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Friday, January 01, 2010

Colorful and Comfortable

Unlike many vacation retreats or retiree habitats, Jim and Joyce Sciaretta's Smith Mountain Lake house is home to a family.

Oldest son Michael lived here briefly until his marriage to Rachel in 2003. Daughter Alexandra was in residence seven years before graduating from Franklin County High School in 2009 and heading off to college. Son Chris, 16, a junior at FCHS, is a full-timer. One-year-old granddaughter Payton spends a couple days a week visiting Grandma Joyce, who baby-sits.

            The Sciarettas love the informality of lake living.

            "We have no formal living room and no formal dining room," said Joyce. "We don't live like that. We're very informal people."

            The Montego Bay home has a great room that Jim describes as "well lived in" that flows uninterrupted to the kitchen, with an eating area en route. It's all very open.

            Joyce describes the decor as "cottage style." It's a lakeside version of English Country, with comfy furniture that invites visitors to sprawl on the couch. This style typically uses colors from nature - reminiscent of an English country garden. Joyce chose the various coordinating fabrics and had the upholstery and drapery work professionally done.

            "I love color, cozy and comfortable," she said.

            Also typical of this decorating style are collections. One of the Sciaretta's most treasured is a family photo collection that lines the hallway and covers the top of several furniture pieces. Joyce also collects Brambly Hedge English books and china and has prints by illustrator Tasha Tudor, a Caldecott Medal winner, on display.

            The charm of outdoor Southern living is evident in the large windows that draw magnificent lake and mountain views into the house. There's ample space to have a cup of tea on the intimate patio outside the master suite or to entertain a crowd, such as the guests at Michael and Rachel's wedding, on the large patio off the kitchen. The ceremony itself was on the level, grassy point which has since been the site of volleyball games, horseshoe contests and bocce ball games in the specially installed clay bocce court (similar to a clay tennis court). It's an easy walk - no stairs involved - to the dock, where a personal watercraft, two boats and two kayaks are housed. The home's 450 feet of shoreline also includes a natural sandy beach.

            "When we were living in Ohio and planning the house, we told the architect that we wanted it to look like it had been here a long time," said Joyce.

            Jim added, "We got that look by having different ceiling heights and six different roof pitches, as if from several successive additions."

            The only actual addition, built two years later, was a pergola added over the patio where the wedding reception tent had been. Wisteria is being trained to cover the structure, but with only one year of growth, it just reaches the roof.

            The Sciarettas, both born and raised in New Jersey, first visited the lake in 2000 while living in Cleveland, Ohio, and quickly decided to make SML their home. Jim's business - investing in real estate and stocks - was easily relocated. He and his brother-in-law, Gene Butterfield, teamed up as contractor and builder.

            They broke ground on Sept. 11, 2001.

            "I got a cellphone call asking if I was watching TV," Jim said. "I said, 'What do you mean? I'm standing in a hole. There's no TV around here.' We saw the tragic events later on the evening news."

            Nine months after the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., the four-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot home was finished.

            "We expect to grow old living here," Jim said. "The lot is flat with no steps to the dock; the house has all the primary living spaces on the main floor, including master and guest suites. There's no basement. The second floor has the children's rooms."

            Interesting use has been made of often-wasted attic space. An interior stairway leads to the garage attic - a large, finished room with a pool table. Another attic space houses a workout room, and what the homeowners call the 'super attic,' the very highest one, has been claimed by daughter Alex. Her large loft - a combination bedroom, study area and lounging space - is painted appropriately wild colors. Her former bedroom has been turned into a guest/grandchild bedroom.

            Outside the home, it's evident that Joyce enjoys gardening. The prolific hydrangeas and other flowers reflect the pink and green color scheme of the inside. There's also an extensive herb garden.

            "We especially love this area because of the peacefulness, the beauty and all the nice, friendly people here," Joyce said.