So many of us worry about resale when making decisions about our homes. We spend, possibly, too much time thinking about how many bedrooms the next owners might want, what color selections are neutral enough, or whether dining rooms will be in or out when it’s time to sell.
But that wasn’t the case when Rick and Tonia Donnini built their new home. The choices they made were based on exactly what would serve their needs. As a result, their 3,000-square-foot, two bedroom, one-floor home reflects their lifestyle beautifully.
WANTING TO SIMPLIFY
The decision to forego a basement was an easy one for the couple. “We didn’t care about cheap space, we wanted simple,” says Rick.
The couple’s previous 6,000-square-foot house had a pool outside and a walkout basement. “After our kids left, we mainly lived on one floor,” Tonia says. “We hardly ever went downstairs—not to use the pool table, the bar or the theater.”
And as far as the two bedrooms go…the original floor plans called for a third bedroom, but the decision was made to turn that into a sunroom/sitting area. There is a spacious guest room with an ensuite bath available for overnight company. But one of the couple’s sons, Ryan, lives just a mile or so away with his wife Kelsey and their children, three-year-old Ava and two-year-old Collin. The couple’s other son, Connor, lives in Atlanta with his wife Madison, who has family in the Centerville area, so they have options when it comes to accommodations.
So, a third bedroom and a basement are what they didn’t include in their plans. Here is what they did include:
Let’s start in the back yard. To call it a yard is a bit of a misnomer. While there is a generous strip of grass back there, an expansive 17-by-40-foot pool dominates the space. An outdoor kitchen stands off to the side, ready to serve up friends and family and a four-hole putting green is placed on the other side of a small slope. Both Rick and Tonia are avid golfers, and this space is used to perfect their game as well as introduce their young grandchildren to the sport.
“If we didn’t light things properly, you couldn’t really appreciate them.”-Diane Hanson
Out here, a high-tech sound system which includes nine directional speakers and a subwoofer was designed and installed by Troy Hanson and the team at Hanson Audio Video. The speakers are positioned so that neighbors can’t hear the couple’s music or television. Troy says the goal of the system is to “cover the area with extreme saturation to prevent hot spots or fading.” Speakers are placed around the pool area so that the sound cascades toward the back of the house, rather than having speakers mounted on the back of the house and cascading out toward the neighbors.
“We’ve had friends pull up to the house for a party and think we weren’t home,” Rick says. “They couldn’t hear the music until they made it back to the pool.”
ONE FLOOR LIVING
While the activity often centers on the backyard attractions—the pool is heated and often used from April to November the inside of the home is designed for easy living as well.
“Everything is laid out exactly the way we wanted it,” Tonia says.
The Donninis worked with interior designer Diane Hanson to finalize the layout of the home, the material selections, and the furnishings.
“Diane is a godsend. We have been working with her for over 30 years,” Rick says. “She was a great influence. She helped us filter through our decisions to integrate them into the overall design…which ultimately saved us money.”
One challenge for the designer was to take a space that was big and open and make it inviting. Area rugs, furniture groupings, artwork and lighting were carefully selected and placed to create smaller spaces within the larger space. And, since the main living areas are exposed to each other, Diane says it was important to select complementary light fixtures.
“Lighting is a very important part of the process. If a room is not properly lighted, it doesn’t come off as well as it could,” she says. “Rick and Tonia have a lot of great art and beautiful furnishings. If we didn’t light things properly, you couldn’t really appreciate them.”
TVs, lighting, streaming services, garage doors, music, locks and much more are controlled via a Control4 System installed by Hanson Audio Video. This system, Troy says, “controls the entire house with one simple, kindergarten-level app.”
There are a few areas in the home that garnered a bit of extra attention from certain members of the team. For example, when it came to the kitchen’s design, Tonia points to her husband and says, “That’s all him.”
Rick, who is the cook in the family, wanted space to prep on both sides of the sink. “I’m not walking all across the kitchen. Everything is within easy reach,” he says. “It’s a perfect blend of function and design.”
Nearby is a beautiful live-edge elm table handmade by Ron and Tom Dement of New Life Forestry of Ohio. The bench has frosted epoxy-filled inclusions in its edges to add both comfort and style.
Farther along the back of the home stands a half wall with the see-through fireplace that separates the sunroom from the main living areas. The wall was Tonia’s idea and got a stamp of approval from Diane. A large, walk-in closet off this room houses a collection of toys for the grandkids. Weekend sleepovers with “TT” and “Poppy” are a regular occurrence.
“We love having them here. Grandkids are the best,” Tonia says. “They want to be in the pool all the time.”
And should they need to run from the pool into the house to grab a snack or use the restroom, luxury vinyl planking on the floors aren’t bothered by the water.
Other low maintenance, kid-friendly features include assorted leather chairs, sofas and ottomans the couple purchased from Bova. “If someone spills something, it wipes up,” Tonia says. “Bova has amazing furniture that lasts forever.”
Outside, the plants are all trees, shrubs and perennials, with no annuals in the bunch. The couple wanted low maintenance landscaping—there is no mulch anywhere.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Fortunately, construction on the home wrapped up in December of 2019, so the pandemic did not negatively impact the process. In fact, the Donnini’s are incredibly positive about their new home and the whole experience.
The builder, Associate Construction, was excellent to work with. “Every single contractor was top notch,” Rick says. “We would work with them all again.”
But for the distant future, the couple has no plans of moving anywhere else. Thanks to the wide-open floor plan, this home will accommodate aging-in-place beautifully. Plus, they are fans of the Greater Dayton lifestyle.
Rick, who is originally from New Mexico says, “A lot of people don’t know how good they have it here. It’s relatively inexpensive and there’s not a lot of traffic. The people here are decent, laid back. We love the Midwest!”
RESOURCES Builder Associate Construction; Interior design Diane Hanson, Choice Consultant; Landscape design Greenpro Services, Inc.; Furniture Bova Contemporary Furniture; Flooring Innovative Floors and Design; Windows and doors Andersen; Fireplace Dayton Fireplace Systems; Rugs The Rug Gallery; Kitchen cabinetry and living room shelving Select Kitchen Design; Kitchen countertops and backsplash Cambria; Appliances Bosch from Custom Distributors, Inc.; Table New Life Forestry of Ohio; Bathroom countertop Cambria; Glass pebbles by Tim McFadden from Gallery Veronique; Indoor/outdoor sound system, TVs, speakers, Control4 System Hanson Audio Video; Stones and pavers in pool area Groundscape; Irrigation Centerville Landscape and Irrigation; Outdoor furniture Watson’s; Pool, electric cover and lighting Buckeye Pools; Brick Snyder Brick & Block; Brick mason De La Rosa Masonry; Electric Stoutenborough Electric; HVAC Outstanding Heating & Cooling; Plumbing Integrity Plumbing Solutions; Roofing Weatherguard Roofing & Restoration; Gutters Hans Huf Home Improvement Co.
Article by Karen Bradner | Photos by Kelly Ann Photography
Article originally appeared in September 2022