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HOMEOWNERS - Brooks and Alicia Gerlinger

BUILT - December 2004 - June 2005

LOCATION - Community of Long Cove

STYLE - English Revival

LIVING SPACE - 11,000 square feet

HIS FAVORITE ROOM - Aesthetically, the great room and adjoining solarium, but he spends most of his time in his wood-paneled study

HER FAVORITE ROOM - The kitchen, "very open yet also very functional"

AT-HOME PASTIMES - Having friends over, riding bike trails with the kids, playing in the pool, watching family movies

HOUSEBUILDING TIP - "Educate yourself — costs will be less of a surprise. Bring pictures to the table, and you're more likely to get what you want. And be available to make decisions."

CUSTOMER QUOTATION - "You want your home accessories to be the same high quality as your home. That's why I shop Frontgate." - Alicia Gerlinger
The Sun Room

The Master Bathroom

The Office

The Game Room

Builder - Tim Hensley, President Hensley Custom Building Group 11821 Mason-Montgomery Road Cincinnati, OH 45249 (513) 509-7582

Residential Designer - Paul Studer Studer Residential Design 4010 Alexandria Pike Cold Spring, KY 41015 (859) 441-9460

Design - Henry T. Vittetoe Vittetoe Interior Design, Inc. (859) 653-3365

Furnishings - Cherry House 200 N. Hurstbourne Parkway Louisville, KY 40222 Contact: Charlotte Folchie (502) 425-7107

Cabinetry/Kitchen Layout/Counters - Kinsella Manufacturing 7880 Camargo Road Cincinnati, OH 45243 Contact: Karen Kinsella (513) 561-5285

Millwork - Select Woodworking 427C West Seymour Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45216 Contact: John Bishop (513) 948-9900

Faux Finishing - Gary Lord Wall Options & Assoc., Inc. 11126 Deerfield Road Cincinnati, OH 45242 513-617-4486 Janice Basco 859-344-0324

Window Treatments - Interior Window Design 10028 Manor Lane Verona, KY 41092 Contact: Ginger Thoerner (859) 485-2982

Tile - Kuhl Tile and Marble 11126 Deerfield Road Cincinnati, OH 45242 Contact: Ed Kuhl (513) 646-6135

Flooring - American Wood Floors 3164 State Route 132 Cincinnati, OH (513) 305-9731

Landscaping - Noah's Farm Noah Woolum 513-896-7523

Sound/Theatre/Networking - Architectural Entertainment 2238 Ferndown Drive Miamisburg, OH 45342 Contact: Matt Damron 937-286-6167

Infinity Pool - Mid-American Pools 1607 Eastern Avenue Covington, KY 41014 859-581-8566

MASON, OHIO — Brooks and Alicia Gerlinger loved almost everything about the house they'd built together. Even the building experience itself had been enjoyable. "We felt comfortable with the builder and team of people we worked with," says Alicia.

The location, however, had proven to be inconvenient. "It wasn't very central to our daily life," she explains; the kids lived too far from school, and Brooks spent nearly an hour a day commuting to work. A city girl at heart, Alicia wanted more of a sense of neighborhood for herself and her family. "We liked where we were, but felt if we could get closer in, it would be a bonus."

"...we had faith in the developer's vision of a grand neighborhood."

About the time they began looking for a new house, she and Brooks got word that the upcoming Home-a-rama was to be located at Long Cove in the heart of Deerfield Township, where a new town center was under construction. "It had more of an urban feel, and that was a big draw," says Alicia. "I thought about all the amenities it would afford us. Waterfront living and boat rentals. A network of trails where we could ride our bikes. A state-of-the-art clubhouse with two or three swimming pools and places to work out and entertain. I could even go for a stroll and get a cup of coffee. We could have all that and be close to the highway and the kids' schools."


When the two of them went to investigate, though, they found the project had yet to materialize. "It was just a piece of dirt," says Alicia. "But we had faith in the developer's vision of a grand neighborhood. And there was a lot of money coming in to develop it."

Nestled in the community of Long Cove, the Gerligers' English Revival home boasts 11,000 square feet of living space. Shop Outdoor Living.

