Please be aware that I do not wish to have my photographs published , pinned or repinned on Pinterest.

copyright notice

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Down the Country Lane, Part II

Continued from here 

While staying at the Erma Hotel, in Cody Wyoming, a few years ago Gene surprised me by having a Western Saddle made by famous Saddle Maker, Jim Kelly. 

Mr Kelly was working on a large order for a riding club in Europe. My saddle would not be finished for another 2 years.

That would give us just enough time to find a few acres to keep a couple of horses near our house in the country. 

We lived in the city.

But wanted to spend the weekends in the country. We fell in love with a run down old stone house near Spring City, central Utah.   I called it the "Fellini" house.  It reminded me of scenes from the movie "Amacord"

I located the owner but he wouldn't sell. 

Instead, we found another run down place, a one-hundred year old simple farmstead. I called it "my foot in the door" to the charming little town of Spring City.

We needed to add a guest cottage. We moved this one from across the street.

It needed a little attention.

While we were looking for a guest cottage to move to our old homestead, we found a piece of property with an old log cabin.  However, it was decided that it was too difficult to move. 


and we couldn't get it out of our heads.

While looking for horse pasture we immediately thought of this abandoned farm and wondered if the owner would sell us 5 acres. 

He sold us the entire farm and the pond. The pond is spring fed, flowing at 39 gallons per minute. We immediately filed a patent,  claiming the water rights and waited for my saddle to arrive. 

Two  years later, early one morning, clear out of the blue, Gene asked:
How would you like to build a new house by the Pond?

A new house? Why? I was perfectly happy living in the city during the week and in the country, in our simple little farmhouse,  on weekends.

Within a week I found our new house...in House Beautiful Magazine.  A house that was built for an Italian artist in Callistoga, California. We  contacted the architects.

They provided us with the basic drawings and we designed the rest.
Gene and I had been visiting and studying 16th c. architect Andrea Palladio's country houses in the Veneto Region of Italy. They all had one thing in common, strict symmetry, a hall in the middle with rooms on either side. Perfect for us!

 We were lucky, we found a young builder in our area who was excited about building our new house.

I appointed myself as General Contractor. Being the General was a little like playing Sherlock Holmes.  The Internet, in 1994, was not what it is today.  I spent a lot of time visiting new construction sites...  gleaning information from builders and contractors. 

Building our house was the most wonderful experience.
We only had one mishap and as it turned out, it was meant to be.
While transporting a large custom made glass door to the building site it flew out of our truck and landed in a million pieces on the side of a mountain.  I remembered seeing the ballroom doors from the legendary Hotel Utah in a salvage yard.  They now became our Library Doors instead.

Our house was built and for only minor finishes,  was completed in 6 months.  My saddle arrived at the same time.

The problem with living in a small community is that craftsmen are not willing to make the drive from the big city.

Gene and I laid marble floors on weekends.  It took us 4 months.  The marble is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Gene  remembered heated floors in a castle hotel in Austria. 
For him, it was a requirement. 

We cut heavy pre-cast cement pieces and installed 3 fireplaces.

Gene worked out the logistics of the curved stair finishes

The Rod Iron stair railings were verdigrised.

Our hall as it was photographed for Utah Homes & Gardens Magazine (Winter 2003)

We gilded and painted for months.

We found antique doors from Argentina.

We brought fixtures from our house in the city.

A few years later we added garages, greenhouse and guest cottage. 

And then we added the Barn 

And a Pergola to the west.

We planted a hundred trees to our house.

And we plant a large vegetable garden every year

Flowers and

Fruit from the garden

And we live happily in the middle of an Alfalfa Field

Yep, it all started with the Saddle, or was it the Fellini House?

Have a great Easter Sunday my dear
Blogging Friends



  1. Hello Gina, happy Easter to you. Your story is so fascinating, it could be a movie! "Under the Utah Sun" or something like that. xo

  2. Dear Gina - you are both living your dream, and that is lovely to see. The pictures are spectacular, you and Gene have worked very hard, and it is now nice that you can both enjoy the fruits of your labour.

  3. Hello Barbara, Happy Easter to you on this sunny Sunday morning. Hope it's also shining on Staten Island.

  4. Dear Rosemary, We do take time out and enjoy our life in the country. We hardly ever go to the city and only when we have to. It was fun building a new house and it was a new andwonderful experience for us. I would do it again only next time I would leave the back breaking work for someone much younger.

