Tour of Homes: Hospitable Home

donna ison


“It was very, very important to us that when people walked in the door, they felt welcomedWe want them to feel comfortable, like they can plop down, and make themselves at home,” says Rhonda Bell. Her husband Kip adds, “People ask if they should take off their shoes. No, we live here. We want them to sit down, relax and stay a while.”

But that was only one requirement these “empty nesters” had for their downsized dream house. Rhonda, who is recently retired from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, states, “We wanted an open concept. We also knew we wanted a split bedroom design with the guest suite on one side and the master completely private. We knew we needed three to four bedrooms, an office and a bonus room.”

Their home, built by Vickie Rosok of Premier Home Builders, provides all of this and much more. Located in Tuscany neighborhood of Hamburg, the residence has a multi-colored brick and stone exterior with an arched entry and windows. Aside from a generous second-floor bonus room, a great room, owner’s suite, two guest rooms with a roomy full bath, separate office and laundry are located on the ground floor. 

For furnishings, the pair combined upscale pieces from local stores, including Lexington Furniture, Norwalk, Burke Furniture and Housewarmings with antiques, estate sale finds and family heirlooms, including pieces built by Kip’s father, to add a sense of hominess and history. As in all Premier homes, Prosource provided the flooring, which in the main living area is a warm walnut wood with distinctive grain. Elegant lighting from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery and Brock McVey illuminates the residence.

The result is an interior that is classic, yet cozy and is a personal reflection of the Bells. Rhonda says, “I loved the collaborative process of working Phillip as a designer. We had a blast and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

Upon stepping through the front door, you find yourself in a bright and airy room with a formal dining area lined with Doric columns to the left and large den with attached kitchen and breakfast area just beyond exemplifying a functional, open concept.

Rhonda says, “When my family comes, we all just like to be together, so whether you’re eating in the dining room or at the bar or breakfast area, we’re all still together and can yell at each other. And, when we cook, we didn’t want to be segregated from our guests.” She adds with a smile, “Or each other. Kip travels a lot with his job, so when he’s home, we like to spend time together.” Kip traverses the state as a Mine Safety and Health Inspector at U.S. Department of Labor. 

When home, Kip relaxes in the spacious den. With coffered ceilings, a trio of towering windows, built-in bookshelves for family keepsakes and collections and a gas fireplace with stone front, the room strikes the perfect balance between cozy and classic.

The adjacent kitchen embodies both pretty and practical. “When we built, we wanted to make sure everything could be used and cleaned up easily,” states Rhonda. A durable, large island with a black marbled, quartz countertop from Artistic Granite has an inset sink, ample room for food prep, and seating for three. Custom cabinetry from Castle Cabinetry in white houses a pantry, tons of storage, and extras like a spice drawer, pull-out microwave and plate drawer, which make life easier for Rhonda with her petite stature. Stainless steel appliances accentuate the sleek style and are echoed in the silver hardware. Over the island, brushed metal chandeliers with crystals imbue the kitchen with additional sparkle.

A cheerful breakfast nook with a wrought iron and glass table, floral fabrics and parson’s chairs affords the perfect place for a relaxing cup of morning coffee. 

The master suite is traditional at its finest. Lofty tray ceilings hang above a stately mahogany bed adorned with sumptious bedding and pillows in luxurious fabrics from faux fur to silk in shades of creams, golds and browns.

But, it is the closet, with its built-in shelving for shoes and handbags; multitude of hanging racks; and three-way mirror replete with flattering lighting and a dressing bench in zebra print, that most pleases Rhonda. She says, “I love this closet. It’s my favorite. I use this mirror at least two time a day. I sit on the bench and do my hair here because I can see it from every angle. And, we can hang all our clothes here, so we don’t have to switch out winter and summer.” 

The adjoining master bath is primarily white with a marbleized vanity and accents of mosaic glass tiles in several tones of gray. It boasts a glass-walled, walk- in shower, soaking tub, and vanity with his and hers sinks and sophisticated silver sconces. 

On the opposite end of the home from the master suite lies a pair of guest rooms and full bath allowing visitors to have their own serene space. The well- appointed laundry is also located at this end of the house. In it, there is a very special tiny room built for a very special member of the family—their dog, Emmie, a Lagotto Romagnolo. “When we moved in, I told her, ‘This is your room,’ and she went straight in and made herself at home. She often goes there to nap all by herself.” 

Another favorite spot of the couple is the patio. “We love to sit outdoors on summer evenings and enjoy the warm weather, so having a covered outdoor space for seating and a TV was important. We also really enjoy sitting with friends around the firepit in the evening.”

The paver patio was constructed by Adam Jackson of Corridor Land Services. The outdoor oasis features comfortable seating, including sofa and chairs, a high-top table for casual meals, and flat-screen TV. Lanterns, tropical patterns on plates and throw pillows, and a modern ceiling fan add an island vibe.

Of course, no backyard is complete without an area for outdoor cooking, especially when you love to grill as much as Kip does. “We grill year-round. He will sweep snow to get to the grill,” Rhonda explains, with a laugh. His “man grill,” as she refers to it, is an industrial stainless-steel model with a natural gas-line leading to it. 



What is your building philosophy?

Quality and amenities CAN be affordable. So many people think of a custom home as being out of reach when, actually, it’s just the opposite. Many of our clients, whether downsizing or starting out, may not have a need for a huge home but still want nice amenities and special features. We use the same quality building materials, regardless of the size of the home, and design the home around the clients wants and needs. We eliminate cost for square footage that won’t be used to allow the client to elevate the finishes in the home.

What questions should a client ask themselves before starting a construction/ renovation project?

How do they envision the finished project and what is their true budget. Sounds simple, but sometimes actually setting these goals can be the biggest challenge. Once a look, style, or over all feel for the space has been determined then through our design process and guidance we can help the client achieve their goals for the finished project.

What is your favorite space in your own home and why?

Definitely, my kitchen. The kitchen truly is the heart of any home. We have a large island in our kitchen that gets used for EVERYTHING. I knew this island would get a lot of use, so I invested in comfortable barstools. The kitchen island is where we catch up at the end of the day; it’s where our meals are prepared; it draws a crowd when entertaining friends and family. And, if I’m being honest, it’s probably where I will be sitting when I read this article.


What is your design mission?

To create the most extraordinary, yet functional living space through the use of color, pattern and texture in family treasures, found picks and new purchases thus achieving a warm and inviting feeling.

What questions should a client ask themselves before starting a design/renovation project?

1. What’s the overall function of the room?
2. What design style do you want to emulate in the room?
3. If it’s an existing space, what are the likes & dislike of the room? 4. What is the overall budget for project?

What is your favorite space in your own home and why?

I have two favorite spaces in my home. First, would be my dining room—it’s a true example of my design philosophy. I love the peacock blue color; it houses my collection of dishes and serving pieces; and it is where all my friends come together, sit down, and eat like a family. The second space would be the screened-in porch and backyard garden. It’s my sanctuary. It’s where I go to escape the world and dream up beautiful things.


Once the lay-out was to their liking, it was time to focus on the design element. “I wanted it to be practical. And, yet, I wanted it really pretty,” explains Rhonda. For professional guidance, Rhonda turned to childhood friend and owner of Marcum Designs, Phillip Marcum. Together, they decided on a theme of “chinoiserie-inspired traditional.” Rhonda has long loved chinoiserie, which is the use of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions in decorative arts, fabrics, glassware and garden motifs. As for their color palette, they opted for neutral walls with pops of color in art, accessories and custom window treatments from DH Designs. According to Rhonda, “Color adds a richness to each room and, just makes me happy.”