Finding French Country Elegance: The Cotes’ Custom Home
Carol and Don Cotes moved from Florida to Williamsburg in 2009 to be close to their son, Tim, and his family. And, it didn’t hurt that Tim was a custom builder eager to build his parents the home of their dreams.
“I wanted a French country house,” said Carol, who is retired from sales and has a French family heritage. “So, Tim researched the features of that type of home before he designed our house.” The result is a gracious, 4-bedroom, 3-bath home that combines luxurious amenities with architectural and decorative elements reflecting a French influence.
“French country homes are known for having a mix of stone, wood and plaster,” Carol noted. “So, we have real stone on the exterior, and Tim hand-made authentic, working wood shutters for the front of the house.” The home’s exterior also highlights graceful arches on the front windows, shutters, garage doors, and porch, a feature echoed in the home’s interior. As Carol pointed out, “Arches are very French.”
Wood and stone elements also accentuate the home’s interior.
A stone fireplace –with arched glass door, of course—is the focal point of the family room. The floors on the main level are hardwood, and Carol wanted the house to include some “country beams.” Tim added wood beams in the foyer and designed a striking, coffered ceiling of dark wood beams for the family room. “It’s such a cozy look,” Carol noted. After the home was done, Carol found an old photo of herself and her mother in a small café in France that had very similar wood beams. “It looked just like my house,” Carol said. “I didn’t recall the photo when the home was being built, but that image must have been imprinted in my head when we designed the house.” Tim also added a fireplace mantel that he crafted from a railroad tie to match the beams.
A Kitchen Fit for a French Chef
The Cotes’ family room opens to a large, gourmet kitchen with a 5-burner gas stove and a convection oven with a separate broiler and 7 shelves for baking. A pot spigot above the stove top is reminiscent of kitchens Carol has admired on her many travels to France.
Cabinets beside the stove include dedicated space for Carol’s vinegars, oils, salts, and spices, for easy access when Carol cooks her favorite dishes, such as mussels in wine sauce. The kitchen cabinets are distressed wood, hand done by Tim and Carol’s husband, Don, a retired engineer. “My husband could not understand why we were taking a perfectly good piece of wood and banging it up,” Carol said, laughing. Other kitchen features include Tiffany-style lighting and a subway tile backsplash. Carol noted that one of her “treats” to herself is to collect different colors of Le Creuset cookware. “I have mostly beige, but I also have some great colors, like orange and pink.”
A Surprise from Tim
Carol had always wanted a special place to practice the violin, crochet, and just enjoy a good book. Since Carol and Don were still living in Florida during their home’s construction, Tim secretly designed a lovely, sun-filled niche in the master bedroom to create just such a spot for his mother. “He built me a private litt
le alcove separated from the rest of the bedroom by two columns and hidden bookshelves on either side,” Carol said. “It was a lovely surprise for me, and it’s my favorite part of the house.”
Plenty of Space for Storage and Guests
Another aspect of the home Carol loves is its abundant storage space. “Storage space in this house is massive; it’s almost too easy to buy things and have a place to put them away,” Carol admitted. “There’s no rooting and hunting to find things, and as a housekeeper, that’s great.” She noted that even the garage is oversized, with a workshop that was built by Don.
The home is also spacious enough to accommodate many guests. “We can sleep ten people comfortably,” Carol said. “We’ve had company from all over, and have hosted many holiday family celebrations here.”
Designed to Age in Place
With a lift from the garage onto the main level, master and guest bedrooms on the main floor, doors wide enough for a wheelchair, and handicap accessibility in a main floor bathroom, the Cotes’ house was designed for accommodating those with mobility issues. “My mom was in a wheelchair, and we wanted to be sure she could get around here,” Carol said. “In fact, this past year we have had four separate people visit that could come only because of this accessibility feature.”
Yard Conducive to Entertaining
The Cotes often entertain in their back yard, which is partially fenced and surrounded by privacy-enhancing greenery. “Don is a stickler about his grass, and our lawn is so beautiful that we’ve been named ‘Yard of the Month,’” she noted. Grilling on the paved patio that Don installed himself is made easy with a backyard gas connection, and a covered porch lets the couple enjoy their yard even in rainy weather.
Convenient Neighborhood Location
“The location of this home is amazing,” Carol said. “We live within 5 minutes of William and Mary, the train station, the outlet malls. Plus, it’s only 90 minutes to the Outer Banks.”
The Cotes also love the Westmoreland community. “We really didn’t look anywhere else because Tim lives here and we wanted to be close. But we really like that we didn’t have to move into a community with amenities we wouldn’t use. For example, we don’t golf, and would not have wanted to pay for a community golf course.”
Back to Florida
Carol and Don are headed back to Florida. “We are just beach people,” Carol explained, “but it’s very hard to leave this special home.” She has a journal of comments from the many friends and family members who have visited during their time in Williamsburg. “It’s full of memories of when they came and what we all did together.”
To facilitate their move back to Florida, the Cotes asked John Womeldorf to represent them in selling their house. “Tim knows and likes John, who lives in the area,” Carol said. “So, we asked him to help.”
Why the stories? Because these aren’t just houses, they’re homes.
Mr. Williamsburg knows that when you’re looking for a new place, you’re searching for more than just four walls plus amenities, you’re looking for that welcoming refuge we call home. That’s why we go beyond the standard “4 bedrooms, 3 baths on large lot” statistics, to share how others have lived in this house, to reveal the home’s unique personality, to help you decide whether this is a place where your family could thrive.
Likewise, we realize that you’re seeking not simply a development within a particular zip code, but also an opportunity to become part of a community. That’s why we share our sellers’ experiences as members of that neighborhood.
We trust these stories will assist you in finding your way home.
Want to tell your home’s story? Contact John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf at (757) 254-8136 or John@MrWilliamsburg.com and we’ll get you started.
This post was authored by local REALTOR John Womeldorf, known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/Hampton Roads area and his expertise in the local real estate market.
I look forward to serving your real estate needs!