If Cascada De Leone was plopped in the chateau region of France or alongside the Tuscan villas of Italy, it would not look out of place. But this European style, castle like estate is right here in Naples.
“Every time I come in here I am transformed into Europe,” said Jutta Lopez, sales associate, at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.
The home and gardens were inspired by the owner’s love of Italy and its architecture. They wanted it all to be so authentic that they hired a landscape expert and photographer to travel to Italy for 10 days and document some of the finest estates.
The home has all the finest in materials and design from the travertine floors, to the hand carved woodwork around the ceilings. There are turrets, domes, and so many rooms it takes hours to explore them all.
“They wanted to accomplish a forever house,” Lopez said. “They wanted to build a home that would still be beautiful 100 years from now.”
“It takes a very, very skilled set of team members to put something like that together,” said Shane Klepko, partner and vice president of Harwick Homes. “It took quite a time to build. A significant more amount of time was spent on planning than executions.”
Building the home was a Herculean effort. The owners bought the largest six oak trees they could find and had to get special permission from the Department of Transportation to move them down I-75. They used so much travertine inside and outside the home that it filled an entire shipping container.
Everything is complex and specially designed from the intricate patterns on the ceilings to the flooring stone that has a chiseled edge and patterns so the floors are pieces of artwork too.
“It is an everlasting architecture,” Lopez said. “It will always be beautiful.”
Like many castles, the house has more than the typical rooms found in a home. There is a large library with more than 4,000 books illuminated by a chandelier made from colorful Turkish lamps. To get to the upper shelves the owners installed custom built library stairs made out of wrought iron that is a replica of King George III library stairs.
“The library is spectacular,” Klepko said.
There is a raised room near one of the living rooms built especially for a piano. The room has wall scones in golden bronze finish with salon Scavo glass, and a stone floor.
Cascada De Leone has five bedrooms, but could have seven. An upstairs den and a humongous storage room could add two more bedrooms.
“This is everybody’s dream,” Lopez said.
Each of the four guest suites has its own name with a hand painted art stone plaque. Two of the guest suites have their own entrance off of the lanai. One has a kitchen. Another has a private terrace. All the suites have a king sized bed, a sitting area, a bathroom and walk-in closet.
The master suite is an entire side of the home. There is a den, a gift wrapping room and then a two room bedroom. One section features the king sized bed surrounded by columns. There is a gas fireplace inside a stone mantel. An archway leads to the sitting area that has six large windows with silk draperies, and French doors leading to the lanai.
“The owners say the sitting room is their favorite,” Lopez said. “It is their favorite for sitting and watching TV. They don’t have to go to the living room. They don’t have to go to the great room. They just come here.”
The master bathroom has stained glass windows in the shower. The his and her closets are each the size of a small bedroom.
The home continues with a plethora of other rooms. There is a master office with built in cabinetry and a long seat nestled beneath a row of windows. French doors lead to the lanai. Stairs from the outside lead to a back door to the den.
The foyer has a two story dome.
“Every room has beautiful ceilings,” Lopez said. “All the woodwork is hand crafted by artisans.”
Sherri DuPont of Collins DuPont Design Group did the interior design including all the ceilings, cabinetry, floors and furniture.
“The whole trend even now to a certain extend was to have these giant ceilings,” DuPont said. “My ceilings had to give them a more human scale so you didn’t feel like you were in a cathedral. We did a frieze around the room at 13 feet so while we accented the ceiling, you also felt more comfortable in the space with that lowering at that 13 foot height. I spent a lot of time back then in Italy and France looking at these large palaces and it was something I learned from my collection of books and travel.”
There is a mini office in the loft nestled in a triangular corner. The living room has a gas fireplace set into a carved stone mantel. Silk curtains form a top frame to the sliding glass doors that lead to the lanai. The kitchen is set under a carved wooden ceiling. There is mosaic tile over the stove, an archway window to an eating room and a huge island. The cabinetry is created in dark carved wood. Yet while it looks Old World, there are some modern surprises. Hidden behind a small door by the counter is a smoothie machine. A big door hides a humongous pantry. There is also room for 1,200 wine bottles in the wine cellar that sits under a barrel ceiling.
