Stylish Hospitality

By Nancy Miller

Photos by Tim Valentino

Norton Commons is the ideal neighborhood for Jae and Dave Neuman. They visit restaurants, attend concerts at the amphitheater and take in movie nights on the great lawn. One of their favorite pastimes is taking their two-and-a-half-year-old twin grandsons in a golf cart to play in one of the children’s parks or drop into a shop for a gelato treat.

Making friends with their neighbors solidified their connection with the area. As much as they liked their surroundings, they wanted more privacy.

Jason Black, of Artisan Signature Homes, who also lives in Norton Commons, had the perfect solution: build a new home away from the hustle and bustle but still within Norton Commons. The Neumans chose to build a two-story, 4,400 square foot house on a lot that overlooks the 100-acre parkland where wildlife is in abundance. Artisan Signature Homes situated the Italianate-style house on the lot to allow for a side yard.

“We were very candid with Jason about what we wanted. Most important was an open floor plan in which the living room, dining area and kitchen flowed into one another. A first-floor master bedroom was also a must,” says Dave, a retired executive with Yum! Brands who is now an organization development consultant with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

Also on the wish list was a two-car garage and a golf cart garage. For Jae, Jason designed her requisite large walk-in closet and a spacious pantry off of the kitchen. “I’m crazy about the pantry. I can see all my stuff. I don’t have to open a thousand cabinet doors for a bowl,” she says. Dishes, serving pieces, food, wine and liquor are all neatly arranged and easily accessible.

Throughout the design and construction process, Jason and his partner, Jimmy King, collaborated closely with the Neumans. “I’m the big picture guy. Jimmy is the get-it-done guy. He came up with lots of surprises, like the limestone with a chiseled edge on the exterior columns,” says Jason.

Jae, co-owner of Center Stage Dance Company, thinks of herself as eclectic while her husband is attracted to more modern architecture and interiors. They reached a happy medium in the home that displays a character of quiet sophistication. “It went really well although I thought I would lose my mind when he wanted to pick out door pulls,” Jae chuckles. She sought the assistance of Karista Hannah of Set the Stage Interior Design & Home Décor for color, cabinetry, tile, finishes, flooring and lighting options.

“She totally got what we were looking for. Because I second guess myself on décor, I like to hear other people’s opinions, whether it’s a designer or a friend, in case I didn’t think of something,” says Jae.

The Neumans selected solid, four-inch-wide white oak flooring to establish a warm personality for the first floor. Off the living room is the foyer where an Artisan Signature Homes trim specialist built a lattice over the wall.

Corner windows in the living room bring in a copious amount of natural light. “I’m not big on window treatments so I went with plantation shutters that seem appropriate for the house,” says Jae. Since the house overlooks the park, not another residence, the shutters are rarely closed at night.

The main architectural elements in the room are the coffered ceiling and a chevron-pattern fireplace with silver-edged tile. Jason suggested the installation of half bookcases instead of towering bookcases to flank the fireplace.

“My wife is always wanting to change the furniture. I’m surprised she has kept me for 32 years,” jokes Dave. A blue and cream-color rug was the couple’s big splurge in the living room that’s subtly distinguished by gray walls and simply crafted white molding. An iron-base, glazed wood coffee table and a winter-gold light fixture provide textural contrast to the soft rug. A gray sofa with nailhead trim made the transition from their previous home.

A delightful nod to the frequent presence of little visitors is a low children’s table next to the kitchen island that is integrated into the space. Relatives and friends gather around the dining area’s farm table that’s dressier than it is rustic. Over it hangs a brushed nickel chandelier. Jae’s collection of crystal is displayed in a glass-shelved china cabinet. The dining area opens onto a covered porch and patio, the scene of lively cookouts for as many as 24 people. 

In the kitchen, black granite countertops set off the white perimeter Shaker cabinets and complements the pattern granite on the island. Behind the Thermador range with stainless steel hood is a clear subway tile backsplash that reveals the blue-green wall behind it.

The gray palette continues into the master bedroom. A crushed velvet bed, four-paneled mercury glass dresser, large silver-framed mirror and a pair of light blue swivel chairs are compatibly at home.

In the master bath, offset diagonal gray ceramic floor tile is complemented by silver mosaic tile in the shower. A chandelier with a drum shade and teardrop accents plus beveled mirrors between sconces over each of the vanities add a hint of sparkle.

Two upstairs bedrooms were designed for guests. One has a trundle bed for the Neuman’s grandsons. A kids’ toy land, half-moon wingback chair is fun and whimsical.

“I hope our home says I care more about people than my house. You can come in and touch anything or sit anywhere. Sure, I want it to look nice because I like pretty things, but not at the expense of people. I want our home to be inviting, but not a showplace. People won’t remember me for my house. They’ll remember me for the way I treated them when they were here,” says Jae. VT