Written by Joe O’Donnell
Photography by Brendon Pinola
Even before the first bit of ground was broken, the first nail hammered in place, Dona Bullock saw her new home in Mt Laurel as a gathering place, a hub of friendship and family, of joy and laughter and happiness.
Bullock, a hair stylist and owner of Joelle Salon on Old Rocky Ridge Road, stayed true to that vision from the moment she picked out a lot in the Mt. Laurel community. “I looked at one lot and it felt like it was God-chosen for the home I had in mind,” Bullock says. “The lot had a grand view of the mountain. I just saw the vision.”
Charged with bringing that vision to life were builder John Freeman and architect Chuck Frusterio. “Mr. Freeman went to school with my mom,” Bullock says.
Bullock sees echoes of her life’s story throughout the home, something she calls “modern, classic charm.” “The front of the home feels like a European Tudor cottage,” she says. “The side of my home is influenced by my childhood years living in a white two-story home with porches, patio, boulder rocks, and an English flower garden. The shape of the house reminds me of the building I work in, which is an H shape.”
The home took a year to build, which Bullock calls the best year of her life. “On the day they laid the foundation with concrete trucks lined up, I asked them where was my front door going to be,” she says. “There along with my family and dogs beside me, we placed a Bible open to Deuteronomy 6:1-10 and dedicated my home. My first day in my new home was Christmas Day.”
Bullock describes the décor as iron meets crystal with chandeliers as a focal point in each room. Vaulted beams soar in the great room, and the fireplace encompasses 30 feet of white Austin stone. The floors are white oak with deluded white country stain, which leaves various hues within the grain. The kitchen and butler’s pantry are painted white with bursts of gray and white marble throughout. Cabinets are custom made by Wenzel with mixed crystal knobs and iron drawer handles. Bullock says she loves to cook and to share the kitchen with friends and family.
The house has four bedrooms with two master suites with porches off of each. Upstairs are a study, an entertainment room with a coffee bar and fridge, and two bedrooms for Bullock’s grandchildren. The original plan was for Bullock’s mother to join her in the home, but she suffers from dementia and in the end was more comfortable in her own original home.
Flowerbeds encircle the house so that Bullock can pick fresh flowers for her home, and she has started an organic garden out back.
Frusterio, founder of Frusterio Design, says the home site was unique. “The right side overlooked a natural preserve,” he says. “We designed the home to take advantage of the views and natural privacy. Every major room on the main floor overlooks this view, and the upstairs bedroom also has a covered deck that welcomes out-of-town guests.”
Frusterio says he enjoys designing homes in Mt Laurel because of the people involved. “It makes for a very enjoyable experience to have the freedom to design communities that fit the Mt Laurel development guidelines. No two homes are alike, and we are consistently improving and creating new home design ideas that put homes in Mt Laurel at the cutting edge of the new home market without compromising the neighborhood feel that makes Mt Laurel so attractive to home buyers.”
Frusterio’s philosophy in developing home designs for clients is to listen to their every request, desire, and even what they would dream to have, “so we can make it a reality,” he says.
“Mt Laurel is the land of milk and honey for me: great neighbors, a pool, tennis court, dog parks, lakes, woods for hiking, sidewalks, charm and more charm,” Bullock says.
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