Modern touches with Old World values.
Old World values set off by contemporary accents make Caroline and Danny Epifano’s home a personal statement
NEARLY FOUR YEARS after Caroline and Danny Epifano’s custom-built home on the outskirts of Cambridge was finished, curious Sunday drivers are still slowing down to take a look — and some of the cheekier ones even pull into the driveway.
Not that this hard-working couple really minds. At 4,700 square feet of above-ground space, the Epifanos’ home certainly >>
>> is larger than most, but it is the design that makes it such a standout. And the design is Caroline’s.
For Caroline, “custom built” meant working side-by-side with an architect through every draft until her vision was fully captured.
“From that moment on, it was all about soil testing, permits and hiring trades for every phase of construction,” Caroline says. “While the footings, foundation and the framing was going on, we were out researching our exterior and interior trade products.
“From mason, brick and window choices to the total interior design of the kitchen and bathrooms, plumbing hardware and fixtures, all flooring, doors and trim, carpentry, staircase design, lighting, paint, wallpaper … You name it, we chose it all.”
If that sounds exhausting, it was. But there was more. “Although at times it was super, crazy busy doing all of it for this house, we also planned our wedding — a lovely big Italian wedding — in the midst of it being built,” Caroline says.
Both Caroline and Danny, a Cambridge native who has been in the drywall business for nearly 20 years, were thrilled that the end result truly reflected who they are as>>
>> a couple. They moved into their dream home in July 2011.
“We were heavily involved every step of the way, heart and soul, in an attempt to create a great, flowing layout that Danny and I could truly enjoy and that our guests would feel comfortable in,” Caroline says.
“We love and believe in the beauty of the timelessness of classic design, but we couldn’t help but bring to it a touch of modern too.”
Visually stunning with a rustic, inviting look, the exterior elevation was inspired by European manor-style homes. That theme extends to the interior where there are similar hints of the Old World: rustic black spindles, antique-style chandeliers in the
kitchen, a four-metre island, seven-inch barnboard-influenced hardwood floors and stained-glass transforms over the main doors.
“I knew I wanted our home to resemble and have nuances of an old French manor,” Caroline says. “I love the elements of copper-turned-green, old stone, brick and wood, high-pitched roof tops, finials … and just that rustic, worn-but-beautiful appeal. I’m always keeping up when it comes to the latest interior looks and trends. But I always try to work in the look of the exterior into the interior, if even just small hits here and there.”
Hard-pressed to pick a favourite room, Caroline does have a soft spot for the kitchen. “I’m a foodie and I love to experiment and prepare good food,” she says. “Our kitchen is open, allowing for many people to gather comfortably.”
Danny’s favourite is the games room, which sports everything from a full-sized wet bar to poker and pool tables to sports memorabilia, all while maintaining the coziness of a family room.
The staircase is also a point of pride — Caroline was heavily involved in its design. Its open risers, thick planked steps, and custom-crafted, curvy lines make it a natural focal point of the house.
“I embraced the project from start to finish and can’t wait to do it again,” Caroline says. “My husband and I share a strong ethic in general, but when it comes to the home, I bring that drive for organization, efficiency and planning. Everything needs to run and present as best as it possibly can … always.”
Asked whether it was an agonizing wait from the early design stages to the final product, Caroline says it was all worth it.
“Of course, as with any project there are unexpected setbacks, but Danny and I were able to work through it,” she explains. “There were some spaces where we faced major delays and that was >>
>> extremely frustrating, but the end result of one particular space was amazing. The true, old-fashioned craftsmanship — you know the kind that’s hard to find nowadays because most things are mass-produced — comes through. It’s fantastic and I have to say it was worth the wait.”
Right now interior design is a hobby, but Caroline hopes to eventually dedicate more time to her passion.
“I’ve always had a passion for the arts,” Caroline says. “As a child, I used to fill my sketch pads with everything from home elevations to fashion. My dad was a contractor and used to frame houses. Although he was never formally trained, he was well sought after because of his passion, precision and workmanship. I can remember as a little girl looking at each page of a floor plan and trying to figure it all out. It was a challenge I loved. My dad would test me to see if I really understood what I was looking at, and I used to love the smell of the freshly printed blueprints.
“I’m intrigued and influenced by the different cultural décor of eras gone by. And although I majored in business administration, I minored — with far greater enthusiasm — in visual arts and art history.”
Caroline was pleased to collaborate with local architect Alan Paton of Home Image Plans, and is thinking of doing it again in a couple of years.
“The current house is a lot of space, maybe too much for just the two of us. In a new house there’s not much I would do different aside from downsizing a bit.”
Working through another project doesn’t faze her.
“When you love doing something, it never feels like a chore. My friends and family are forever seeking my advice and help when it comes to new builds, plan revisions, renovations, redecorating, paint selection … It brings me great pleasure when I’m able to help others bring their own vision to fruition. I’d love to one day soon be able to focus strictly on my love and passion for creating all sorts of beautiful spaces.”
So does Caroline have any words of wisdom for others who might be considering taking on the mammoth task of a custom build?
“Be patient, take your time and really research what you want and how to make it function well and flow,” she says. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to seek the input of a seasoned professional who really understands how to make a design vision come to fruition.
Caroline Epifano’s design sense embraces the combination of classical elements and touches of modern decor.
Danny and Caroline Epifano were thrilled with the finished house, feeling it reflects who they are as a couple.
The games room has pool and poker tables as well as a wet bar, but retains the coziness of a family room.
The attention to detail and the contrast of contemporary and classical elements is reflected in every room of the house.