Italian Villa



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It is all based on biblical number symbology, Marsha Kreighauser explains as we gaze up into the soaring illusionistically-painted dome of the Italianate home she created over the course of a year alongside husband Donald, a contractor and owner of Tidewater Applicators, who promised her a dome if she’d marry him. 

Perched on a 1.7-acre point extending into the Lynnhaven River in the Little Neck section of Virginia Beach, the two-story, four-bedroom home embodies her passion for a Mediterranean Old World aesthetic she developed on trips abroad.  And the mural in the dome, with its emphasis on the numbers 12 and three, personifies her embrace of the New Testament message of hope but not in a proselytizing way.

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A three-day-per-week cardiac nurse and four-day-per-week faux finisher, this owner of her own business, Wall Creations, modestly claims that she just “copies” or reproduces what she’s been taught.  Her home, a showcase for her individual approach, would suggest that is hardly the case. 

Warm and harmonious with a consistent color palette of golds, creams and reds, the home’s formal but welcoming public and private spaces radiate out from a central gallery beneath the dome. Just inside the double mahogany front doors, a diminutive foyer functions like a pause, allowing guests to take a breath and take in the views as they enter—views not only of the sumptuous interior but the alluring water—both the river and the pool—framed by expansive windows that wrap three quarters of the home.

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Marble, stone, porcelain tile and skillfully painted faux finishes blend seamlessly throughout. Marsha’s touch is deft and subtle, the exquisite finishes belying the hour-upon-hour and layer-upon-layer of work required to develop the rich patinas, elusive shading and mouthwatering textures of each and every one. Somehow, with the matter-of-fact and understated enthusiasm of a true artisan, she manages to make walls such as those created from hand-plastered, rolled, cracked, stained, sanded and painted strips of burlap in “The Pompeii Room”—aka the pool room—sound simple. And even fun.

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Though it was built 20 years ago, the home still wears its timeless charm well.  Gracious spaces and generously proportioned columns, arches, niches, corbels, medallions, urns, statuary, fireplaces—three of them—and fountains, both inside and out, keep the look consistent and flowing through this 5,700-square-foot home.  But Marsha’s eye for restrained detail ensures that others’ eyes are “flooded with interesting things to look at” while avoiding “gaudiness.” An office wall hand-rubbed with olive oil soap or a foyer wall finish with mica crystals lends an indescribable luster while stenciled relief designs impart texture without overwhelming pattern.     

A circular stamped and stained concrete drive in the same warm red of the architectural roof shingles, a trio of garage doors faux-painted to match the wood of the front doors and the relaxed formality of free-form hydrangeas integrated with manicured shrubs and towering Italian cypress trees, keeps the look cohesive from the inside out. Hints of whimsy here and there, such as a landscaped chessboard with life-size game pieces, prevent the home from taking itself too seriously.  

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With this house on the market, a daughter’s June wedding to plan and a grandchild on the way, Marsha is retiring from both of her vocations this spring. “I’m ready for another chapter,” she asserts, “ready to be a local grandmother,” while also devoting herself to charitable work dear to her heart. And the setting for this new narrative? It is likely to be a world apart from the “Old World,” more “beachy” and contemporary. But one thing is for sure: it will bear Marsha’s irrepressible and inspirational creative and hand-crafted stamp.

View more photos and take a virtual tour of this home on Zillow.com (3116 Rivers Edge Cv).

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