Renaissance On The Hill



Before contractors stripped Stan and Penny Boney’s Mount Helix house down to the studs, they carefully removed carved-wood panels and reliefs from 14th century Florence, Italy. The remodel by QualCraft Construction Inc. has elevated the property to a Tuscan villa-style home worthy of the artifacts that have been replaced in the 7,450-square-foot residence. 

In each of the couple’s offices, vertical columns with carved figures accent surrounding cabinetry. And lining one wall near the front entry, the Italian labor guild panels sit above new, red oak paneling. 

“We set up a mill shop on site to match the wood,” says Michael Jacobs-Bonnett, president of QualCraft. 

When the Boneys bought the 1973-built house in 2005, its architectural and landscaping “features” included cinderblock, a shiny blue tile roof (“like they have on Dairy Queens,” Penny says) and broken concrete. After a year of project planning, the roof came off and was replaced with traditional clay tiles. 

To create the appropriate finish for the grand scale of the exterior and to complement the natural granite outcroppings on the property, Michael used natural rocks around the front door and for short walls and outdoor stairs; thin-cut, fossilized, natural stone blocks for walls; and precast concrete balustrades and columns with ornate caps harkening to the Italian Renaissance. Travertine tile flows from indoor to outdoor terraces, while flagstone covers areas around the pool and gardens.

“The biggest challenge was accessing the different levels outside,” Michael says. “Every level accesses three to four dif-ferent stairs, so you can always get where you want to go.”

Even the pool takes its place on more than one terrace. At one end, swimmers can step into the water. At the other end is a bar level with the water’s edge. And a gate in the railing on a terrace above can be opened for those who want to jump into the pool.

A 14-foot, custom Cantera door made of patinaed steel, glass and wrought iron is sur-rounded by a natural stone arch. When a contractor asked Penny what type of stucco finish she wanted on walls between the stonework, she noted his Italian accent. 

“I asked, ‘Where are you from?’ and he said Palermo. I told him, ‘I want it to look like Palermo.’” He achieved the look by giving the walls depth through mottling two colors.

Inside, the floor plan was rearranged and 650 square feet added. What used to be the kitchen became a large master-suite closet. The new kitchen, created in part from new square footage, is rendered rich with alder cabinets, Enkeboll molding, wallpaper with an Old World pattern and an island with a curved and scalloped granite top. 

A staircase that was straight and led to a storage room is now curved and leads to a game room that’s “perfect for Chargers games when friends come over,” Stan says. The room includes a stone bar with a granite top and a step-up wine cellar on one end. 

Beyond the game room is one of the home’s most dazzling attributes: a two-level theater with a movie screen on top and a golf-simulator screen below that can be hidden behind large doors. Even Michael, who designed the theater, expresses awe.

“You can watch a movie or football game upstairs and play golf downstairs,” he says. “Who else gets to do that in their house?”

Decorative precast concrete columns and trim on the suede-covered walls add a Renaissance reference to this room of leather chairs with cup holders and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. A Victorian-style spiral staircase (something Penny had seen in a magazine) linking the two theater levels works in the scheme of things, especially in conjunction with the black iron railing in the balcony. You also can ride an elevator between the two levels.

While many homeowners have input into how their houses are built or remodeled, Penny participated by doing more than making selections and watching the work being done. She climbed up onto scaffolding to fill spaces between plaster moldings installed by contractors and carved the plaster with a Dremel rotary tool. Her labors included stripping, sanding, staining and sewing. Among her handiwork are fabric panels in the master bedroom that match the bedspread, pillows and drapes. 

“The fabric was in The Princess Diaries,” she notes. “I bought bolts and bolts of this stuff for nothing.”

When she says “for nothing,” Penny refers to the friendship she struck up with a seller on eBay that picks up bolt ends from millers. She got the fabric at such a bargain price that she lined silk with silk in floor-to-ceiling draperies. Fortunately, there is plenty of room for storing and stitching fabric, thanks to the conversion of a potting/storage shed into a sewing “room.”

Many of the home’s fur-nishings came from Phoenix: corporate headquarters for the Boney family-founded Sprouts Farmers Market chain. As Penny explains it, she and Stan had been living in Alpine for 10 years when they “tried to move” to Phoenix. 

“We were in Phoenix for nine months,” she says. “That’s all we could take of the desert.” However, it was in Arizona’s capital that Penny picked up furniture.

“I knew no one [there], so I shopped,” she says. “That’s all there was to do, and they had great furniture stores.” She became such a regular at one store that they would call her when a truck was coming in, tell her what was on it and then let her go to the loading dock with stickers so she could tag anything she wanted.

Other furnishings, such as a clock from Horchow, have been purchased by the couple over the years.

“Every anniversary, instead of buying gifts or going out, we buy something for the house,” Penny says. 

Perhaps their next anniver-sary will call for a telescope. The multilevel terraces overlook everything from the sewing room and gardens to Grossmont Mountain and beyond in a 270-degree sweep.

“On a clear day, we can see San Clemente and Coronado — and on a really clear day, Catalina,” Stan says.

“We get a big slice of the pie,” Penny adds.

Besides the panoramic view, there’s something their home offers that most Tuscan villas don’t: 17 televisions.


Homes: By Janice Kleinschmidt Photography by Martin Mann

***Additional photos coming soon!

Categories: Home Design