"What's more, one of the featured builders was the same Tim Hensley who'd built their first home. He had collaborated in the previous Home-a-rama, and wanted to showcase what he could do. There was a WOW factor that was going to be built-in."

Ready to move ahead, Brooks and Alicia sat down with Hensley and inspected the site plan. "We were fortunate to get the lot we desired," they say. "It afforded us the best view of the water, and the topography allowed us to have an infinity-edge pool. It all came together."

In choosing a Residential Designer, Brooks and Alicia once again went with what had worked before and enlisted the services of Paul Studer. "We knew we had a good relationship with him," says Alicia.

Though they retained their designer and builder, the couple changed tactics. "We built our first home saying, 'Isn't that pretty — let's try that!' Once we lived in it, we learned what worked well and what didn't. We wanted to pick up on the great parts and modify what needed modifying."

Their priority this time was determining how they actually wanted to use the house, a focus that capitalized on Alicia's native talents and acquired skills. "As a former elementary school teacher, I had to take a big, open space and organize it to accommodate 20 kids." She brought those same sensibilities to designing their home: "How can I make this work so it best suits everybody's needs?"

Brooks made a rough sketch defining how they thought they'd live in each different area; Alicia then designed her dream kitchen and drew the house around it. "We just needed a great builder and a great designer to pull it all together. The house is a marriage between what we loved and what they brought to the table."


Several items on their must-have list were non-negotiable. "I wanted the kitchen to have a high, vaulted ceiling and wood-beam system typical of an old French-country kitchen," says Alicia. "We'd searched high and low to find another home with that kind of architecture, but there was nothing out there."

Recognizing that "the kitchen is where people hang out the most no matter what you do," Alicia decided to place it front and center. "I wanted to be able to see other areas of the house and not feel isolated. Eighty percent of homes have the kitchen in back; we moved it to the front." By placing the window at the front of the kitchen and the breakfast nook behind, she determined she could stand at the sink and see the kids playing out front, then turn around and see the whole backyard and the water beyond. "I love the panoramic view."

Custom-made from stainable, molded-resin architectural elements, "the bar looks like it came out of 18th century Europe, but cost only a fraction as much." Shop Kitchen & Entertaining.

Also topping their list was moving the staircase away from the entry. "We didn't want to see the staircase when we came in the front door," says Alicia. "There's a view of the water when you walk in, and we didn't want to obstruct it. Besides, the kids leave their backpacks, clothes, and toys on the stairs." In the end, they placed one staircase in the master wing, another off the kitchen.

Alicia also knew she needed a room of her own, a place where she could organize and supervise the family's activities. "I wanted my own home office. Before, I had a windowless space tucked away by the garage — it was more of an afterthought. This time, my office is centrally located between the kids' cubby area, the laundry, and the kitchen." There, she's well within earshot of anyone who might need her, and she can easily check on dinner. "Everybody likes to hang out in here, even the kitty."

From previous experience, Alicia learned that the family needed more than the typical laundry room located somewhere near the garage. "It's great for sports equipment and muddy boots, but I also added a laundry closet upstairs for the kids and another one off the master bath. The kids are learning to do their own laundry, and I'm not running up and down stairs constantly." While the big laundry room still comes in handy for overflow, the two others see action on a daily basis.


Given this second chance, Brooks and Alicia were very thoughtful about maximizing the beauty and utility of each room. Their careful planning paid off royally.

"The kitchen exceeded my expectations by far," says Alicia. "It's very grand, yet also very livable. Like most moms, I'm in here quite a bit. It's fun to cook in here! Everything is elegant, right down to the sinks, yet very functional."

Their intention for the great room, to achieve a balance between coziness and class, was also successful. "The great room in our former house didn't feel very cozy. It was very open but, at the same time, overwhelming."

"The ceiling treatments are phenomenal! It's truly a layering process. Just when you think it's all complete, they come in with more details and more mouldings to add." Shop Furnishings & Décor.

To increase the sense of intimacy without sacrificing drama, Brooks and Alicia settled on a dome ceiling finished in faux marble and highlighted by a stunning oversized chandelier. "At first, the scale of the lighting we looked at wasn't proportionate to the house. Our designer, Henry Vittetoe, pointed out that a regular-size chandelier would look like a pendant." Though the chandelier they selected looked "gigantic" in the showroom, it fit the space perfectly.

