Ageless Perfection

By Debra Williams | Photos by Johan Roetz/Vision Photography
Housetrends | December 2005/January 2006

Old World Charm is the inspiration for this masterpiece

Coming through the substantial iron gates and up the winding brick driveway of Tom and Jennifer Frederick’s magnificent estate, it is easy to see why the couple feels the best part of their home is indeed the glorious property that it rests upon.

“To us the most special part of living here is what surrounds us on all sides,” says Tom.  “I ended up finding this piece of property through my realtor and yet I lived just two streets away for years.”

After purchasing the 16-acre parcel of Lake Alice in 2000, the Fredericks spent nearly four years designing the grounds and the house based on the architectural ideas they had discovered in their many travels.  “I had pretty much a good mental picture of what I wanted the house to look like with the brick exterior and the Corinthian capitals and columns.  And fortunately Jennifer and I have the same taste,” says Tom.

The couple’s love and appreciation of high quality materials and dramatic design is evident from the moment the grand entryway is exposed.  A story unfolds of the couple’s life together as each room tells a story of their collecting and exploring over the years.  To listen to the Fredericks explain their treasures is to hear tales of extraordinary travels and passionate appreciation for art, antiques and architectural design.  The challenge for both the owners and their designers, Michael and Karen Campagna, was to bring to life the European vision they had for the home while infusing the spaces with the warmth and comfort that would be the most welcoming and never off-putting.

Reviving the past
Upon the first glance the Venetian plaster walls, the mailed-down Santos Mahogany floors, and the pre-casted inlaid ceilings soaring some 26 feet high are breathtakingly intimidating.  However, the true nature of Tom and Jennifer’s down-to-earth personalities and genuine graciousness instantly extinguishes and feeling of pretentiousness and replaces them with conviviality.

Given the size and proportions of the rooms, not to mention the substantial antique pieces that were meant for several of the spaces that make up the expansive residence, it was up to Karen to use strong textures, warm colors and woods to anchor each space into a livable area on a daily basis and to accommodate their entertaining needs.  The rooms are defined by the arches and columns and stand in place of solid walls, leaving the areas as open and lively as possible.  The open floor plan of the ground level allows the common areas to essentially spill out into the family room, or great room as they refer to it.  Large damask cover sofas flanked by leather club chairs are placed for ultimate viewing of the 65-inch television that slides out of the ceiling.  The two-story windows look out over the lush landscaping, pool and shimmering lake.

“We didn’t want to have this big house and not have a place that a large group of people could all comfortably sit down and watch a game together.  So we had to make this a big, massive room,” says Tom, again referring to their desire to live in an affable and relaxed home.

Surrounding the great room is the kitchen and breakfast room with full views of the lake and gardens.  The dark wood and creamy granite gives the smaller areas a feel of intimacy and coziness, and plays strikingly off against the rest of the living spaces that are encountered at the entrance of the home.  On either side of the two-story marble foyer, complete with a glorious brass chandelier, moldings, and inlaid and painted ceilings designed by Gino Caiazza, is the dining room to the right and the music room on the left.  A dramatic iron and marble staircase sweeps gracefully up from the foyer where a marvelous Faineza occasional table made in the 1876 and given as a gift from Italy to the United States for our centennial celebration, splendidly rests.  Tucked under the stairs where the ordinary coat closet was meant to be is yet another gem of the home–an exquisitely designed wine room encased with a molded iron and wood door, maximized for ultimate storage as well as charm.

The dining room was essentially created around two of the couple’s most beloved treasures.  An English harp, acquired from a dealer in Atlanta, is over 200 years old and one of only five in existence, and a splendid French walnut wall piece that was carved for a wealthy man of aristocratic lineage, depicts his family members in their element of daily life.  The piece is colossal in size and structure, and utterly engulfs the room with drama.  If this room evokes Lancelot, the music room quietly calls out to Marie Antoinette.  A striking grand piano, of which is beautifully played by the lady of the house, is surrounded by 18th century style paintings and furniture.

In a perfect twist to Tom and Jennifer’s lifestyle, the elegant music room sits just across the back hallway from the manly game room.  The design of the double wood doors came from a small village church in Western New York.  The walls are faux painted in a rich, deep red.  The brown tones of the furniture and fabrics set off the intricately carved black-felt pool table sitting below an early 1800s antique light fixture that was once gas-lit.  Handsome and masculine, this room is the ultimate sophisticate man’s fantasy.

The black walnut clock above the fireplace is from the early 1800s and came from a French banker’s office that most likely gave loans to farmers, and thus his trade is depicted in the intricate carvings surrounding the timepiece.  Jumping back into the 21st century Tom has outfitted his game room with flat screen televisions and full bar to entertain his friends and family.
“Most people would think that this is Tom’s preferred room, but after they moved in he told me his favorite room in the whole house was his master bathroom, partly because of its tremendous size, ” says Karen Campagna.  “He absolutely loves the shower with all of the jets and the steam and the whole design of the marble and tiles.”

The master bedroom, bath and closets are also on the first floor and span the width of the house so as to take advantage of the flourishing gardens and water views that encompass the home from every angle.  Strong, dark wood furniture and heavy silk draperies warm the couple’s room into a snug niche apart from the grandeur of the rest of the home.  The luxurious bath was installed with marble floors, countertops, maple cabinets and mouldings.  A large whirlpool tub and walk-in shower all have a view of the “invisible” television that is behind a mirror, only visible when turned on.

Planning ahead
As the only bedroom on the first floor is the master, Tom and Jennifer decided to put in an elevator to accommodate any guest or family member that might need the assistance.  A long, wide hallway overlooking the great room spans the length the second floor with four additional guest bedrooms and baths, Tom’s jaw-dropping, yet discriminatingly bravura mahogany inlaid office, and a full exercise room.  The bedrooms seem to be a place to store many of the collections they have acquired over the years and simply do not have room for anywhere else.  Their love of ornate and detailed furniture is evident throughout, and any guest would certainly feel like king for a day to inhabit one of these special rooms.

Not that they will be empty for very long, as Tom and Jennifer plan to fill their home and share their love with children very soon.

“It was our dream and our goal to build this house so that it would be here and be perfect for many, many years to come for ourselves, for our children and for our grandchildren,” Tom says with an unmistakable smile of someone who knows he has achieved his mission.

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