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Home of the Month

You’d never know it by the care they’ve taken with the furnishing of their home’s interior, but Donna and Craig Manchen would much rather be outside.

When the Cleveland, Ohio, couple built their two-story home in Estuary in Naples in 2005, they got themselves an open-air living space that lets them have their wish. Where’s the formal living room? In someone else’s house.

Their lanai living room rivals any indoor counterpart. There’s a fireplace on one wall flanked by cozy, tile-base benches. There’s plenty of comfortable seating in the form of brown wicker furniture cushioned in cream and paprika leaf. Above, three ceiling fans with woven wicker blades keep the temperature balmy, even on warm evenings. Their cockatiel, T-bird, is happiest on the lanai, they say, perhaps because of all the living that goes on there.

On one side of the pool and spa, a summer kitchen keeps the man of the house content while he grills steaks. His culinary kingdom comes with an ice maker, refrigerator, wet bar and grill. His grill fare is usually enjoyed in the third segment of the outdoor space, a roomy dining and cocktail loggia that faces the lake and the golf course.

"We didn’t want an outdoor area that was only pretty to look at," Craig says. "We wanted one we could really live in."

Perhaps it’s no accident that the Manchens, longtime area vacationers and former north Naples dwellers, were drawn to a London Bay Homes courtyard floor plan dreamed up by California architects.

"We are casual people, and we loved the casual character of this plan," Craig says. "In addition to the ideal outdoor space, the interior gives us one large great room with two dining areas, an open kitchen and a family room. We were impressed at how smoothly the outdoor and indoor areas blended."

The Manchens, who are retired owners of an automotive accessories manufacturing business, chose Mediterranean from the three style options they were offered, but they preferred the casual interpretation rather than an elaborate version for the 5,200-square-foot floor plan.

For example, the flooring used throughout the main living area inside and out is brown and cream stone block. Dramatic in pattern but rustic in character, it succeeds in being visually exciting and disarmingly casual at the same time.

The kitchen gets its informal personality from the variety of materials. The center island cabinetry is painted bronze and green and is fitted with a brown and cream granite top. The side counters are of a different granite, however, and the wall cabinets have an antiqued ivory finish. The beamed ceiling adds yet another layer of Mediterranean charm.

Donna says she loves to cook in such surroundings. For quickie indoor meals when the weather’s inclement, she serves on a wood trestle table snuggled up to a window banquette. Paprika wicker chairs cushioned in gold, cream, paprika and sage supply extra seating when friends and family visit.

"We decided to work with Romanza, London Bay’s in-house design division," Donna says. "We’d seen their work and liked it, and we felt they were familiar with the floor plan and could give us the benefit of that experience."

Working with Melissa Allen and Jennifer Stevens, the couple chose a floral tapestry for the upholstery on the high-back chairs that surround their oval dining table. A candle-bulb chandelier with scrolled arms is a graceful companion to the furniture.

"We had to have an appropriate entertainment center in our family room," Donna says with a smile. "Craig loves to watch sports."

When they’re not playing golf, they both like to watch televised golf. In fact, Grey Oaks’ golf facilities were one of the main reasons the Manchens chose to build their four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home in Estuary. Another was the location, convenient to the downtown district and beaches the couple likes to frequent.

The Manchens have a cushy gold sofa and a chaise for their television-viewing comfort and a tapestry wingback chair in the corner for reading. Their seven-month-old Havanese, Ricky, frequently joins them to watch TV.

"To accent the Mediterranean theme, we used a lot of arches for our entries and radius-edge design for the walls," Craig says. "There are arches on each side of the kitchen. One leads to Donna’s office, and we have our wine bar and cellar beyond the other."

There’s also a bar upstairs and a sitting area that provides Internet access for guests. Visitors are treated to resort facilities by virtue of a game room, where a game table, poker machine and electronic games create a casino atmosphere.

There’s a twin-bedded guest suite on the second level, done in black and white, where the couple says they hope their two sons will someday bring them grandchildren. The main guest suite is dressed in bronzes and browns and has its own luxurious terrace facing the golf course. This is such a cozy spot that Donna admits she spends time here herself.

Downstairs, a cabana suite with cathedral ceilings, decorated in white and green, is another private retreat for guests. Its walnut-stained floor and tropical furnishings make it hard to choose whether to be in or out.

The homeowners’ personal quarters include a sand and water-blue bedroom equipped with a loveseat and embellished with a hand-painted tray ceiling. "An artist took a sample of the drapery fabric and painted the birds from it on the ceiling," Donna says.

Beyond a lavish master bath, Craig has his office.

"We had our choice of lots when we bought," Craig says, "so we selected one with a double fairway view and a preserve on one side, which enhances our privacy."

The preserve also adds a lot to their outdoor views, and that made this outdoor-loving couple especially content.

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