“Every part of the home has something very unique and special about it whether it is a structural element, exterior or interior design element,” Klepko explained. “One thing that stood out in my mind is the wine room. Over the years we have had a lot of comments and compliments.”
The laundry room has two washing machines, two dryers and a doggie bath. There are four full garages plus a golf cart garage.
“They have not left anything out,” Lopez said.
The home is decorated in antiques. Furniture in the living room and dining room looks like something you might see in an historic Tuscan villa.
“He (the owner) was a developer in Atlanta,” DuPont explained. “Atlanta is the height of the antique scene so they had quite a collection before I got involved. So my challenge was to take their pieces and combine them with replicas and new pieces and then to keep the colors light so it did not look like a museum. It was truly one of my all-time favorite homes that I worked on.”
Then there is the outside. The estate doubles in size when that is added in. The pool is shaped like a lazy river and has little waterfalls and rounded islands with plants along the side.
“They have a lot of grandchildren,” Lopez said. “They love the lazy river.”
On the other side of the home is a waterfall that cascades down from layered stones on the side of a gazebo into another shimmering pool of water. The home has under roof lanai and porch areas on both levels.
“If you have never been in an outdoor living area of that size and scale, you cannot describe it,” Klepko explained. “You have to go feel it for yourself. It is hard to describe when you are standing next to the pool you have water elements and cascading water element and the winding among the landscape details.”
An Allee is a feature on many Tuscan country homes, so the owners wanted that too. The grass pathway lined with plants and flowers leading to a stone sculpture is a prominent part of one side of the home.
“It is a combination of the architecture and the gardens that makes this house so special,” Lopez explained.
Building this massive home had its challenges.
“One thing that comes to my mind is the sequencing of the structure and then following with all of the finishes,” Klepko explained. “It is a balancing act because a lot of the times you don’t know the final finishes when you start building the home. A lot of the emphasis had to be put on the interior finishes. Some of those had to be installed six to eight months before the home was finished like the stone inside of the home. The whole project was a monumental collaborative project between design professions. We were very fortunate to be part of that house building team.”
Cascada De Leone was built in 2010 on two lots. It spans 11,098 square feet under air and a total of 22,005 square feet of total area.
While coastal and transitional homes are trending now, Lopez says a Tuscan villa like this never loses its appeal.
“It’s a very large home, but it’s very intimate,” Lopez said. “Somebody is going to walk in here and see that it is something so different. When you walk into a coastal contemporary it is cool, but it is not warm and inviting. This house once you walk in, you feel calm. It is warm and inviting. It has personality. The coastal contemporary – they don’t last. I do think this will last. It has lasted throughout Europe. You are never going to get tired of this.”
The villa is listed for $9.850 million
“This is the most expensive house in Grey Oaks,” Lopez said.
Furniture is negotiable. Lopez thinks that a new owner could even bring in their own modern furniture and make it work.
“If they don’t want this type of furniture, they will use modern,” she said. “They can put up beautiful artwork that is very contemporary. What you are enjoying is the architecture. I can see this with modern furniture.”
Cascada De Leone has been a full time residence for the owners and something immensely enjoyed by their children and grandchildren. But the owners say they want a smaller home in Naples for the winter and a summer home somewhere else.
“They would like to be a little closer to the grandchildren as well,” Lopez said.
Lopez thinks the home will be popular to buyers.
“Every house on street is Balinese or coastal contemporary so this is very special addition to the neighborhood,” she said. “I think if there is someone looking for something out of the ordinary and they have an appreciation for the carpentry, the woodwork and the stone, they will fall in love with this house. It is finding the right someone to come through the door.”