Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you find it. Such was the case for Shellie and Mark, who upon buying a newly constructed home in Geneva National, also discovered an unexpected change in lifestyle.
Mark Diestelmeier and Shellie Ott were not in the market for a new home. Far from it. That is, until they received an unsolicited offer in March of 2019 for their four-bedroom, Craftsman-style Kenosha home.
“We weren’t planning on moving until the kids graduated college,” says Shellie, mother to two UW Milwaukee students: a junior and a freshman. “But then a great opportunity to sell came along, and we took it.”
Like most home buyers today, their search started online. “We were looking for something closer to my job in Milwaukee,” says Mark, an attorney for an insurance and investment firm, “but a certain listing for a house in Geneva National kept calling to me.” And so, he listened.
The couple wondered how the destination would measure up to its online representation. As it turned out, they had nothing to worry about. On their first visit to Geneva National, Shellie was sold. “It was a gloomy, rainy Sunday morning in late March,” she remembers. “We were barely inside the first security gate when I said to myself, ‘Oh, I want to live here.’” Taken in by the rolling fairways, mature woodlands and frolicking wildlife, Shellie and Mark knew they had found their dream neighborhood. Now they just needed the address.
After touring several single-family homes in the stately golf community, the couple could not find, in their terms, “the right connection.” That is, until their realtor contacted one of Keefe Real Estate’s agents, who showed them builder John Giampoli’s four Omega Home models within Geneva National. “Each model had something special to offer,” remembers Mark.
When he and Shellie arrived at the third model, the Isola, named for Giampoli’s grandmother, the couple knew they were home. Tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac in the woods, the three-bedroom ranch with a lower level walkout truly resonated with them. “It’s like John built the house we wanted, on the lot we wanted, before we knew we wanted it,” says Mark.
Designed to Impress
Each Omega Home is designed with a show-stopping entry, yet Mark and Shellie entered through the garage. Their initial impression was no less impressive. “The first thing we saw were these two kitchen islands comprised of a sea of thick granite, which opened to a bright living and dining area with 9’ coffered ceilings and enormous windows overlooking the woods,” recalls Mark. “I love to cook and entertain, so I immediately started imagining preparing food for friends and family in this kitchen with everyone gathered around.”
The Isola model kept checking the boxes with a private office accessed by gracious French doors, an elegant master bedroom with an ensuite bath, and a finished lower level featuring a patio walkout, kitchenette, and picturesque views. “There’s a feeling. Home is a feeling,” says Shellie. “And this was it.” Within moments of entering the home, the couple exchanged glances, a signal to one another that their search would end here.
The Lake Lifestyle
Within three months, Shellie and Mark were putting down roots in their freshly built home, just in time for summer in Lake Geneva, referred to as the “Best Small Town in America for Adventure” by USA Today. Their first exploits? Keeping local home furnishing stores in business, followed by diving headfirst into the renowned, relaxing lake life.
“Inspired by the blue tones in my grandmother’s china, the color scheme of our new home was markedly different,” says Shellie. “So we shipped off our old rust and butterscotch furniture to college and started shopping in and around Lake Geneva,” says Shellie. Between antiquing in Delavan and repeated purchases from Brick and Mortar Home & Outdoor, not to mention a pièce de résistance hand-hewn dining room table from Heritage Beam and Board, the house became a haven. The final accent pieces, an orange tabby and calico cat, were sourced from Lakeland Animal Shelter.
“We could have easily staged this expertly-detailed house more elegantly,” notes Shellie, “but we made a concerted effort to make the interior casual, to suit who we are.” Lake life will do that to a person, or a couple, in this case. From sipping cocktails in their Adirondack chairs from Pier 290 to picnicking along the shore at George Williams College’s Music by the Lake, Shellie and Mark truly have settled into the resort lifestyle. The kids, likewise, are thrilled to have such a fabulous destination to bring friends home to during the summer and holidays. Shellie also likes to invite her girlfriends over to spend the day exploring, shopping, and trying new restaurants.
“We have enjoyed slowing things down, appreciating life with fewer things and more intention,” says Shellie, who admits to breaking out the backgammon board much more often now. “We are spending time with the kids, other family members, and friends as often as we can. And this house helps us do so because of its open design for entertaining, and its quiet location bordering a beautiful lake town.”
The move, in Mark’s eyes, has been unexpectedly therapeutic. “This house speaks to us in fundamental ways that restore our energy,” notes Mark. “We find ourselves spending more and more time on the deck and patio because the yard is so peaceful and full of deer, turkeys, birds and the occasional fox.” He adds, “This community was gently placed in nature. The longer we’re here, [the more] we realize it was done purposefully with living amongst nature in mind.”
For that reason, they agree that their slightly longer commute (the only downside to moving) has been more than worth it. “It’s clearly home when I come in the gate,” says Mark. “I feel a weight lifted. And there’s usually a deer or two to welcome me home. This is our sanctuary.”
ABOUT OMEGA HOMES
After over a 35-year homebuilding career in and around Chicago, John Giampoli homed in on the Geneva National community, where he had purchased many lots over the past several years.
“As I studied the market, I believed I could carve out a niche by offering high quality spec homes at a reasonable price,” says Giampoli. “GN is such a beautiful community; I knew the houses would sell. Especially because there are so many people who don’t want to go through a year or more of designs, construction and waiting.”
Such was the case with Omega Home buyers Shellie Ott and Mark Diestelmeier, who had a buyer on the line and needed to move quickly.
“Everything was already done in the Omega model home,” says Mark, “and with such care and detail. We really appreciated the additional touches that we would not have imagined incorporating, like the 9’ coffered ceilings, enormous doorways, granite bathroom vanities, rain showers, and the hefty shower doors. It’s an impeccably, elegant home.”
“The architectural standards in the GN Community are stringent,” says Giampoli, “and they dictate how we design and construct our homes.”
“After we bought our house, John scheduled a meeting to introduce us to the home, point out the special touches that he thought were important for us to know, and make sure we were satisfied,” says Mark. “He really does care about the homes he builds even after the closing.”
In Mark and Shellie’s case, the landscaping for their Omega Home was installed after their purchase. “With the plantings and uplighting, our home is gorgeous during the day and night,” adds Mark. “John’s team did it right. They really go the extra mile. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
Since 2017, Giampoli has built 12 model Omega Homes in Geneva National and one build-to-suite single-family house.
“John is determined to build a quality house that people are going to love– and that will be the last home you’re going to want to live in.” Such is the case for Mark and Shellie, who plan to retire in their Omega Home.
By: Barbara Karabas
Photography by: Aliza Baran