After living in three lakefront residences, Alex and Kathy Hahn had a distinct vision of what their fourth (and Kathy says final) waterfront home would look like. They had collaborated on condos in the Winton Place and Cashelmara developments and a home in Bay Village. So as they approached their fifth decade of marriage, they decided to build from the ground up. With the rustic elegance of a French country manor as their inspiration, they created a 10,000-square-foot chateau in Avon Lake.
Design partners: Concept to finish took several years, but not because of any design disagreements. "We work well together," Kathy says. "We know what we like." And when you've been together as long as they have — since they were teenagers in Franklin, Pa. — you learn what's important: "If it doesn't have a heartbeat, don't worry about it," she says.
The French connection: Kathy insisted on adding brick to the home's Ohio limestone exterior despite design experts' desires to keep it all stone. "In France, they added to the homes with whatever materials were on hand," she says, explaining the combination's historical significance. Other Old World influences can be seen in the stucco wall finishes, massive stone fireplaces (seven altogether) and 2-inch-thick mahogany doors. She completed the French country feel with luxurious fabrics, oriental rugs, classic antiques and some great pieces from Habersham.
Ruling the roost: The patinated rooster adorning the cobblestone wall at the home's entrance is much more than lawn ornamentation. Hahn actually means "rooster" in German, and several art pieces throughout the home feature the handsome fowl.
Personal touches: Many features were Alex and Kathy's ideas, such as the oversized granite mantles, the distressed mirror over the fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling shower doors that open both ways. Several art pieces, including the muted image of an olive tree, are enlarged photographs she took during their European travels. Alex designed the striking rock wall exterior landscapes that feature cascading waterfalls and flowering plants.
Great outdoors: Three levels of outdoor living space make for fabulous entertaining. The tiki hut is Alex's center of operations during summer parties as guests flow from terrace to terrace to catch the views, including one of the Cleveland skyline. "People always tell me they feel like they're on the Mediterranean," Kathy says.
Must-have: Alex sent Kathy to pick out the garage doors, but when she returned with her choice — expensive copyrighted versions of carriage house doors from the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina — Alex began a search of his own. Ultimately, nothing compared to the richly stained, cedar-planked doors with seeded glass insets, and Alex, too, decided on the pricey doors.
Craft brewed: A large craft room contains a 12-foot-long table, a multitude of sewing machines and a wall of drawers for organizing everything Kathy uses to make quilts and jewelry. "It's my hideaway," admits Kathy, who is teaching her granddaughters the art of quilting.