Six years ago, Mike and Kathy Brechon first discovered Geneva National, a resort community located off the shores of Lake Como, while visiting with close friends. Attracted to the scenery and the amenities offered, the Brechon’s made the decision to purchase their own condo within the community in 2009. Initially spending their weekends there, they soon grew to enjoy the community so much that they decided to make Geneva National their permanent residence and build their dream home.
The Brechon’s vision for their home in Geneva National involved combining inspiration from their primary home in Rockford with influences from vacation homes they had enjoyed for years with their children near Charleston, South Carolina. While scouting out the perfect homesite, the Brechon’s came across the neighborhood of Geneva National known as “The Reserve.” They were struck by how much the wetlands of the area reminded them of South Carolina and decided this was where they would build their new home.
“With the cattails and natural ponds, it just felt like home,” Kathy said. Back in Rockford, the Brechon’s home, where they had raised their three children for 28 years and where many of the bedrooms were now empty, felt too big for the two of them. Both Mike and Kathy wanted to downsize. It was their builder, Scott Lowell, who gave them some very wise advice that stuck with them:
“Don’t build for five percent of your life. Build for ninety-five percent of your life”
The Brechon’s did in fact build for ninety-five percent of their life, and now live comfortably in a simple yet elegant, home. It is the perfect size for the two of them, nestled among a landscape of scenic prairies, wetlands and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. With four bedrooms and five baths, the home exudes character. For example, the exterior was designed with stone white shiplap, and the roof is made of black asphalt shingles, which provide a contrast. Similarly, the interior features light colors such as white, cream and gray, accented with black fixtures throughout.
“Our house back in Rockford had a similar color scheme that we wanted to carry with us, light colors, with accents of black, and a very clean feel,” Kathy explained.
For Kathy, classic and traditional lines were important, as well as symmetrical design. Stunning views from both the back and front of the house is just one example. Lake Como can be seen in the distance from the front, while the back boasts a beautiful pond and in the distance, framed by the green manicured fairways of the Gary Player- one of Geneva National’s award-winning golf courses.[metaslider id=”1593”]
Similar to most homes built today, the first floor of the Brechon’s home has an open floor plan where the kitchen, sunroom, dining room, and a small parlor are located, creating a greater sense of space and contributing to the home’s open views. Kathy initially wanted to have a couch in the parlor, but designer Judy Bethel recommended creating a space that she and Mike could enjoy together. Today, the parlor has four tub chairs placed around a circular coffee table and is the spot where the Brechon’s enjoy sipping their coffee and enjoying their majestic views. The master suite is also located on the first floor in a separate wing. The Brechon’s enjoy their serene views well into the cooler months with their retractable screen porch that can be controlled with the touch of a button.
The second floor of the home was designed for guests and contains two bedrooms that are connected by a Jack and Jill style bathroom. The upstairs bedrooms have an outdoor porch which connects the two rooms from the outside, a feature that was recommended by Lowell, who explained that it would make the home more symmetrical from the back.
“We’ve never built the same home twice. Each client has a different need and a different lifestyle. The design is completely created around their lifestyle, needs and wishes and that’s one of our strengths”
Kathy was inspired by the lake when she began decorating the walls of the second floor. There, a ring buoy is displayed with the words “Welcome to the Lake” written on it. Additionally, the second floor is equipped with a coffee bar in the hallway between the rooms and contains six lettered mugs displayed on top, one for each of the Brechon’s three children and their spouses — making the new home a place where their children are encouraged to visit. As Kathy said, “The kids enjoy coming to visit, and I think that’s a really good thing. I want the kids to say, ‘Oh, let’s go down to Geneva National for the day’.”
Scott Lowell explained specific details that went into building the Brechon’s custom home. “We were diligently working on space. The house is set up for phenomenal views and outside living as well. It was totally customized to fit their lifestyle,” explained Lowell. “They are empty nesters with the family still around, so the house had to be designed for the two of them as well as for additional family members who frequently come to visit.”
While their home in Geneva National may be new, the Brechon’s have already filled it with memories from their past. There are decorative pineapples displayed throughout the home as a symbol of welcome and hospitality in Charleston which Kathy has come to love, as well as some personal pieces that were brought from Charleston and from their home in Rockford.
Living in the Geneva National community has been a wonderful experience for the Brechon’s. Not only do they enjoy their charming home and the wide array of amenities that Geneva National has to offer, but they have been able to create new memories while holding onto the old. The home itself is most emblematic of this as it is a tribute to the life and memories they have created and the time and effort the Brechon’s have both put into their home to make it a true work of heart.
Photographer: Matt Haas
By: Danielle Gensburg