A Jewel in the Crown
If you are obsessed with HGTV, you should certainly be familiar with Mike Holmes of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Inspection.” His mantra when fixing other’s mistakes is to “make it right,” but what he really wants to see is that something has been done right in the first place. I think Holmes would be pleased with this 12,000-square-foot house built by W.V. deStefano Homes with plenty of input from the homeowners.
When speaking with both parties, the words “do it right” came up often and with great emphasis. That is because quality was extremely important in this project, not just budget and time frame. From the barn to the house itself to the outdoor living space, no detail was left out, no decision was taken lightly and no expense was spared. The result is a jewel in the crown of everyone involved.
The fateful meeting
Dan deStefano, sales and marketing director for W.V. deStefano Homes, shares a funny story that drew the homeowners’ attention to the family-owned company. A couple of years back, one of the homeowners met Steve deStefano, Dan’s father, while he happened to be power-washing a driveway of one of his HOMEARAMA® houses in River’s Bend. “After talking with him, I really liked Steve,” says the homeowner. “He took the time to talk to me and answer some questions, and I knew at the time when we were ready to build the house of our dreams that it would be deStefano that I would choose to make this happen.”
Fast forward to 2008, the homeowners had chosen a home site that they loved and were getting ready to close on the property, but knew prior to closing that it would be prudent to select the builder to ensure that the site was not going to pose any major problems. There was no second guessing on the homeowners’ part as to whom they were going to choose for their builder. “We called him (Steve deStefano) on a Friday, and he happened to be in the office. We wanted to meet with him and have him take a look at the lot. We of course wanted to move on it immediately and asked if he was available to meet at the site that next morning and sure enough, he made it happen. We met him at the site Saturday morning and conveyed to him of our desire to build the perfect Tuscan-style villa that would accommodate a family of two parents, four children and six dogs,” says one homeowner. After a multitude of meetings with the builder and Kenneth R. Bowerman Architects, the hands-on homeowners (or “type A personalities” as they refer to themselves) and the builder were ready to break ground. The massive project took well over a year to finish, and boy what a finish!
“We went to the site almost every day,” say the homeowners. “We really were hurry scurry until framing.” Although one of the homeowners had built a home previously, she had not tackled anything of this scale. “I did not realize the amount of detail and time involved, but we had a great time pulling it all together. What was so amazing was seeing it all come to life and knowing that we were instrumental in choosing every material and detail going into the house.”
In order for that visual to be realized, the homeowners scoured bookstores, collecting an array of books on architecture, then meticulously cut and pasted into a binder those various examples of design elements they enjoyed.
The element of design compromise
Since they knew what they liked, the homeowners decided to serve as their own interior designers. One likes Mission-style furnishings, while the other prefers antiques, so their compromise was to go with a more traditional furniture selection from stores such as Henredon and Arhaus. “In being our own designers, we did not slow down the project at all, which had been a concern to all involved,” says the homeowner.
When it came to decision time on everything from the granite for the countertops to backsplashes, from the sinks to the wood floors, the couple worked as a team on most elements. However, when having to make more than one choice in any given time period, one homeowner tackled things like the brick color, stonework and roof shingles, while the other picked the paint colors. Even the most minute details, such as the vanity with slate counter and copper sink, and matching slate flooring for the barn bathroom was painstakingly talked over. Kitchen cabinet handles, knobs, light switches—everything you could imagine—had to be considered for this custom home. The glass doors in the study that are almost two inches thick had to be singled out, and even the outdoor fencing and columns were given special attention.
The homeowners did rely on the expertise of people like Kate Demske of Solid Ground Studio, a blacksmith who forged the rather challenging stair railing out of steel, bronze, mica and copper. Gary Lord was the faux painter of choice and even won an award for his work in the house. According to the homeowners, the landscaping company, Pinecrest Nursery, was outstanding as well. Euna Williams, who previously worked with the homeowners on their cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia, was selected to create all the window treatments and bed ensembles for the house. “She nailed it every single time, in style and color, without even being present in the same city,” rave the homeowners.
The lighting allowance for the house was only $25,000; however, all told the actual budget ballooned to around $110,000, which included a builder’s discount! This did not deter the homeowners from selecting the lighting in the house that they felt fit the best. “The lighting is phenomenal,” beam the homeowners. “When you walk through the house, the lighting really pulls everything together.”
To give credit where credit is due, the homeowners stressed numerous times that even though they picked all of the selections, the house would not be what it is without Rocky deStefano, co-owner of W.V. deStefano Homes, and his crew.
“We are known for our woodworking,” says Dan deStefano, “and the homeowner let us design a lot of high-end details. It was very fulfilling to do a true Tuscan home and do it on such a large scale. We were able to do things right and weren’t limited in design or budget. This project showcases our talents and abilities in conjunction with the homeowners.” In fact, when asked what the favorite feature of the house is, one of the homeowners immediately said the wood and plank ceilings.
The installation of the outdoor entertaining space, encompassing the pool and extra seating area, was definitely a challenge, share the homeowners. From extending the pool 10 feet and dropping it two feet to the concrete work, the pool project did not run nearly as smoothly as the rest of the construction. However, the homeowners could not be happier with the results. “The pool is stunning. We signed up for every bell and whistle there was like the waterfall, infinity edge, beach entry and bubblers, all of which not only the kids enjoy, but the adults absolutely love!” they say.
The idea when first designing the house was to have ample room for entertaining, from the
largest galas to the modest dinner party. “We had a basketball party for our third grader’s team and the parents went crazy over the house,” says the homeowner. “My sister says, ‘Every time I come over, there is something I hadn’t noticed.’ People also love the doors and arches in the house.”
The homeowners chuckle when thinking about the wine and theater rooms in the house, because those rooms are not often used by them. “When we do go into the theater room, we usually fall asleep in there. Our life is just crazy busy, but we would not trade it in for anything,” they say. “We have worked hard to have what we have. This house was a team effort and we absolutely love it.”
Designers: Homeowners; Architect: Kenneth R. Bowerman Architects, Inc.; Builder: W.V. deStefano Homes, LLC; Flooring: Kemper Tile; Montgomery Hardwood Flooring; Cabinetry and beams: Miami Woodworking; Granite countertops: Take It For Granite; Window treatments and bedding ensembles: Bluegrass Interiors, Euna Williams; Kitchen backsplash: Cut glass, Kemper Tile; Tile installers: DB Ceramic Tile; Kitchen sinks: Norwood Hardware; Keidel Supply Co.; Faucets: Newport Brass; Appliances: Asko dishwasher; Wolf cooktop and oven; Sub-Zero refrigerator; all from Custom Distributors; Bathroom sink: Copper infused in glass, Norwood Hardware; Lighting: Fine Arts, Central Lighting; Wall treatments: Gary Lord; Art: Gallery Veronique; Furniture: Henredon; Arhaus; Accessories: Botanica; Home theatre: Sound Security; Landscaping, fountain: Pinecrest Nursery; Windows: Pella; Doors: Distinctive Doors; Interior stonework and fireplaces: Brick Tec; Closets and shower doors: Basco; Swimming pool: Shehan Pools; Front gate: Eads Fence Co.; Fencing: Mills Fence; Stair railing: Steel, bronze, mica, copper by Kate Demske, Solid Ground Studio; Porch screens: Screeneze; Concrete work: Tri-State Concrete; Retaining walls: Shay Masonry