By Shelby Deering | Photography by Shanna Wolf
On a plot of land nestled alongside Lake Monona, Tom and Anne Conti brought their slice of California wine country right to Wisconsin.
During a trip to Napa Valley, the couple looked around at all the modern, sophisticated residences that dotted the region and realized that this was exactly what they wanted in their “someday” home — the generous use of wood finishes, the slightly industrial feel of the steel accents and a bright white exteriors with black detailing.
Coining the term “Napa Modern” as their vision for this home, the two purchased a lot with a house on it just three-quarters of a mile down the road from their previous home, tore down the home and started their new build on what they consider to be a nicer lot in a neighborhood they still love.
Across the street from a park with a playground, Tom and Anne could envision their young family in this location. With three children in tow (Will, 10; Claire, 8; and Charlotte; 5) and their dog, Roxy, they wanted to build a house for the long run with their family in mind.
“We thought about the different ages of our kids now and into the future and wanted to design a house that all of us loved living in,” Tom shares.
Situated on property that’s elevated from the lakefront and perfectly flat, they knew they could build the home of their dreams. It didn’t hurt that the lot also had an idyllic view of the Capitol and came with a boathouse built into the shoreline.
Carrie Simpson, owner and lead designer of Vault Interiors & Design, helped the Contis bring their dream to life. Before construction, the designer met with the couple to conceptualize the full home, which included furniture planning and selections, material and finish choices, and cabinet design.
Working with Aldo Partners and Tepper Architects, the process took 18 months from start to finish. Simpson explains that the planning took several months before construction began.
The timing for the Contis’ move-in couldn’t have been better.
“We moved in three months after the pandemic hit and we feel very fortunate we were able to get into our new house at the start of COVID,” Tom says. “It gave us the space we needed at a time when everyone was staying safe at home and allowed for us to hang out all together, enjoying each other.”
With 6,000 square feet of space, including a finished basement, the family has plenty of room to stretch their legs and then some. The couple continues to work from home full-time, which gives them plenty of opportunities to further soak up their abode.
The children also maximize the spaces. The three particularly adore a room just off the kitchen that’s become a hub for homework, crafting and LEGO- building. Anne says the kids are in there constantly, calling it, “a place to land.”
When they’re not in this space, the kids can be found in their personalized bedrooms.
“I loved that Anne and Tom wanted each of their kids to have a space that was reflective of their unique personalities,” Simpson says.
While family-friendly, the house has no shortage of luxe touches, from the swanky living room bar to the quartz- bedecked bath to the cozy primary bedroom that overlooks the Madison skyline.
The couple is hoping to share their home with more friends and family “as we get back to normal times,” as Anne puts it, although they have had some opportunities for gatherings, including hosting Tom’s large family last summer. That’s when they utilize their sizeable outdoor areas filled with seating.
While the home can certainly stand on its own, the surroundings really can’t be beat. The boathouse provides the best views of the lake, which Tom says makes you feel as if you’re “right on top of the water.”
“In the spring, summer and fall, we can set up a movie screen and an outdoor projector to watch movies and sports down there,” he says. “We all love doing that.”
Additionally, the family enjoys watching bald eagles fly over the lake “and all the random critters that play in our yard,” Anne says, adding, “the significant amount of windows and natural light make even Wisconsin winters tolerable.”
While Napa may be thousands of miles away, the Contis have their own serene oasis right here in Madison.