  5. You two have built an amazing property, but, of course, you are aware of that! Best of all, unlike most people you were actively involved in the creation from choosing the site to figuring out the curves of the enticing stairway and even gilding the tops of those ancient-appearing columns! What a feat! Congratulations on the attempt and even more congratulations are in order for the continuation of the property to what it is today. I love that winter picture with the exterior tree adorned with Christmas balls! The allée looks so inviting - planting 100 trees! Another contest you could run on this blog would be to guess how many bulbs you've planted... but that would involve figuring out the count ahead of time (not an easy task, I'm sure).

    Happy Easter Gina,
    Mary in Oregon

  6. Your house gives the feeling of an original medieval Italian town. I like that you enjoy it so much.

    Cecilia from Hungary


  8. Happy Easter to you and your family, Gina, as Easter's evening light is in the air.

    Your post today has really taken my breath away. I had no idea about how it was that you might have come to live in Utah (and, of course, was very curious, in that quietly remote, relaxed,way that blogging invites.

    Shall I just say wow (!) now, or wait awhile. Time really does not matter. I think it's rather wonderful how blogging does let each of us share what we might wish with others. That is how a community that prior generations could not imagine can be.

    Everything about where you live has transformed my notion about what your "zip code" might have let me believe. What a pleasure it is to know this. Think that some prior comments have also been on this same track.

    Gina, I continue to admire your talent, and thought of you last week when I was seeing some major majolica art at the V&A in London.

    Isn't blogging an intriguing way for folks to connect>

    Happy Easter!

  9. Wow, your home is gorgeous. I love the color and the property. A wonderful story, thanks for sharing. Have a great week ahead.

  10. Dear Mary, It is so satisfying to see those 100 trees growing from little saplings that came in bundles of 25. Since I was a little girl I always wanted a tree lined my house. It feels good to have so many wishes come true. Thank you for your visit.

  11. Hello Stolzer, thank you for your visit. Wherever we travel we see this particular yellow color. It is a happy color.

  12. Dear Meme, Your comment is so appreciated. Thank you for your visit. Hope you and your family had a lovely Easter weekend.

  13. Dear Frances, So true. Blogging has been a wonderful gift. It has been a long time since we visited the V & A Museum. I do remember the vast collection of ancient Italian ceramics and the superb collection of Majolica. I must find an excuse to go see it again.

  14. Hello Eileen, We almost picked another color, a color we see in Italy, an aged pinkish brown. However, we thought better of it...didn't want to be known as the "pink elephant".

  15. Dear Gina, this is such a joy to read, the coming of age of a house that perhaps started as a dream or an artistic vision that you and your talented husband had germinating in your minds eye! You never know how things will go, turn out, but we continue to work and build, striving always to create something beautiful...that at least is what I want to accomplish. You have the most beautiful finish to a wonderful project...and it is still evident in your ceramics. The photo of the mountains with that golden glow, breathtaking! So much inspiration outside your front door...and so much careful thought put into all of it. Thank you for sharing so much, N.XO

  16. Dear Gina,

    I somehow had a vague idea, that your home would be magnificent. How wonderful of you to share it with us, and let us into your home. Its so so beautiful..
    You and Gene Have made a dreamhome and a dream come true. Probably a combination of the two. Your saddle and Fellini.. but most of all it was your amazing foresight. Your little cabin retreat. And now this most stunning villa.
    You are a true artist in every way Gina. Your ceramics and your furnishings are delightful.
    I look forward to reading your posts.. this was most amazing and very enjoyable. I will be reading it again. Great photos Gina.
    best wishes

  17. Your house always amazes me! I love Carlo's home and yours is just as wonderful. The tree lined drive is very inviting. Thank you for sharing more of your home with us!

  18. Oh Gina, what a beautiful story, your house is so beautiful, so ornate, I love your picture and the story. Thanks for sharing, such hard work but so worth it.

  19. Every image shows such beauty, vitality and a life that is happy with each day. I really enjoy your shares and finally remembered to follow your blog;)

  20. Dear Gina - What a wonderful story and happy ending! You and Gene are people of great vision, and your house looks as though it's been standing for hundreds of years. I have focused on that pond and field for so long, but didn't realize what a spectacular mountain view you have, too! It looks like you have created a piece of heaven!

