road that connected Charleston to Boston,” said Kristie Potts. “Some of the miles markers still remain.”

Kristie Potts and Kim Meyer of Meyer Potts Properties, Keller Williams Realty list a 5,885 square-foot estate on 4440 Wando Farms Road that sits on a 10-acre waterfront lot. Priced at $3.9 million, it has its own private dock.

“The homeowners meticulously planned and designed this home for over five years and it took two years to build,” Meyer said. “There are 17 sets of doors to the outside and all rooms have outside access and views. There are four signature oaks on the property with one a main focal point in the backyard.”

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Verandas, porches and courtyards decorate the exterior. The chef’s kitchen includes marble countertops, Venetian plaster walls, gas cooktop, two ovens, two dishwashers and a Sub-Zero wine cooler. A master suite on the main floor has its own laundry room. The en suite has a steam shower. Upstairs are three other bedrooms and another master suite. All have baths and balcony access. A second level screened-in porch extends the length of the home.

“The residents all desire to keep the land as natural as possible,” said Meyer. “One of the management’s objectives is wildlife enhancement for native wildlife species. A secondary objective is to improve timber productivity.”

A scene from the movie, “The Notebook,” was filmed in the community. Lots range in size from 3.5 to 11.5 acres and each are waterfront.

“Property owners can build what best meets their needs,” Potts said. “Roads are unpaved to the homes and the only requirement from the HOA is that homes be hidden from view – not seen from the road.”

According to Potts and Meyer, the owners arrived an August night in 2005, saw a full moon rising above the marsh and “knew at that point, it was where they wanted to be.”

On the beach and the spirit of giving

The season is about giving. A property on Kiawah Island at 165 Flyway Drive is not only a beautiful beach home, but the owner, Elizabeth Hazard and her organization, Building Charities, buys, sells and restores significant homes to benefit multiple nonprofits. Hazard founded the charity in honor of her mother Billie Hazard who loved fine architecture, interiors and volunteered for a variety of nonprofits throughout her life. Hazard wanted to honor her mother’s legacy by restoring properties while providing money to charities.

“The Building Charities’ founding philosophy is to create a warm and loving home and give back to the community,” said Hazard. “Building Charities buys these significant homes and flips them with half of the net proceeds going to charity. This is a win squared experience – money goes to charity, jobs are created in renovating and a home becomes a home filled with memories.”

Hazard purchased the home and said she is excited to work with Kiawah Island Real Estate (KIRE) to select a charity or charities that will benefit from the sale. In the past, Building Charities has given to Charleston Library Society, School of Building Arts, Charleston Collegiate and the Charleston Historical Society. Most of the other half goes to pay taxes and fund future projects. Hazard does not profit personally from the endeavor. In the past, one of the charity’s projects allocated funds to various charities – Chucktown Squash, Surfers for Strays, Breast Friends Brazil and UNICEF USA’s Mexico earthquake relief for children.

The property listed for $4.895 million has both marsh and ocean views. Designed to “embrace seacoast living on a grand scale” the home is steps away from the beach and a five-minute walk to Kiawah’s Island Beach Club. With tiers of terraces, porches and balconies, and a sundeck with ocean-facing pool and guesthouse, it’s one of the island’s most magnificent homes. In 2018, Hazard did a top-to-bottom renovation.

“It is a happy, light-filled house looking for the next family to create wonderful memories of summers at the beach,” she said. “I can’t think of a better place to be home for the holidays than Kiawah.”

Hazard said she believes that by restoring significant houses, she finds a new caretaker for the home every 25 to 50 years, saving the “heart and soul” of the home.

Whether home is a 1,000 square-foot condo or a large multimillion dollar mansion, there’s no place we’d rather be during the holidays. Though snapshots we capture stay inside our phones now instead of albums, the magic of the season is best experienced wherever it is we call home – no matter how far away we may roam.

Contact Brigitte Surette at bsurette@postandcourier.com.