Villa on a Hill
It’s like something out of a movie: an Old-World hillside villa with a courtyard entry patio, the grounds covered in cultivated swirls of foliage and flowers. The home is elegant in white, with a gabled roof and copper accents, surrounded by grassy acreage and sweeping views of the valley below.
Most wouldn’t guess that this home originated from the humblest of beginnings: the checkout lane of a grocery store.
Over 20 years ago, one of the home’s owners was on a grocery run to purchase chicken soup for his sick spouse. At the time, the couple was looking to build a new home together, but hadn’t yet settled on the design or the exact location. And then he happened upon a home plan magazine in the checkout line, which pictured a house that had potential. The house in the magazine photo was located in Atlanta, but it was easy to envision a new build of the same home in the Inland Northwest.
The couple was able to purchase seven full house plans and speak with the Atlanta home’s builder. They planned for a few small changes, like thicker walls and double-paned windows to suit Spokane winters, and additional length for the attached, three-car garage to better accommodate the vehicle used to transport the couple’s then-teenaged children. Specs for the home were purchased from the architect for $50, gaining access to everything from exact paint colors to tile to cabinetry to plumbing fixtures, the vast majority of which they chose to incorporate or adapt for this home.
The Atlanta home appealed to both of their design tastes, which they were looking to merge. His previous home was clean and modern, and hers was a Saltbox-style house with traditional furniture, something he jokingly termed “Early American Obstacle Course.” For their shared home, “We wanted something really timeless, really classic,” they say. They aimed for “a mix of Old-World charm and a more modern feel with an open floor plan,” as comfortable for someone wearing cowboy boots as for a person dressed up for a night out, with private spaces balanced by rooms well-suited to large groups. This home had all of that and more.
Once the plans were obtained, the couple sought the right site, one that would accommodate the daylight basement the design called for. They hiked the hills of Spokane Valley before eventually choosing this 8.3-acre lot, in a gated community adjacent to the Dishman Hills Natural Area. Though it’s located just 15 minutes from downtown, the setting is quiet and private, offering commanding views of the entire valley, with Spokane’s city lights visible at night. From the stamped concrete patios that extend along the rear of the home, there is clear visibility to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July and after Spokane Indians games.
The home exudes curb appeal. The exterior is clad in scored white Dryvit, which has a classic, aged appearance. Steps lead to the French front doors; inside, visible from the foyer, are some of the home’s tone-setting traditional elements: swirling staircases, white columns, soaring ceilings, and generous crown molding. Classic materials like sandstone tile, tumbled marble and granite are repeated throughout the home. Light streams into every room through the expansive windows. “We love the light,” they say.
The main floor layout includes a two-story foyer and a family room with 22-foot ceilings. A curved nook, surrounded in floor-to-ceiling windows, looks custom-made for the grand piano. The family room is open to the kitchen, which has island seating and a table for casual meals. There is also a more formal living room and dining room, as well as a main floor bedroom and attached bathroom. “Many a football team, basketball, track and volleyball team dinner have been hosted here,” the owners say, along with plenty of family gatherings and work parties.
Upstairs includes the expansive master suite, as well as two bedrooms and an adjoining bathroom. Downstairs, the full daylight basement offers space for a bedroom and an office, a spacious craft room lined with built-in cabinetry, a family room, a gym and a teak-floored space with lots of windows that is home to the hot tub and sauna. On the original floor plans, the sauna area was a sitting room, but the homeowners see this as a better use of the space, pointing out that there are plenty of other spaces to relax. “We have all of these sitting areas and are not really sitters,” they admit with a laugh. There are two laundry rooms, located on the second story and on the lower level, convenient for washing sheets and clothes, plus the towels that come with use of the hot tub and resort-style pool.
Furnishings and décor, collected both before and during the couple’s many years in this house, add to the rich charm. They mention Luminaria and Revival Lighting as favorite sources for lighting purchases, both antique and new. Lights have gradually been replaced over the years with crystal sconces and antique fixtures. Bedroom furniture includes an heirloom four-poster canopy bed. Ornate mirrors hang on the walls, looking right at home with the carved bannisters, intricate ceiling medallions, couches trimmed with fringe, floral area rugs and footed upholstered stools. The elegant décor is complemented by the unassuming backdrop of wood floors and neutral paint colors. Subtly patterned wallpapers contribute to the home’s layered textures.
One of the homeowners’ favorite spaces is the kitchen, with hand-rubbed crackle-finish cabinetry and granite-topped island and counters. The welcoming design makes it possible to accommodate the things beyond cooking that a kitchen should be for, the homeowners say: card games at the table, conversation and laughter, and hands joined in gratitude. Put simply, “It’s just the heart and soul of our home.”
They also love sitting on the deck in the summer, and walking the grounds surrounded by what they describe as a “maze of flowers” in the secret garden nestled against the home on one side. They anxiously await the blooming of tulips, lilacs, rhododendrons and perennials as spring and summer return.
On the second story, the most stunning space—other than the catwalk hallway that provides full views of the family room from above—is the master suite, with plush carpeting, a barreled ceiling, a cozy fireplace, an attached sitting room, and his and hers walk-in closets. The private balcony off the master provides another opportunity to escape outdoors. The master bathroom is a light-filled space with a sandstone floor, tumbled marble tile, a deep soaking tub, and double vanities.
Most of us have had the experience of walking out of the grocery store with more than we bargained for, but it’s the rare person who can say they left with a villa on a hill. In seeking a way to merge their individual styles, these homeowners found a dream home in the checkout lane. As they put it, “We just had the perfect marriage to build a house.”
If you’d like to learn more about this home or its furnishings, or have questions about working with a design from a home plan magazine, the homeowners welcome you to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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