Truly Tuscan

By Amy Diehl | Photos by Johan Roetz/Vision Photograhpy
Housetrends | October/November 2006

When David and Victoria Giorgione moved to the Tampa Bay area from New York State, it was supposed to be a short-term gig. “We came down here, figured we’d stay for a year, maybe two years, and head back. Now here we are twelve years later,” David says with a sweeping gesture to the home in which he sits.

And what a home it is! The Giorgiones have been in their 7,600-square-foot home for two years and they are still tweaking it here and there to suit their needs. As the home for a busy family with three growing children racing from ages 7 to 18, this house is a busy place.

The Giorgiones want a Mediterranean-style home and they had very specific ideas of what they wanted. They had started working with another builder, but the plans just didn’t seem to fit what they were looking for. That is when they found architect Him Ludwig and Campagna Homes. “We met up with Jim, started working with him, and he took us as a client to Campagna,” David Says. “jim is a great architect. He had a vision. He was into a true Tuscan design on this project.”

For that ‘aged’ appearance…
Even the littlest detail was not overlooked. Details like rounded corners on the exterior patio walls. Details like the texture of the exterior plaster. “Jim wanted an even further distressed look. He made us take sticks off an oak tree and kit the walls with them to get the right affect,” laughs Campagna.

The grand entrance foyer features marble floors and an elegant staircase curving up to the second floor. Faux-finished walls and ornate, curling wrought iron balustrades add to the “old-world” feel of this home. Marble risers on the staircase are a unique touch. Another unique feature is the custom-made front door. “The front door is interesting,” Campagna says. “it is an oversized door in both height and width with there hinges and glass all the way around it. Very few companies could make something like this and it took quite a while.” This handsome wood door with its distressed wood, heavy metal studs and seed glass perimeter was worth the wait. It sets the tone as you walk in the door.

Other strategies used to create the feeling of age are the repeated use of columns with Corinthian capital to delineate the spaces and the use of arches. Arches are everywhere. They are used repeatedly throughout the home from defining spaces from room to room, to cabinetry crowns, to the arched glass window of the wine cellar.

This trull is a family home. Framed frailly photos cover the black grand piano in the living room. More are found on the bookshelves for David’s wood paneled office and throughout the home. The furniture is plush and comfortable and made to be sat in, not admired from afar.

“My favorite room is the dining room,” Victoria says. Off to the left of the foyer, this room features smooth Venetian plaster walls and a formal, textured plaster, patterned ceiling painted with an old-world, faux finish. A long, heavy wooden table surrounded by leather and wood chairs completes the effect. A small butler’s pantry leads to the door of the wine cellar.

A large arching window mae of a solid sheet of glass, looks into the adjacent wine cellar. The cellar, built by Apex Wine Cellars, has a holding capacity of 1800 bottles, and it’s own chilling unit. “It’s my first hobby,” David says with delight.

A more formal living room and bar are located directly beyond the foyer. As avid entertainers, this is a favorite gathering spot when guests are over. Although it features two distinct zones, they blend seamlessly, offering plenty of places to relax at the bar, play chess or lounge in front of the fireplace.

This was a hands-on project for Victoria who did most of the interior design of the furnishings throughout the home. She selected most of the furniture and rugs working with designers from Robb & Stucky and Rug Gallery. George Mazas of Mazas Design Gallery chose the lighting and most of the flooring. A color scheme of natural tones of taupe, caramel, greens and tans keep it soothing and comfortable.

Another of Victoria’s favorite rooms is the huge, 400-square-foot dressing area shared by Victoria and David. this light-filled, elegant room is a smaller sized duplication of Mariah Carey’s closet that Victoria had seen on a show and fallen in love with. With its white marble floors, gold and crystal chandeliers and plush gold silk hassocks, it is a closet fit for a queen or diva. Floor-to-ceiling shoe racks keep Victoria’s shoe collection in order and full-length mirrors make appraisal of one’s outfit a snap. And how does David fit in to this feminine space? “I love it,” David Says. “Victoria loves it and it makes here happy so I love it. I would do it all over again.”

In addition to the dressing area, the master suite included a master bedroom painted in soothing chocolate tones, with an adjacent seating area featuring a comfortable couch below the bay window that overlooks the outdoor spa. To the right, the bathroom features a large, freestanding soaking tub, a glassed in shower with multiple water jets, a private toilet closet and a double sink vanity with elegant built-in cabinetry. It is spacious and open.

Including all the extras
The right wing of the home features the large kitchen and family room area, a spacious laundry room, pool bath and Vitoria’s office. Victoria’s office is a light filled, elegant space personalized with family photos and gifts from her children. Her sense of fun shows in the leopard print carpet she had originally chosen for the playroom but she just couldn’t resist using in her office instead. “I can’t believe how much time I end up spending in here,” Victoria laughs.

The kitchen, in keeping with the old world design of the home, has dark wood cabinetry with richly colored, thick granite countertops. A large hood with a limestone finish forms an alcove for the six-burner, Wolf cooktop. The center island offers plenty of work and storage space and the adjacent counter offers more workspace with counter seating on the far side.

This is definitely the social heart of the home with a breakfast nook featuring a walnut wood paneled ceiling and stained glass lampshade. More overstuffed counches face a built-in wall unit including a large Sony Plasma TV and surround sound speakers. Double glass doors lead out to the elegant covered patio and outdoor entertaining area.

Black and orange marble tiles laid in a checkerboard pattern set and elegant tone for the outside patio. A dramatic wall of layered stone provides a backdrop for the gas grill and outdoor kitchen while another sone wall has a fireplace to keep outdoor diners warm on chilly winter evenings. “We entrain a lot and we love it out here,” Victoria says.

Stepping down from the patio, the curving pool is surrounded by a semicircle of Greek columns wit ha dark wood pergola top. Eventually, David hopes to have these covered with climbing, twisting vines. Low maintenance planting of split leaf philodendron, firecracker plat and others keep landscaping to a minimum. One special element here is the yard of Sea Isle grass. As a certified cultivar originally developed for golf courses, it is difficult and expensive to obtain but once established, offers the fine blades of soft feel of the grass of David and Victoria’s native New York state.

A place all their own
With three kids of very different ages, the upstairs offers the perfect retreat. The boys share one side of the hall with individual bedrooms separated by a shared bathroom. The daughter has her own bedroom and bathroom on the other side. In the middle, one large room features a glass wall and ballet bar for the daughter plus ample storage for children’s toys. Next to it is a large television and movie room with ample black leather seating and burgundy painted walls. It is decorated with movie posters and mementos. A truly perfect kids’ escape, while the parents are entertaining downstairs.

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