Pictures of Berivan Ortega
Columbia Place, Wilmington’s newest 55+ community, offers a gorgeous aesthetic with residences inspired by the French countryside.
A little piece of the French countryside emerges on Garden of Eden Road in Wilmington’s Talleyville neighborhood, thanks to Reybold Residential, which is putting the finishing touches on an active 55-plus-year-old gated community called Columbia Place. The 17 single-family homes extend along the west side of the site and wind around to the south. Two condominium buildings form a boundary to the east of the property, while townhouses fill the core of the 150-unit community. Residences range from 2,900 to 3,500 square feet. Several families have already moved in.
Owner/developer Jerome Heisler was decisive with the exterior styling and hired architect Daniel Ball to execute a French country aesthetic. The result is best described as transitional contemporary with some French country influences. By the time the interior designers were brought in, the look of the exteriors was well established.
Candice Ober, Head of Design at Reybold, worked hand in hand with Henrietta Heisler, who owns her own local design company and is Jerome’s cousin. “When I came into the project,” Ober recalls, “we wanted to feel, inside, a welcoming place – a nice palette, very clean, consistent throughout the community. The tones are soothing. We didn’t want to do a classic white [and] I wanted something with a bit more punch.
High-end fixtures like Kohler are used exclusively. “We really wanted to deliver a quality product,” says Ober. “Most home builders, especially production builders, give you builder-grade material, which is kind of bottom of the barrel.” When potential owners visit the model home created by Ober and Henrietta, they see substantial improvements.
“Jérôme wanted something very unique and specific that no one else offered – he wanted it to be very high end, which is why we have copper taps, real mahogany shutters and doors and locally quarried stone,” says Henrietta. The model home features high-end Daltile and Perla Venata quartzite countertop with triple pencil edge, while appliances bear the respected names Thermador, Sub-Zero and Wolf. The pendant lights in the kitchen, in frosted white glass with a brushed nickel finish, are by Visual Comfort. The stools are Bernhardt.
The bedroom is anchored by a sumptuous Santa Barbara Bernhardt bed with a sandstone wood finish. The flooring, engineered wood with random-width planks, provides the required country feel. “It’s a very special place to live,” says Henrietta.
While the styling of the exteriors has been fixed, new owners can leave their mark on the interiors. “Once we sell the house, the owners meet with me, and they sit down with me and we go over all of their cabinets, counters, floors, plumbing fixtures — all of it,” Ober says. Given the demographics, this isn’t anyone’s first home, “so they have an idea of what they want.”
Homeowners go from immediately gratifying the basic design package, to planning a totally custom home with a custom floor plan, and everything in between. An owner came by and wanted to make sure the basement would be suitable for a wine cellar. Another had big aspirations for his bathroom and specified a heated mud package – a shower floor and seat in the shower heated by radiant heat. “It really provides that extra level of luxury,” Ober says approvingly.
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