BUILT TO PERFECTION
In the to wn of Palm Beach Gardens, nearly three miles south of Donald Ross Road and Central Boulevard, rests a private community with lush preserves, private bodies of water and a 19-hole golf course permeating the grounds. It’s an affluent neighborhood known as Old Palm Golf Club. It has an esoteric entrance and tall hedges along the perimeter, keeping the exclusive country club hidden, and once inside there’s no reason to ever leave. Old Palm Golf Club offers its members and residents concierge services, spa treatments, a state-of-the-art fitness center and fine dining restaurants. But while the community has a resort-like ambience, there is one home inside Old Palm that is giving it a run for its money, a home that is a vacation destination in its own right. This is the home of Mike and Vanessa Ciprianni.
“I tried to think of everything possible before building this house – kind of like building a resort for my guests,” says Mike, who reveals the friendliest of smiles.
With a billiards table, poker table, wine cellar, wet bar, fitness center, locker room, jiu-jitsu training facility, putting greens, a pebble-finish pool, hot tub and a 2,000-square-foot loggia equipped with a hibachi grill and a professional pizza oven, it’s safe to say he succeeded.
From the beginning, Mike, who has a background in construction, and Vanessa who has a background in interior design and is now the owner of Blowtox – a blow-dry bar in Palm Beach Gardens, always knew how they wanted their house to flow. They knew they wanted a home with tons of open space and rooms that would never go unused. So for three months they went back and forth revising blueprints with their builder, Couture Homes, and interior designer, Rogers Design Group.
In June 2012 they broke ground and by March 2013 they moved in. In a matter of nine months, they built an approximately 12,000-square-foot home with six bedrooms, eight full baths, two half baths, a private guest house, a five-car garage, and the previously mentioned 2,000-square-foot air-conditioned loggia.
Walking through the main doors, the formal dining room is first to reveal itself. There’s ivory furniture against the dark wood accents in the room, and a self-playing grand piano slightly perched to the right. The contrast in colors and smooth upholstery gives it an open feel, as if oxygen in this room is purer than the outdoors.
Left of the formal dining room is a long hallway, where a modest wine cellar can be found on the left side of this corridor. Following the cellar is a perpendicular wing that leads to three bedrooms, two of which belong to the Cipriannis’ two small children, and the remaining room for their children’s friends. There’s also a small yet comfortable entertaining room in the center of the wing with its own access to a private courtyard.
Across from the children’s hallway is the kitchen. The Cipriannis, like the true Italians that they are, always find themselves in this room. With granite countertops and butcher blocks at the end of the main island, this spacious kitchen has practically a 180-degree view of the family room, which has a 90-inch flatscreen TV built in a custom-made wall mount made of split-face Botticino stone; a view of their billiards room, which is adjacent to the poker table and private courtyard; a view of their pool and covered patio, known as the loggia; and a view of their kids’ playroom.
Walking past the cabana steam-showered bathroom, which is connected to the children’s playroom by a pocket door, one will find a locker room. It’s built into a little nook, giving any person using the gym facilities the privacy they need. Only steps away is the gym itself, with glass walls overlooking the loggia and pool.
On the weekends the Cipriannis host “pizza Sundays” and utilize the professional oven, which can bake up to six pizzas.
The oven, hibachi grill, three flat-screen TVs, a double-sided fireplace and a fire pit can all be found in the loggia. And the loggia itself can be completely sectioned off from the rest of the backyard with automatic screens.
Since the Cipriannis are known for entertaining, it was important for Mike to keep in mind how guests could enjoy the space. He had their lagoon-like pool raised 18 inches from the ground to prevent debris from blowing in. He had a 3-horsepower motor installed in the hot tub to provide a therapeutic experience through its jets. And he even implemented fire bowls that light up along the back fence patio and around the pool.
The master bedroom and his-and-her bathrooms can be found at the end of a corridor to the right of the home’s entrance. Mike and Vanessa each have their own walk-in closet, but the term “walk-in” barely does it justice. Vanessa’s closet, for example, looks a like a high-end boutique of sorts. It’s approximately a 350-square-foot U-shaped room filled with sectional shelving space, which accommodates rows and rows of shoes and clothes that would leave any woman seething with jealousy. And if jaws don’t drop at the site of it, they definitely will once you step foot inside her bathroom.
