The ‘surprise’ chateau in Cedar Ridge |

The ‘surprise’ chateau in Cedar Ridge

Only once in my life have I discovered a castle at a yard sale, and it happened a few weeks ago.

A friend told me about the community yard sale in The Cedars. Driving around to the various sales gave me a good excuse to enjoy the variety of homes: Modern, colonial, Southwest and many styles in between.

Suddenly I’d have sworn I was in France’s Loire Valley (not Cedar Ridge), looking at a stately, welcoming chateau. The expansive, verdant front lawn set the stage for this masterpiece, and I was smitten! Here is a home I’d really like to write about, I thought.

Having lived most of my life in Europe, this particular home brought back many fond memories. Since a dear friend lives just around the corner, I asked her if she knew the owners. She did and kindly introduced me to them: Joe and Glenda Buda, and they were most agreeable.

Although the 5,300-square-foot home is only four years old, it is reminiscent of a castle built centuries ago. Made of traditional stone, it features a dramatic turret which, I’m told, had to be lifted and secured in place by a crane.

Frankly, I’ve seen attempts to emulate bygone eras in homes many times before. There’s always the risk that what looks good on architectural drawings ends up looking more like Fantasyland. Not so here – and the result is a home that has that unmistakable substance, grace and romance of an old-world castle.

“This is a home that’s built for living,” Glenda explained. “Now that our two children are grown, it’s a haven for an immediate family that totals 20 and includes parents Joe and me, our children, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews as well as our gorgeous baby granddaughter.”

“The house is spacious and gracious to accommodate many guests,” Joe pointed out, “yet it offers lots of privacy. For example, each bedroom has its own en suite bath. Although our offices are upstairs, when we have company, Glenda and I tend to live downstairs – and let the guests enjoy the upstairs bedrooms as well as the game-and-fitness room … where you’re likely to hear Nora Jones’ music as well as the sound of a pool game.”

The turret houses the great circular staircase that leads to the charming rooms above. One of the guestrooms features a beautiful wooden crib in a room full of dormer windows, nooks and crannies in the traditional, old-world style.

Large and gracious, yet warm and cozy.

While the communal areas such as the great room, dining room and the game room are large, the bedrooms are small, cozy and private – with bucolic, garden views. Each is an ideal place to read a book or take a nap.

The large, apple-green kitchen is full of practical charm. As I looked around, I wondered where the refrigerator was. Joe quickly clued me in. “It’s in that large armoire.” I could imagine leisurely meals and snacks around the large, square island unit in the center – the ideal place to share news and stories as well as a glass of Bordeaux.

While the colors throughout the home are soft and neutral, they provide the perfect backdrop for fascinating artifacts such as the French street-scene painting above the traditional fireplace in the great room, the ornate wood bookcase, the tasteful lamps, and the vintage dolls on display in a provincial-style cabinet. Lots of accent colors are used strategically as well, such as the bright-blue hydrangeas on the mantle. Since music is a family passion, the piano behind the large, comfortable furniture, looks poised for action at the next gathering, after a relaxed meal in the large dining room that overlooks the front garden.

“We designed the media room so it’s just off the great room, and it’s an ideal place for younger guests to watch TV or listen to their kind of music. That way, they can enjoy their freedom without interfering with ours,” Glenda explained. She’s right. It’s a nice alternative to great open floor plans that offer so little privacy.

Montana stone, combined with well-planned insulation, keeps the home cool in summer and warm in winter. The day I visited was very hot, yet I felt completely comfortable – without any air conditioning on at all! In the winter, the heat from the magnificent fireplace in the great room keeps the downstairs area toasty warm.

Look at those Gemini Roses!

The Budas’ love of tradition is evident outside too. Their Versailles-style rose garden features over 80 rose bushes that create a medley of pink-and-coral blooms, pleasing shapes and heady fragrances.

The swimming pool is an ancient Grecian style bordered by jardinières filled with Japanese Boxwood and needlepoint ivy. “I am partial to the graceful lines of both the garden and the house,” Joe told me. “We feel completely at home here, and so do our guests.” There’s something about this place that makes life in the slow lane feel blissful.”

“Before we go inside again,” Glenda quickly added, “just look how well these Gemini Roses are doing. I think they like it here as much as we do!”

On our way back to the house, we walked through a small courtyard at the front, complete with a delightful little wall fountain and an inviting table and chairs. Surely, a good cup of French roast would taste even better here, especially if Nina and Binx, the two resident rescue cats decided to join you. Come through the front door, with its leaded diamond panes, and you’ll see a perfectly centered view of the pool in the back garden. What a picture!

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not just the style, size or location of a home that intrigues me. It’s discovering that magical connection between home and home owner. Obviously, when a property is custom built, the connection is clear and personal, and the Budas’ home is as personal a home as I’ve ever seen. It’s as if a Monet painting has come to life. You can almost hear Debussy’s music playing in the background. Frankly, the result is so engaging you simply never want to say “au revoir.”

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