  21. Dear Nella, So true, we never know what Life has in store for us. I never thought that we would be building. It was a most wonderful project and one I would tackle again. And Nella, you have already created something beautiful.

  22. Dear Val, I am so pleased that you liked this post. Gene and I had a wonderful time working on this project. There were never any issues or disagreements. Thank you Val for always being so supportive and thank you for your lovely compliments.

  23. Dear Theresa, One of these days I need to meet Carlo in person. His art is fantastic. His house started out looking like ours (or ours like his) but then it went in another and most fabulous direction. Carlo is a true and original artist.

  24. Hello Judy, how nice of you to stop by and leave such a nice compliment. I am so flattered and I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and comments.

  25. Hi Mary, I'm so happy that you have become a follower. I love your dedication to wild birds and how you have been involved in their well being.

  26. Dear Mark, Our mountain view is to the east and the pond tothe west. It shows the "Horsehoe Mountain". Locals call our town "Life under the Horseshoe". I took the photo with a telephoto lens so the mountains appear very close when in fact they are about 5 to 6 miles away. In the last photo you see everything but the main house. All buildings form a circle with a large horsetrough fountain in the middle.
    The house color and red roof tiles have aged a little over the years...just the way I like it. When we first built our house the locals gave it several names...The Alamo, The Cheyenne Social Club and a friend of ours sent us a postcard from italy and addressed it to the "Yellow Villa".
    Not everyone would want to live in our small community, but it suits us perfectly, that is with a trip to Europe thrown in now and then.
    I actually miss ordering the workmen around...it was so much fun being the boss.

  27. Gina, I love the story of the saddle and the house ! And how things intertwine and flow naturally...you and Gene clearly have such a wonderful passion and energy and the result just blows me away! and oh...this tree lined road...so beautiful... Thank you for your wishes and I hope you too had a very happy Easter....xo Lala

  28. Gina,
    I am blown away by the passion and hard work you and your husband put into creating such a gorgeous place to call home!
    May love and joy reign there always,

  29. Dear Lala, Wish I could join you for one of your special baking days. Would love to learn how to make such beautiful delicacies. Have a lovely remainder of the week. ox, Gina

  30. Dear Merisi, you have no idea what you did to me when you showed this mornings photograph of that fantastic cup of coffee mit Schlagsahne to boot. Thank you for your sweet comment. ox, Gina

  31. Well, Gina, all I can say is that your home is pretty (----) amazing!!
    It's an estate now. With a pond and the mountains and the to-die-for allee of trees leading to your home, not to mention the gorgeous interior... just really, really amazing.

    Oh- I vote for the original dish with the deep well.


  32. Dear Ann, I agree with you. Since I was a little girl, living in East Germany, I admired the tree lined roads to old country farmhouses. As our Allee matures it gets more beautiful every year.
    I'm still hoping that one day you will come this way and I will show you how to paint a Tondini for yourself. ox, Gina

  33. I had to look at all these beautiful images of your home again. Labor of love. is what comes to mind.

  34. Dear Mersisi, So glad you stopped by for a second look. How nice of you. Have a great remainder of the week. ox, Gina

  35. I love this story, I love your dedication to beauty and craftsmanship and I LOVE your home!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It leaves me breathless. xo

  36. Dear Georgianna, I am so humbled by your sweet comment. I'm looking forward to seeing your garden come alive this Spring through your exceptional photographs. ox, Gina

  37. Dear Gina, I just found your blog earlier today from Between Naps on the Porch, and have been enjoying it since. Something about the aesthetics of your blog, home, ceramics, strikes a chord within me. It's perfectly beautiful and serene. I have one question, what is that little sink with the faucet above it called? It's the cutest, most darling little sink I've ever seen. Where would one be able to find a similar one? I'm enchanted by your kitchen too, it's so cozy. You have obviously had a vision and then worked very hard to create it. Thank you so much for sharing it in your blog.

  38. Hello Darlene, Welcome. So glad you stopped by. The little sink is called a "Lavabo". They are a European tradition. The one in my kitchen actually works. It was made by Kohler and was part of their Artist Line. I don't know if they still make it. Most Lababos are only for decoration. You will run into them, beautifully painted, on Ebay, often made in Italy or France.