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Riverwalk Lapse.mp4

Dream Home on the Water.

By Jon Brooks

To view the video of this property, please go here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgwu_xyvqW0

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Dream Home on the Water.

Plans for Jane* and Peter’s* dream house were years in the making. Their stunning, Old World style home -- combining elegant European elements with casual, waterfront living — began taking shape with pages taken from design magazines.

“We started dreaming about what we wanted years before we actually started building in late 2005 / early 2006,” says Jane. “When I saw something in a magazine, I would cut it out and put it in my binder, so I had pictures of kitchens, fireplaces, railings -- all these ideas. Just thinking about what we would build was fun. And I had that binder ready when we started to actually do the plans.”

Those plans began coming together when Jane and Peter, owners of a small business in Jacksonville, bought a prime lot on the tip of a peninsula in Queen’s Harbor. Its location offered privacy, dazzling views of pristine marsh areas and the Intracoastal, and easy access for boating. Jane and Peter hired prominent Jacksonville architect Kevin Gray to nail down their vision for a classic, one-of-a-kind family home for themselves and their two sons.

The couple had a few must-haves: Two-story living and dining rooms that joined as one grand room stretching to the back of the house for water views. A two-story wall of windows for panoramic water views. And stone floors everywhere except in the bedrooms.

The couple ended up with a two-story, 7,300 square foot home flooded with natural light and astonishing water views, and filled with luxury features, superior materials, and exquisite handiwork. Floors are stone and columns are authentic marble. Many walls are venetian-style plaster finished with faux painting, and there are $250,000 of custom wood built-ins. The arched front door is custom wrought iron from Mexico and the foyer is an extraordinary mix of Italian stone, mosaic tile, and detailed ironwork; a large wine cellar is tucked beneath the staircase. The kitchen is chef quality, all bedrooms have en suites, and even the two garages have tiling and fine wood cabinetry.

This is a home of superlatives.

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Styling Old World.

“We are both German, and we are both very quality oriented,” Jane notes. “That’s why our house is built the way it is. Our overall vision was Old World, and every room has a lot of details.”

The couple enlisted the help of Neptune Beach’s Belmarmi, Inc., which specializes in exotic stone and European tradition design, to furnish the marble, stone, and tiles that reflect their European roots. That look begins in the foyer, where each step of the graceful, curved staircase is crafted from a solid custom stone slab highlighted with stone mosaic risers. The delicately detailed wrought iron stair railings were custom designed from magazine photos that Jane had collected and then forged by local ironworks craftsmen.

Each of the home’s four fireplaces -- three are wood burning, the fourth is gas — is unique. For example, the ornate, marble living room fireplace that was hand crafted in Mexico, then reassembled and installed by craftsmen sent by the Mexican company, was designed to be tall enough to make a bold statement within the high-ceiling room.

In Old World tradition, many of the walls are Venetian-style plaster finished with faux paint, perhaps best reflected in the lavishly appointed master bedroom suite. Behind the bed is a large, arched niche that appears to be bronze, but is actually covered with wallpaper that a faux painter designed and painted to resemble bronze. The bedroom’s tray ceiling, which features hidden, recessed low lighting, is faux painted to match the niche.

Another nod to European styling is a second level walkway overlooking the living/dining great room that features columns, arches and iron railings. The walkway connects a water-view sitting area and a guest room on one side of the house with more bedrooms and a media/game room on the other. The couple also added overlooks and Juliette balconies throughout the home to add interest and break up some of the huge expanses of walls.

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That Fabulous Kitchen.

The kitchen, which is open to informal eat-in space in addition to the formal dining/living room, features top-of-the-line appliances such as Wolfe and Sub-zero. It includes a butler’s pantry, a large walk-in pantry, two refrigerators, and two parallel islands, one topped with granite and the other with a solid slab of hardwood.

“Having two islands is based on what I saw in a design magazine,” says Jane, who loves to cook. “When you cook a lot, you use the granite island close to the sink, so I use it for things like preparing and dirty dishes. But when a lot of people come over for holidays or a birthday, I do a buffet style on the wood-topped island. It was all made this way for entertaining.”

Jane delights in cooking in her kitchen, but one of her favorite features – the huge granite sink -- is the result of a mistake.

“When I ordered a stainless steel double sink I forgot to look at how deep it was,” she explains.”When it came, it was only 12 inches deep and couldn’t fit my big pots and pans. The granite counter tops had already been cut, and we couldn’t find another sink to fit, so we decided to have a custom sink made of solid granite. It is absolutely the best sink I’ve ever had. It was a mistake that turned out great.”

