An Evans couple was not afraid to make changes to their original ideas when they built the home of their dreams.
In the summertime the best place to find Fallon and Brandon Zapata is usually Clarks Hill Lake. After all, they even met each other at the lake. “I was 13. He was 12. Our families had houses next to each other,” Fallon says.
Last year, however, they went to the lake two times the entire summer. Perhaps their new home in the Founders Village section of Champions Retreat – and their backyard pool and outdoor living space – had something to do with that.
The Zapatas moved into their house in February 2017 after living in Knob Hill for seven years in the “bachelor’s house” that Brandon built.
“I wanted a house that felt like it was mine, too,” says Fallon.
The Zapatas thought the area would be the perfect place to raise their two sons, Brandon, 9, and Cohen, 5. “We knew this was where we eventually wanted to build together,” Fallon says. “Both of our families live five miles from here.”
Brandon, an electrical contractor, did the electrical work in the house.
The extra touches begin in the foyer, which features marble and wood flooring.
“The marble and wood floor in the foyer has a shiny, glazed look,” says Fallon. “The glaze gives the foyer a formal look.”
The formal look extends into the dining room. The space features hardwood flooring, crown molding around the ceiling and white wall molding. The walls also have a faux finish, which gives them an aged look, and the glaze on top of the paint makes the walls shimmer in the light. Beaded wall sconces add a hint of elegance to the room as well.
“The dining room is the most formal room in the house. We wanted one room to have a formal touch,” Fallon says.
In the rest of the house, however, the Zapatas went for a different ambiance. Pine walls and beams in the ceiling give the office a rustic atmosphere while the living room is a gathering spot for friends and family.
“We wanted an open floor plan where you can see from the kitchen to the living room,” says Fallon. “We wanted the living room to have a comfy feeling where you could feel comfortable sitting down. We wanted an inviting atmosphere inside and outside.”
The living room features hardwood flooring, a brick gas fireplace with a wood mantel, brick arches on either side of the fireplace, sliding glass doors to the outside area, a coffered ceiling and wood shelving. The glass-front cabinets beneath the brick arches were custom-made for the space.
The adjoining kitchen includes the same marble and wood flooring found in the foyer, but without the glazed finish. The room also features granite countertops on the island and leathered charcoal granite on the perimeter countertops. “They don’t steal the show from the island,” says Fallon.
The island, which is stained along with the center cabinet on one of the walls, has antique glass on each end. The island’s hammered stainless steel farmhouse sink includes a magnetic piece on the apron, which can pop out to change the design.
While the stained cabinet has frosted glass-front doors, the rest of the cabinets are finished with glazed paint. The room also includes a walk-in pantry, lights underneath the cabinets, a decorative backsplash, a vegetable sink, double oven, gas cooktop, griddle and a pot filler.
The gray crown molding in the kitchen matches the trim in the breakfast area, which also features marble and wood flooring. Double glass doors lead outside to the pool and covered porch. “We have a nice view of the backyard and pool when we eat,” Fallon says.
A powder room, which conveniently has a door to the outside, includes marble flooring and a tile sink with a decorative drain.
The butler’s pantry, tucked between the kitchen and the dining room, originally was supposed to be a hallway. The wine room, which features a brick wall in the space that the butler’s pantry was going to occupy, was a last-minute change to the house.
Courtesy of the granite countertop on the island, the Zapatas made a major change to the décor as well.
“I started out with a dark color palette. I was going to stain everything brown,” says Fallon. “I was not a gray fan. Gray was nowhere on my radar. Then we found the piece for the island top, and everything flipped. We changed the color palette from dark to an oyster, or briar, color.”
The backyard overlooks the eighth hole on Gary Player’s Creek Course at Champions Retreat Golf Club, and the covered porch offers a relaxing spot to enjoy the view. The covered patio includes a stone wood-burning fireplace, TV and ceiling fan.
Brandon likes to spend time in the porch sitting area in the evenings. “You can sit outside to get away and relax,” he says. “I like to play basketball with the boys and let them practice fishing in the pool.”
The pool features a hot tub on top of the grotto, an open area of the pool that mimics a cave; a pair of fire bowls; a diving rock and a sun shelf. The Zapatas can relax by the pool on a trio of low-slung, linear chaise lounges with boxed bases and a low-slung, box-based daybed.
The look of the buff-colored pitted concrete around the pool was achieved by adding salt rock to the concrete, and seating at the outdoor table includes four chairs and a bench.
The outdoor kitchen, which is Brandon’s domain, includes a grill, a smoker and an ice sink. Granite countertops sit on top of a stone foundation.
“If there’s any cooking going on, I’m doing it. But I’m not chef at all,” says Brandon. “We kept the outdoor kitchen simple and easy.”
“The master bedroom is my favorite room in the house,” she says. “It’s hard for me to leave it in the morning. I leave the door open some mornings and just listen to the waterfall.”
The master bedroom features a trey ceiling with decorative trim. The trim areas are painted light and dark blue, and the ceiling itself is painted a lighter shade of blue.
A chandelier hangs in the sitting area, and the bed features an upholstered headboard and footboard. “We have lights that hang from the ceiling instead of tabletop lamps to give us more room on the nightstands,” says Fallon.
The adjoining master bath features a heated marble floor, marble countertops and a stand-alone tub. A decorative tile backsplash matches the center design in the walk-in shower, which can be entered from either side.
Fallon has a built-in vanity on her side of the master bath while Brandon has a built-in armoire. “With the vanity and the armoire, we have something tall on both sides of the room,” says Fallon.
The master bath also leads to his and hers walk-in closets. Fallon’s closet features an island in the middle and a bench under the window. Her handbag collection is displayed on glass shelving, and her shoes are lined up neatly on the shelves. Hanging clothes are shielded by mirrored doors.
Another bedroom has been dubbed “Maria’s Room” because that is where Fallon’s aunt, who often babysits for the boys, spends the night. The room features a chandelier and pink and black décor. “I have two boys, but I wanted a feminine, girly room,” says Fallon.
The adjoining bath includes granite countertops, and the tile pattern on floor matches the tile in the walk-in shower. “I love it,” says Fallon. “I come in here all the time just to look at it.”
The Zapatas even included a “bedroom” in the laundry room for their 5-year-old Maltese, Stella. “We left a cabinet open and painted it inside so it looks finished,” says Fallon.
Cohen’s bedroom has a nautical theme while Brandon’s bedroom has a cow theme. That’s only fitting, since the boys and their dad, along with Brandon’s father, “Pop,” spend nearly every weekend at their family farm in Lincolnton. “We fix fences. The boys ride their four-wheelers, and they have to find every mud hole they can,” says Brandon.
They got some Nigerian dwarf goats for Fallon in an attempt to entice her to the farm. As cute as they are, though, the goats nevertheless don’t see much of her.
When they’re not on the farm, the Zapatas can enjoy the latest technology at home. “We did a lot of home automation. We have audio in every bedroom and bathroom in the house,” says Brandon. “We can turn on the lights or open the garage from our phones. Everything we can do in the house we can do from our phones.”
The movie room features black trim, gray walls, sconces on built-out columns, “clouds” painted in the gray ceiling and a mural that depicts the famous Hollywood sign at night.
“I got to have a lot of fun with this house,” Fallon says. “I like it when it all comes together.”
By Betsy Gilliland