Further contributing to the "cozy factor" were triple archways that mirrored the window style of the adjoining solarium, and the soft gold palette played out in the Oriental rug, wall paint, and furniture.

Located at the heart of the home, and dividing the great room and kitchen, is the pub. "It's not really a room, but a space defined by columns," says Alicia. The intricately detailed corbels, panels, and columns comprising the bar are made not of wood but paintable, stainable resin. "I picked out the architectural elements I liked, and my cabinetmaker was in charge of making it all come together and work. The bar looks like it came out of 18th century Europe, but cost just a fraction as much."

The richness of mahogany, introduced in the kitchen island and reiterated in the pub, establishes the decidedly masculine tone of Brooks' study. Underscoring the effect are a fireplace with lion's-head corbels, walls with crackled-leather faux finish, and wide-plank hardwood flooring stained as dark as possible to give it an aged appearance. A hand-carved alabaster chandelier, slate fireplace surround, and light-admitting French doors offset the darkness.

The objective in designing the lower level was to unify the game room, wine grotto, and theater into one large, open space rather than compartmentalize them. At the suggestion of Select Woodworking, Brooks and Alicia concealed the media speakers within the walls and built the projector into the crown moulding. Chenille sofas were soon replaced with leather, which stood up much better to kids, food, and everyday wear.


Brooks and Alicia took full advantage of products and materials that created a lot of impact without a lot of cost. "We added a number of small gas fireplaces," says Alicia. "They're relatively inexpensive now, and easy to ventilate. You don't have to have a separate masonry chimney, just a flue."

Consequently, fireplaces were installed in the great room, media area, study, master bedroom (at the foot of the bed) and bath (at the end of the tub), each with its own unique hearth, mantel, and surround treatment. "The indoor fireplaces create ambience, and they're beautiful to look at. Fireplaces made from manufactured stone or carved from limestone brought a whole new element to what you can do."

Equally compelling are the home's ceiling treatments. "They're phenomenal," says Alicia. "When you see them on a blueprint, you can't really appreciate the end result. That's where the designer, builder, and millworker came into play. We couldn't really appreciate it until we saw it all come together. It's truly a layering process; just when you think it's done to the hilt, they come in with more reed-and-ribbon, rope, or dental mouldings. It's like frosting on a cake. It made the rooms extra special."


Everything came together beautifully during the final months of construction. In the last couple months, the house changed noticeably on a daily basis. "How fun is that, to come in and see something new every time!" says Alicia. "On some days, there were 20, 30 people here. It looked like an army. It takes a really good supervisor to pull it off."

"We love living on the water. In winter, when it's icy and the sun is shining, it feels like Michigan. In summer, we feel like we're at a Southern resort."

And a few other things, too. First of all, the Gerlingers advise educating yourself. "The more you know, the better. Figure out what you like, think it through in advance. Bring pictures to the table to illustrate your ideas; a picture is worth a thousand words, and you're more likely to get what you want." At their first meeting with the Residential Designer, Alicia brought along a stack of file folders filled with ideas she'd been collecting for years.

Also important, they say, is educating your designer. "There are so many choices to make; with the global market, you can get anything anywhere. Meet with your designer before you start building so they get to know your style. That way, the selection process will be less overwhelming. Of course," she adds, "you first have to know what you like."

Alicia also recommends going to the trouble of researching online any materials and manufacturers you might consider using. "You'll be less surprised at the cost; things can get away from you otherwise. But if you research them in advance, there's less sticker shock."

Her final piece of advice: be sure to make yourself available during the building process. "A lot of decisions have to be made along the way, either by phone or in person. If you're not available, things might not get done to your liking, and it's not easy to fix them once they're done. It makes the builder's job easier, too."

Though they expect to build yet another home once the children are grown and gone, Brooks and Alicia are content here in Long Cove.

"We love living on the water. In winter, when it's icy and the sun is shining, it feels like Michigan. In summer, we feel like we're at a resort in the South."

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