“I love cooking and trying new recipes,” Jane adds, “This is such a useable kitchen because everything is so close to where you work. It’s my favorite space.”

Waterside Living.

Peter had a lot to say about designing the home’s outside living spaces. “That’s why the lanai is so big and the pool is lined with mosaic tiles instead of Marcite,” Jane laughs. ”We both had our fun.”

The oversized lanai features a large dining space, a summer kitchen with a pizza oven, a sitting area with gas fireplace, and a cabana bar where Peter often sets up his laptop to work. “He loves to see the view. We see lots of birds and you can just sit there and gaze away,” Jane says. “We can see boats go by, but we don’t hear much. It’s all very pretty.”

Power screens protect the lanai from rain and insects. The pristine, heated pool includes a spa and waterfall feature.

The home is surrounded by mature trees and grassy areas; a stone walkway circles the waterfront. Since the area is fenced, it is dog friendly. A 24-foot dock offers boat access. And everywhere there are breathtaking water views.

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All That Grandeur, Yet Truly a Family Home.

The home is undeniably grand, from its dramatic foyer and formal, two-story dining/living room to its opulent master bath. Yet this open concept, light-filled space is also a comfortable family home.

“This is a very versatile home, great for formal entertaining, casual entertaining and just family living,” says Jane. “We do have those formal areas in the middle, like the dining room, which we use for special occasions. But every day we use the dinette in the kitchen; there’s no formality. And we love to barbeque in the summer. The kids used to invite friends over and swim in the pool and we would eat at the big table on the lanai. They would take jet skis out from the dock.”

Family gatherings at Christmas are among Jane’s fondest memories.

“We put a Christmas tree in the corner where the stairs go up and the piano sits. Because we are Europeans we celebrate Christmas Eve, so there’s a very different mood at night. We would have the fireplaces going and the Christmas lights on and the little German Christmas Pyramids lit with candles. The dining table would be all decorated and set for dinner. Then the little ones would come and we would pull our dining chairs around the foyer where the tree is and let them open their presents. Everyone has a glass of wine and sometimes good friends come over. It’s all about family.”

Jane and Peter’s sons are now adults, and the couple has two young grandchildren. But until recently their youngest son lived in a separate studio space above the garage. “It has a private entrance and a large room with a kitchenette and a bathroom,” Jane notes. “It would also be great as a nanny suite.”

Jane’s father has lived part-time in the house, which has two bedrooms on the main floor: the master suite and a guest bedroom suite. “My dad lived with us for several months a year,” Jane notes. “Since he is older, we wanted a bedroom that is easily accessible. It is also perfect for a nursery or child’s room.” The other bedrooms are on the second level.

The two garages, designed by Peter, have also served as family get-together space. The extra deep garages — a 2-car for Jane and 3-car for Peter -- are finished with tiling, custom built-ins, a sink, real wood doors, and refrigerators. Peter’s garage has heat and air conditioning.

“His is a garage for people who enjoy cars, but it also has a sitting area where he would have fun and watch games on TV with the kids,” Jane notes. “We also had a ping pong table, a hockey table, and a football table in there.”

Peter also designed the large, circular driveway. “He did not want to have to back up to get out,” Jane points out.

The Amenities of Queen’s Harbor.

The exclusive Queen’s Harbor community, located about 5 miles from both the beach and the Mayo Clinic, offers a broad array of resort-style amenities, from a golf course, fitness center and tennis courts to a marina, a pool, and a clubhouse.

“When our kids were younger, they had great summer camps for kids, different sports camps; my kids played tennis,” Jane says. “There are also activities for adults, like a garden club and a wine club. If you want to get involved as adults or families, there’s always something to do.”

Jane notes that all of the neighborhood’s streets have sidewalks, making it easy for her to walk her dogs.

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Saying Goodbye Is Hard to Do.

Although their home offers aging-friendly, main level living, Peter and Jane have decided to downsize now that their children have left home. But Jane admits that it won’t be an easy change.

“The hardest things for me to let go of will be the water views and the great room with all those windows,” Jane says. “Every day, when I walk by the living/dining room, I think how it is just the prettiest room. It is so light and bright there, and it’s such a peaceful room because there is no TV. Sometimes I take a book and read in there. Sometimes in the morning, when the sun hits the pool, it reflects into the room and it’s like seeing moving water on the wall.”

“It’s maybe once in your lifetime that you are able to fulfill your wish for something big,” Jane points out. “We did that by building this house. It is our dream home.”

* The homeowners’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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