A little piece of the French countryside is emerging on Garden of Eden Road in the Talleyville area of Wilmington, courtesy of Reybold Residential, which is putting the finishing touches on an active over-55 gated community called Columbia Place. The 17 single-family homes stretch across the western side of the site and wrap around to the south. Two condominium buildings form a border to the east of the property, while townhomes fill in the core of the 150-unit community. The residences range from to 2,900 to 3,500 square feet. Several families have already moved in.
Owner/developer Jerome Heisler was decisive about the exterior style and enlisted architect Daniel Ball to execute a French country aesthetic. The result is best described as transitional contemporary with some French country influences. By the time the interior designers were brought in, the look of the exteriors had been well established.
Candice Ober, the design manager for Reybold, worked hand-in-glove with Henrietta Heisler, who owns her own local design firm and is Jerome’s cousin. “When I came into the project,” Ober recalls, “we wanted to have a feel, on the interior side, of a place that’s welcoming—a beautiful palette, very clean, consistent throughout the community. The tones are calming. We didn’t want to do a classical white [and] wanted something with a little more ‘oomph’ to it.”
Top-of-the-line fixtures like Kohler are used exclusively. “We really wanted to provide a quality product,” Ober says. “Most homebuilders, especially production builders, give you builder-grade material, which is kind of the bottom of the barrel.” When potential owners visit the model home created by Ober and Henrietta, they are seeing substantial upgrades.
“Jerome wanted something very unique and specific that no one else was offering— he wanted it to be very upscale, which is why we have copper faucets, real mahogany shutters and doors, and locally quarried stone,” Henrietta says. The model home boasts upscale Daltile and a quartzite Perla Venata countertop with a triple pencil edge, while the appliances carry the respected names Thermador, Sub-Zero and Wolf. The kitchen pendants—frosted white glass with a brushed-nickel finish—are from Visual Comfort. The stools are Bernhardt.
The bedroom is anchored by a sumptuous Santa Barbara Bernhardt bed with a sandstone wood finish. The flooring, engineered wood with random width planks, delivers the requisite country feel. “It’s a very special place to live,” Henrietta says.
While the style of the exteriors has been fixed in place, new homeowners can make their mark on the interiors. “Once we sell the home, the owners meet with me, and they sit down with me and we go through all their cabinets, countertops, flooring, plumbing fixtures—all of that,” Ober says. Given the demographic, this isn’t anyone’s first home, “so they have an idea of what they want.”
Homeowners run the gamut of being immediately satisfied with the base design package to planning a totally customized home with a personalized floor plan, and everything in between. One homeowner came in and wanted to make sure that the basement would be suitable for a wine cellar. Another had high aspirations for their bathroom and specified a heated mud set—a shower floor and a seat within the shower made toasty with radiant heat. “It really provides that extra level of luxury,” Ober says, approvingly.