Complements of Rogers Design, Vanessa’s bathroom has a stunning intarsia pattern, glass and marble design. There’s a wainscot pattern on the walls of her shower and around the windows that surround the round, porcelainwhite tub. And if that weren’t enough, the bathroom, along with the other main bathrooms in the house, has a heating system, so that no one will ever catch a chill coming out of the shower.
Even though there were some minor setbacks during construction, such as dealing with the heavy rain during the summer of 2012 or replacing defective wood, which they had to do after it already been installed, the house turned out perfect.
“Nothing is ever going to go 100 percent, but it’s all about building relationships,” Mike says. Relationships like the one he developed with Todd Ullom.
As the cofounder of Couture Homes in Jupiter, Ullom was hired for the job not just based on the quality of his work, but because of his virtues. In fact, at that time Couture was so busy it didn’t have an opportunity to build a spec home. So every home the Cipriannis saw that was built by Couture was a custom-built home for a former client, and not particularly in line with the Cipriannis’ taste. But having interviewed Ullom earlier in the process, Mike says he was able “to see the forest through the trees.”
Even Vanessa detected a sincerity she couldn’t overlook. “I told my husband from the beginning that Todd was going to build our house. There was something about him; he was such a gentleman,” Vanessa says.
Ullom and Mike became the best of friends, and together they collaborated on how to make things better. “I don’t know too many people that end up having a great relationship with their builder after they build a house,” Mike says, laughing.
Founded in 2008, Couture Homes trademarked a methodology called “Lifestyle Discovery Process.” It’s an approach of studying and mapping how a client lives in order to develop a home consistent with the client’s lifestyle.
“When we first started working with Mike and Vanessa, there were some very unique things they wanted. … And even having done this a while, it was a little difficult getting my arms around what they were asking for because I hadn’t seen how they lived,” Ullom says.
In the summer of 2012, Ullom flew out to the Cipriannis’ summer home in San Diego, and in four days observed the Cipriannis in their elegant yet inviting habitat. It was during this time Ullom made a connection and devised a plan that was compatible to their lifestyle.
“Dinner at Mike and Vanessa’s house isn’t four or five people, it is 25 people,” Ullom says. “So when he [Mike] is talking about how his bar needs to work on the loggia, suddenly when I saw how they lived, light bulbs went off and everything began to make sense.”
Lorraine Rogers-Bolton, owner of Rogers Design, also had the opportunity to witness the Cipriannis’ lifestyle.
The Rogers Design team flew out to San Diego to present all surfaces, materials, designs and furnishings, and while there they too were inspired to design something amazing.
Having more than 30 years of experience, it’s important to Rogers- Bolton to always create a unique interior. “Every home we design is one-of-a-kind. … You may see some similarities, but they are never identical,” Rogers-Bolton says.
In general, Rogers Design tends to design homes that have a relaxed contemporary look with a soft edge. “I like our contemporary interiors to have a certain elegance and softness about them, while keeping the integrity of pure lines and simplicity,” Rogers-Bolton says.
So working hand-in-hand with the client, architect and builder, Rogers-Bolton created the right design the Cipriannis were looking for. They designed and selected the interior architecture – including the furniture, art and accessories – the surfaces, ceilings, electric placements, the floor inlays and the millwork for the contractor.
It was agreed that Rogers Design would create strong architectural detail, a lot of ebony-colored wood contrasting the light stone, and a lot of textural components.
“The interior has very crisp, clean and contemporary lines with some softness provided by the upholstery,” Rogers-Bolton says.
Most of the upholstery in the Cipriannis’ home is ivory, light and neutral, and according to Rogers-Bolton the color is provided by accents, accessories and art.
For Rogers-Bolton, the millwork with the stainless steel details and lit alabaster wall feature in the dining room, which was illuminated, is what makes that room one of her favorites.
This home features an array of amenities, all of which are fit to entertain. But the home itself is not gaudy. It’s contemporary, relaxed and tasteful. And even better – there’s no room that goes to waste. From the jiu-jitsu training center – that is the only second story room of the house – to the private guest house, every room seems to always be in use. After all, that is the reason the Cipriannis built their dream home, so that their friends and family always had a place to enjoy.