When Pam Orlando Zanni moved in 2015 to Louisville, she had no intention of staying in Kentucky.
“I had moved all over the country for work when I came to Louisville,” she said. “I didn’t anticipate staying here forever, but meeting (Mark Zanni) kind of changed everything.”
They met in January 2017, just as she was prepping for a new home build.
“I was getting ready to build another house (on my own) before I met him,” she said. “My parents had just moved from Chicago to Kentucky and my dad said, ‘You don’t want to build that house — this guy is sticking around.”
Her dad was right — the couple got engaged that April and were married by July.
“We each had a home to sell (to) combine our lives together,” Orlando Zanni said. “He had a place in St. Regis Park, and I had a place in Norton Commons.”
They discovered two small lots in Sanctuary Bluffs and began life together by building their brand-new home.
“It was almost a year-long process to build,” Orlando Zanni said, “but I’d built seven (other) houses in my life, so I had some very strong ideas about what I wanted. I basically designed the whole house and drew sketches and had a draftsman put the plans together.”
Zanni was no stranger to the process, either — he also had experience in building homes from the ground up, so it was an exciting venture for the couple to embark upon together.
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“We used the same builder that I had used in Norton Commons,” Orlando Zanni said. “Colin Osborne (from) Traditional Homes.”
Since they both expect it to be their forever home, they took into account all the uses it may have in the future, including serving as a dwelling for their aging parents.
“When we built this,” she said, “we knew we wanted a first-floor master for ourselves, and then (an extra) room, which I (currently) use as an office. It’s something that can be converted into another first-floor bed and bath — just in case. You never know what’s gonna happen.”
A well-equipped kitchen setup was another feature Orlando Zanni was determined to include in their new house.
“I’m a Thanksgiving person,” she said. “We have 25 to 30 people (over) for Thanksgiving and in my house in Norton Commons, it was an open floor plan like this; so when you’d get to dessert time, all the dishes are stacked up (in full view) — which I hated — so this time we built what I call a ‘back kitchen.’ There’s a sink and a dishwasher, ovens, a column freezer, and all my serving dishes, which makes it really nice for entertaining. You can stash the dirty dishes away while you serve dessert.”
The second kitchen can be closed off to not only prevent the dirty dishes from being seen but to keep the couple’s pooches — Lhasa poo Ainslie and Bolognese Fredo — in their own area.
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“We’ve got a little doggy door,” Orlando Zanni said, explaining that the electronic exit and entrance leads to a picket-fenced area in the yard, providing the pups with safe spaces to traverse as they please.
Another unique aspect of the home is an upstairs area that the couple literally turned into a creative space.
“When you look at a (house) plan,” Orlando Zanni remarked, “you see all that dead space above a garage. We’re both artists, so we call it the ‘design loft.’”
Filled with paint, easels, and other art supplies, the space also boasts a full bathroom, large closet, and Juliet balcony that overlooks the woods.
“Both of us had always wanted to have a dedicated space like this,” she continued. “I’d never had a house that had enough space to just leave stuff out all the time — and Mark was the same.”
They now have their ideal home, custom created for their life together — and they don’t anticipate ever needing to build another house again.
“We took all the things that we learned from our previous lives (and) brought them together,” Orlando Zanni gushed. “We just designed it to live our best lives.”
Know a house that would make a great Home of the Week? Email writer Lennie Omalza at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lifestyle Editor Kathryn Gregory at email@example.com.
nuts & bolts
Owners: Pam Orlando Zanni and Mark Zanni. Orlando Zanni is the creative studio operations director at Cella, and Zanni is the director of operations at Fresenius Kidney Care. Also in the home is Ainslie, the couple’s 15-year-old Lhasa poo, and Fredo, their 8-year-old Bolognese.
Home: This is a 4-bed, 6-bath, 6,000-square-foot, South Carolina Lowcountry style home that was built in 2018 in the Sanctuary Bluffs development.
Distinctive elements: Extensive porch that leads to a double-door entry; soaring vaulted ceiling with architectural trusses and French doors that lead to covered back porch in main bedroom; freestanding tub and spacious walk-in shower in main bath; dressing room with makeup vanity, washer, and dryer; great room with 12-foot coffered ceiling; three sets of French doors that lead to the back porch and yard; custom designed and crafted built ins surrounding an oversized fireplace; open floor plan that incorporates kitchen, dining, and great room; primary kitchen with a 10-foot-long island, Sub-Zero wine Fridge, clear ice maker, Sub-Zero refrigerator column, eight-burner Wolf range, Bosch dishwasher, farmhouse sink, quartz countertops, and ceramic backsplash; back kitchen with additional farmhouse sink, Bosch dishwasher, Sub-Zero column freezer, Wolf microwave, electric wall oven, built-in open shelving and ladder to access high shelves, electronic doggie door with access to picket-fenced dog area; additional full bath and bedroom on main floor, which is currently used as a home office; front staircase that leads to two bedrooms with en suites, an open sitting area, and a second laundry area for guests; rear staircase that leads to design loft, which includes a fully tiled open art space for painting, a balcony that overlooks the woods, a full bath, and large closet; casual entertainment area in basement includes pool table, pinball machine, and large TV over a 100-inch electric fireplace; dark-stained wood ceiling treatment above TV area; exercise room, office, and full bath in basement; exterior access staircase that leads from garage to basement storage area; artwork by John Tuska, Mary Michael Shelley, Mark Bettis, S. Josephine Weaver, David Walker, Billy Hertz, Molly Passafiume, Kathleen Lolly, Shayne Hull, Wayne Ferguson, Marvin Finn, Bob Hoke, T Marie Nolan, Salvador Dali, and Peter Max; located on a half-acre lot.
Applause! Applause! Colin Osborn of Traditional Homes for building their dream home; Steve Hartung of Java Construction for finishing the basement; Home Automation for the sound and security systems; John Poynter of Century; Frankie Epperson of Draped in Style for window treatments; Pam Orlando Zanni for the home’s design.
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