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A French Romance

Chateau des Reves (Castle of Dreams)

Chateau des Reves: click image above for exclusive video of interior space


Nestled behind pines and oak trees on a secluded road and sited on a gradually sloped crest with a spectacular view to a pristine Florida lake, lies a magnificent estate designed along Gothic sensibilities but containing all of the latest contemporary amenities.

                Chateau des Reves was planned to offer privacy, security, and a sublime spirit.  The client decided on a French castle theme for their ultimate Dream Home.  Not only was it to be an accommodating Period study, the house was to be designed employing ancient geometrical principals including the Fibonacci Series and the Golden Section (apparent in portions of the elevations and floor plans).  The architect used all manner of Euclidean geometry tying together the square, rectangle, octagon, hectagon, and circle into a pleasing 3 dimensional tapestry.  In an age of architectural nihilism, a return to tradition became the principle on which was based proportion, grace, and beauty.

                Conceived to contrast with its Mediterranean themed neighbors, this particular site of towering trees and lush green seems appropriate for the asymmetrically laid out elevation and plan, characteristic of rustic French dwellings.  The home has a simple open gate approach from the lightly traveled lake road and towers over 45’ (One of the tallest structures in residential Orange County – variances were granted over the 35’ typical maximum height).  A gray tile roof generally pitched with hip elements grows from the undulating façade marked by stucco and stone accents.  A small turret, high to the right, competes the illusion.

A large covered porch traced by three graceful arches beckons to the entry door – a beautiful wood and wrought iron design framed by carved stone.  Inside, stone and plaster details abound; with hand carved stained wood and synthetic materials cleverly woven together.  The classical theme permeates the structure.  Arches and columns delineate passageways and frame views.  Beautiful wood floors contrast with marble and stone.  Breathtaking crown moldings and vaulted ceilings arrest the eye.  It is a study of classical proportion in plan and elevation.

The highly decorative and stone faced double height sky-lit Foyer with grand stairway impresses the visitor, while looking straight ahead through a hand carved Palladian Arch, the lake view is apparent through the breathtaking 29 foot high south exposure Living Room with barrel coffered ceiling.  The pride of the Living or Ball Room is the nearly 24’ high stone detailed baroque fireplace.  On the opposite wall is a Music Niche trimmed in complementary stone.  Under the Grand Stair is a wrought iron gate with access from both the Foyer and Dining into a Wine Cellar.  A glimpse down to the Elliptical Dining Room is possible as one ascends the dramatic L shaped Grand Stair to secondary bedrooms above.  The Dining Room has delicate moldings set off slightly from the warm toned plaster finished curved walls.  It is connected to the Kitchen via Butler Pantry.

                Formal Living, Study, and Family rooms; Kitchen, Dining, Billiard, Play, Exercise and Master Suite are located on the first level.  Hammerhead beams evoke the Gothic cathedral ceiling of the double height Children’s Play Room.  A long transverse corridor is the central circulation spine.  An easy and interesting flow of space permeates through interior balconies and walkways.  Despite the formal stance, the house feels like home.  Strategically spaced windows and doors can be opened during the cooler months to allow free-flowing breezes to waft through the house from the lake.  The sun permeates the water view rear decks and pool on the south year round. 

                The house took approximately 14 months to plan and 21/2 years to build.  Such an undertaking cannot be possible without close cooperation among the Owner, Architect and Builder.  The excellent workmanship throughout is a credit to the trim crews assigned this project and finish trades.  Built of concrete on the first floor and wood framing on the second with open web trusses, the house is 145’wide by 118’ deep.


                Chateau des Reves is one of acclaimed Architect John C. Henry’s unknown treasures imaginatively conceived upon Gothic precedent and Old World charm.  Greco-Roman detail is cleverly mixed with French Renaissance proportion.  Mr. Henry was commissioned to detail completely the exterior treatments and 4 interior spaces: the Foyer, Dining Room, Living Room, and Study.  An interior designer (of the client’s choosing) completed the remainder of the interiors.

[HIGHLIGHTS: 16 ft. first floor and 14 ft. second allow period style proportion/details throughout, hand-carved stonework and intricate woodwork.  Master Suite w/ Sitting and octagonal His/ Her Bath and Closets, Exercise room on first floor with secret spiral stair to Owner’s Retreat overlooking lake at second floor; 2-story paneled Study, barrel vault and coffered Living Room, Elliptical Dining, Skylit Foyer w/ grand Stair and Wine cellar below, large Family Room adjacent to Kitchen.  Children’s Play room with separate Billiard room by Kitchen and Family. Second floor Media room, Children's study, 4 Bedrooms en suite.  Secret attic.  Upper rear porch facing lake and pool at rear.  Guest House by separate entry.  Wood shop and 3 car garage connected by a porte cochere.  Large pool and deck with trellis.  Over 18,000 SF under roof.]




John Henry

John Henry Design International, Inc.

7491 Conroy Windermere Rd.

Orlando Florida 32835

Contact Phone No.: 407/ 421-6647



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