Home is where you build it

By Amy Diehl | Photos by John Roetz
Hometrends | July/August 2009 | Vol. 7, No. 3

Mike and Karen Campagna incorporate their favorite elements to make a perfect home.

Waterfront Home 1So what does a builder of custom, luxury homes build when he is building his own house? If the builders are Mike and Karen Campagna of Campagna Hoes, they build a comfortable yet elegant waterfront villa with amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico. “The lots are small and compact but the view is large,” Karen says of their gulf-view home situated in an older island community in Palm Harbor. This home is quite different from most of Campagnas custom built projects. “We’ve never built this floor plan before,” she says. “It’s pretty and it’s comfortable. It’s not as grand or elaborate as some of the homes we build, but it suits us.”

Making a house a home
Eight years ago, the Campagnas purchased an existing one-story home which they tore down and replaced.  Due to new building codes, the large ground floor space is not air-conditioned and serves as a garage and game room but is not considered part of the living space.  The real living takes place upstairs on the second and third floors of the 3,800-square-foot home.

In order to lessen the impact of the steep staircase up to the second story, Mike and Karen designed a “sunken” foyer to create a lower entry landing.  This space, tiled with multi-hued slate, offers just a peek of the breathtaking views encountered at the top of the steps.  A few steps up and all attention is diverted to the floor-to-ceiling walls of glass showcasing sparkling views of the Gulf and coastline just beyond.

Waterfront Home 1In addition to the water views, you can see nearby homes along the water and further on, the green vegetation of Caladisi Island.  “My husband angled the house so that we get a water view but we’re also facing the coast,” Karen says.  “What I like about it is that at night you get the lights on the docks and houses.”  Mike, an avid fisherman and boater, was born and raised in Clearwater and had always wanted to live on the water.  Now, all he has to do is walk out on his dock, hop in the boat and he’s fishing in minutes.

The first story of the home is decorated in a soothing blend of elegant browns, greens and gold colors.  Wood floors tie together the open floor plan of the formal living room and the dining room.  Gold silk curtains puddle to the floor making an elegant yet understated complement to the breathtaking views.  Adjacent to this area is a hardworking family office, lined with wooden built-in cabinets, family photos and mounted fish–souvenirs of Mike’s passion.

Adding personal taste
Karen is a certified interior designer who does all the interior design work for Campagna Homes, which was started in 1952 by Mike’s father and grandfather.  She was not so keen on the mounted fish but says Mike won on this item because he gave in on her ideas in other areas of the house.  Compromise is key to family harmony.

As with most homes these days, the kitchen and family room are the heart of the house.  Designed in soft umber colors, it features tawny gold granite countertops over maple cabinetry with a dark oak stain.  Viking appliances including a massive stove make this a true cook’s kitchen.  “We are always entertaining; Mike loves to cook.  I love to cook.  We have lots of people over all the time,” Karen says.  Add to that four cats and a dog, and this is a busy house.  The floors in the kitchen, 18-inch, honed travertine marble tiles, handle the traffic with ease.  “These floors are wonderful.  They are so easy to live with,” Karen says.  “I just mop them when they get dirty and I have them deep cleaned and sealed once a year.  They get this soft patina with age.”

Adjacent to the kitchen are a powder room and spacious laundry room, a temperature controlled wine closet (perfect for people who love to entertain) and two bedrooms, each with its own full bathroom, formerly used by the Campagnas’ now-grown daughters.

One of the special design features of this home is the handpainted murals used judiciously throughout.  Subtle clouds, “inspired by happiness,” Karen says, drift across the kitchen ceiling while an elegant, lifelike palm tree graces a wall in the family room.  “By having murals, you don’t have to have as much on the walls; less clutter,” Karen says.  The murals, painted by artist Steve Spathelf of Spat Splats culminate in a large, trompe l’oeil painting in the dining room of an Italian landscape.

One of Karen’s other favorite features are the Marla Davidson tiles she uses throughout the house.  The focal point of the stove backsplash is a Marla Davidson piece as are the elegant bronze fish tiles that swim along the walls of the downstairs powder room.  Other “Marla” tiles are  used to add unique accents to the bathrooms off the girls’ downstairs bedrooms.

The upstairs of this home is the Master suite, or better stated, Master retreat.  The spacious bedroom features soft shag carpeting (“don’t lose your earring in this room,” Karen laughs) and a comfortable reading nook.  The bathroom was kept simple but elegant with dark wood cabinets and white, polished marble tile on both the floor and counters, and a large, walk-in closet room complete with a center island.  But Karen’s favorite place is the balcony–this secluded spot is her place to escape.  “You’re in your own little world up here; it’s peaceful and quiet up here by the sky,” she says.

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