The moment you step into the foyer of Michele and Dominic’s contemporary French-inspired custom home, your eye is immediately drawn up. First to the gracefully curved staircase winding up to the second floor, then to the pair of dazzling chandeliers glittering overhead, then finally all the way up to the intricate moldings on the lofty, arched ceiling. The foyer alone is a show-stopper, but it’s just the first of many breathtaking spaces in the home.
“I expected to be speechless, and I was speechless,” says Jacqueline Hillgrube, Coldwell Banker Realtor, and Michele’s long-time friend and realtor. “I don’t think anyone could create a home quite like Michele can.”
Michele had a vision for her home and the passion for design to make that vision come to life. She spent months tracking down the finishes, hand-picking everything from the flooring, to the crown molding, to the many chandeliers that flood the home with light. She worked with Rittenhouse Home, a Newtown-based home decor store, to source furniture and artwork. Her love of France and French design led to some standout features, like the massive and magnificent window overlooking the home’s foyer. While touring the architecture of Paris, Michele spotted the graceful, curved window and fell in love. She came home to Bucks County and worked with her builder, Richard Zaveta of Zaveta Custom Homes, to find a window company to recreate it. Her home’s airy, light-filled foyer is the result.
Michele worked closely with Jackie for over year and a half to complete the purchase of the land and solidify the build contract. As Michele’s friend and realtor, Jackie worked to make sure the homeowners were matched with the best in the industry during their home search, which is how she ended up introducing them to Richard Zaveta of Zaveta Custom Homes.
“The Who's Who in the luxury custom homes market would categorize Richard Zaveta as the premier custom builder in this area,” says Jackie. Agrees Michele, “He was the best builder I have ever [worked with]…from beginning to end, his whole team, when they say they’ll do something, they not only do it, but do it better.”
And from this fortuitous introduction came a truly spectacular home. The original plans called for the home to be around 6,500 square feet, but the final version is closer to 16,000, featuring 5 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a golf simulator room, and the piece de resistance – a bar room that is a reproduction of the Bar at New York City's Baccarat Hotel.
Knowing her realtor possessed a wealth of contacts and family background in building and contracting, Michele called on Jackie when needed for opinions throughout the build process. Jackie’s expertise meant she could offer something unique to Michele and Dominic as they built their home. Jackie proudly offers this deep toolbox of resources, including recommendations to the highest level of subcontractors available to all of her clientele. This comes in very valuable for many home buyers, whether they are building new or renovating.
The build wasn’t without a few detours. Michele and Dominic decided to put in the bowling alley after the foundation had already been poured and the walls were partially up. The addition meant that one end of the home had to be essentially chopped off, and hydraulic excavators and rock breaking equipment brought in to dig down deep enough for a ball return. However, the extra length added to the basement for the bowling lane meant that extra length had to be added to the floor above, and out of that dilemma, the stunning upstairs bar was born. “It was a win-win,” says Zaveta.
Even though he has built some of Bucks County’s most impressive custom homes, Michele and Dominic’s home stands out for Zaveta. “I think the foyer is truly amazing, with all the radial geometry, but if I had to say what we are most proud of in the house, is that the exterior of the home is commensurate with the interior; that’s a rare find.”
With all the glamour of the home, it still retains a sense of warmth and welcome, which was Michele’s intention all along. The morning room off the kitchen becomes a playroom when her grandchildren visit, and with all the playmats and toys, it “becomes baby central,” she says.
“I was here from the stone, to the stud phase, to the drywall phase, to the floors,” says Jackie. “But the day [Michele] called me over to see the finishes complete…I was speechless. Michele…creates something from nothing. She brings the best out of everyone she works with.”