By Allen Cox | Photos by Dane Gregory Meyer
When Jon and Jeni Kitna purchased their lakeshore property in Lakewood in 2002, it was with the intent of eventually building the family home they’d dreamed of. Kitna’s 15-season career in the NFL had taken the couple and their family to four states. Many homes later, plans for the home they’d one day build and settle in long-term began to take shape.
“This house is the culmination of about seven different plans we drew up ourselves,” Jeni says, recalling the process. “The final plan we drew had all the features our family needed, but we realized if we built it, it would look a lot like a spaceship.”
That’s when the Kitnas got serious about enlisting the help of a professional. When Jon played for the Detroit Lions, the family lived in a home in Michigan that inspired many of the details they put into their Lakewood home. Michigan architect Kurt Couture worked with the couple to develop plans for their 7,900-square-foot home.
Outside, the Kitna home resembles an old-world country manor house with brick, wood and stone exterior materials. Inside, 21st-century conveniences and touches of warm contemporary style make the home perfect for a modern family like the Kitnas. It’s built for kids to grow up in. That means durable materials and furnishings, all without sacrificing style.
Upon entering the foyer on the main floor, which is the second level, a grand two-story living room opens up with a tall window overlooking the lake. The kitchen, dining room and cozy hearth room also occupy this floor with equally commanding views. These three rooms form one mammoth space, large enough for guests and family to gravitate to the kitchen, a hallmark of the best gatherings.
“People like to hang out in here,” Jon says, referring to the hearth room, dining area and kitchen. “Sometimes we have 20 or more people over and there’s plenty of room for everybody. I like people to feel at home here.”
A luxurious master suite rounds out the main floor along with a mudroom and laundry/craft room that’s larger than most New York apartments. The grand staircase leads from the foyer to a library on the spacious landing, and then on upstairs to a bridge overlooking the living room and lake.
Upstairs belongs to the children, ages 5, 9, 13 and 14, with ample bedrooms and facilities for plenty of privacy and room to play. The four kids even have a say in decorating their own rooms.
The bottom floor houses a big family room, game room and entertainment bar and opens onto the back covered patio with outdoor living area, fireplace, TV and a full outdoor grill kitchen. The rear of the property terraces down through landscaped beds and a lawn to the lake, dock and a beachside fire pit.
During the construction process, after the shell of the house went up, the Kitnas couldn’t wait to move in. They spent the summer in the basement, kids sleeping on the floor, while crews worked on the two floors above them. But they were absentee owners throughout most of the construction process. Jon was playing for the Dallas Cowboys, which kept him and his family from being in town to witness the progress. As many construction projects go, Jon and Jeni imagined they’d arrive home to the wrong color flooring, tiles installed in the wrong places and light fixtures in the wrong rooms. But, on the contrary, everything was perfect.
“Our contractor, Jim Tartaglia, got every detail exactly right,” says Jon, grateful for his smart choice of builder.
Working on the home’s interior has been a joy and a slow process for Jeni. When she finds the right detail, accent or furnishing, she nabs it. The end result: clean lines, restful yet lively colors and a warm atmosphere that is a perfect place for the Kitnas to call home.
According to Jeni, Jon and the kids have perfected throwing a football in the living room along a precise path to avoid hitting any lamps, pictures or ornaments. So far, owing to some pro skill that might be rubbing off on the kids, no casualties.
Naturally, Jon also added a sports court to the front driveway. “My only regret is that I didn’t put one in the back yard too,” he says.
General Contractor: Jim and Laurie Tartaglia, Belltag Construction, 360.686.1742
Architect: Kurt Couture, Couture Associates (Milford, MI), 248.685.3512
Landscape Design: Bradley Design Group, bradtree.com, 253.272.4848
Subcontractors: Foxhead Framing; CJ’s Plumbing; Moreau Excavation; Capital Lumber; Milgard Windows; A & J Electric; Mr. Irrigation Landscaping; Demar Co. (flooring, tile, etc.); Jose Lopez (labor); Parkinson Painting; CR Cabinets; Airtight Heating; and Interpac Marble