By Shayna Mace | Photography by Shanna Wolf
When George and Toni Flaherty want to escape everyday life—they simply have to drive 50 minutes from their Hawthorne Woods, Ill., home up to Lake Geneva. Once they arrive, not only are they transported to a lakefront paradise, but to an estate that feels worlds away—steeped in an Old World European aesthetic.
“The attraction was the castle-like look to it,” says Flaherty. “It was new construction, and updated. We looked at quite a few homes, and many of them needed a lot of work. So, this one was turnkey.”
Enchanting might be the right word for the home, which as Flaherty understands, was built in 2007 with a Disney castle feel in mind by the former owners with Orren Pickell Building Group.
“The previous owners had five young children, and the wife wanted something very similar to Cinderella’s castle,” explains Flaherty. “[It’s loosely based on] that movie, and that’s what they started with.”
Flaherty notes that the third-floor loft was even decorated in a princess theme, and features a fun semi-hidden spiral staircase. (The couple has since changed the décor in that room to a nautical blue and white theme to suit the lake view.)
That incredible historic detail carries throughout the house—most notably right in the home’s turreted stone front entryway, with stairs that spiral up to the second floor. An arched wood front door complements the period-perfect details.
“[The previous owners] wanted an Old World castle feel, which is why we did the stone turret on the front and carried that into the interior where the stairs are actually built into the stone masonry walls of the turret,” explains Eric Pickell, sales and marketing manager with Orren Pickell Building Group. “Then you have windows built into the stone as well on both sides. [This house also has] exposed beam work and a lot of the same stone elements that are on the exterior [were also used] in the interior.”
Adjacent to the front entryway is the library—one of the many
showpieces of the home. Featuring a built-in bookcase that takes up
one wall, wrought-iron beam details, an opulent light fixture, comfy,
traditional furnishings (some of which feature cowhide details) and two sets of discreet sliding doors to keep the room private, it’s a room that George frequently uses to hang out or take business calls in. Peering out the windows he can even enjoy the lake view.
Even though the look of the home is historic, it’s built for present-day, family functionality. A spacious mudroom with cubbies allows the Flahertys and their four adult children to have space to hang their jackets and bags when they visit. A utility table in the center of the room allows for laundry folding (as the washer and dryer are also in here).
It’s connected to the kitchen, which is the nerve center of the home—and a favorite spot of Toni’s. The Flahertys frequently have large family gatherings here—sometimes 40 to 50 people—and the kitchen can accommodate parties with ease with plenty of bar-height seating, an expansive granite-topped island for food prep and a farmhouse table that seats 10 to 12 people. Plus, the kitchen’s double refrigerator, wine fridge, additional icemaker and three ovens mean that there’s always something cooking or chilling to drink.
Everyone can also enjoy each other’s company in the adjacent living room that has a Wisconsin limestone fireplace, traditional furnishings and comfortable throw rugs. Hand-scraped wooden beams echo the cozy feel. Even though the home itself is stunning—the lake view can’t be beat just mere feet away via the expansive floor- to-ceiling windows that showcase the vistas spectacularly. (This house is one of the few in this neighborhood that’s actually on the water, says George).
Upstairs is a quieter, private sanctuary for the Flahertys and their guests. Each guest bedroom features either an en-suite or jack-and-jill bath for total comfort. The Flaherty’s grand master suite has lake views from both the bedroom and bathroom—and even a private balcony that they can step out on anytime.
Part of the ornate master bathroom is actually located in the home’s second, smaller turret on the back of the home. With his-and-hers vanities, oversize shower and even a beverage cooler, the couple can relax with ease. The pièce de resistance is the porcelain soaking tub in the turret that offers 180-degree views of the water situated below an ornate antique candelabra with glass votives.
“The tub has great views,” affirms George.
Of course, when they’re hosting large family gatherings, or even smaller dinner parties, the Flaherty’s lower level offers more space for everyone to spread out— and even a few spots to have a drink or a carefully chosen glass of wine. The custom bar with curved detail (located at the bottom of the home’s smaller turret) has a flagstone surround and is a cool, period-perfect place to have a drink and relax.
“We didn’t change anything here—it’s a great bar. I loved how they [placed it in] the turret [with] the stone [detail]. They really utilized that turret as a neat feature on all three floors,” says George.
If there’s another part of the home that’s the crown jewel, the couple’s custom wine room would be it. Located in the turret in the front of the home and completed by the Orren Pickell Building Group in 2017, it’s George’s favorite spot in the house. The temperature-controlled space can hold up to 1,000 bottles of wine that the couple have picked up in Italy, Spain, California and the Northwest. A bar-height table with chairs is a convenient spot to open bottles and hold tastings.
“We wanted to reflect the features from throughout the home, so we used lights that look like torches and the stone detail to make the room a cellar itself,” says George. “[My friends] like the ambience and they like hanging out in here. I have trouble getting them out of here!”
And of course, that was also the Flaherty’s vision for the home—that others could treasure it with them.
“This is a really great place to share with family and friends. It’s a nice thing to be able to [experience] it with other people,” says George. “We don’t look at this [house] as something that’s ours to hold on to—it’s ours to let other people experience it and share with them too.
The Lakeshore Living publications are published by Nei-Turner Media Group, a full-service agency located in Lake Geneva, WI. Our four publications cover the picturesque lake communities of Lake Geneva, Madison, Lake Country and Northwoods.
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