Traditional is not in the vocabulary of husband and wife Ed Evans and Sandy Giallanza. When Evans, a partner at software developer Pointe Blank Solutions in Middleburg Heights, and Giallanza, general sales manager for 95.5 FM The Fish, went looking for a new home, the duo wanted anything but a cookie-cutter floor plan. What they found in a country-style enclave in Solon perfectly fit their vision. And they are applying that same out-of-the-normal philosophy to their bold, but warm decor.
Space age: Set back from their private drive, the couple’s home has a ranch-meets-cottage feel from the outside. The two-story house is settled on 2.8 acres with an oversized front yard and back yard. Evans liked the home because of the amount of land and lack of a basement. The ranch sits on a concrete slab, which can make the hardwood floors chilly on winter nights, but was worth the price, according to Evans, to not have an old, musty lower level.
A splash of color: When Evans and Giallanza moved in nearly two years ago, the home, while beautiful, was devoid of color.
“Everything was white on white, so it was really sterile,” Giallanza remembers. Evans chimes in, recalling the home’s “hospital feel” when they first started decorating. But standing in their red-accented TV room immediately off the foyer, it’s easy to see the colorful impact the couple has had on their dwelling.
The room carries a deep red motif and dark wood tones that draw in visitors. A square-patterned area rug ties the room together. Indonesian food tables on either end of the leather couch exemplify their inspired taste — and the dip in the center of the tables make it easy to keep track of that pesky remote control.
The TV room is tied together by a checkered area rug.
Photo by Darnell Wilburn
The kitchen curves from the TV room into an eating area before opening into the dining room. Every piece in the home has a story and Giallanza is always eager to tell it. This time, she pauses at two vertical pictures that hang next to the kitchen table. She says there is nothing special about from where they came, or who made them, but one, which reads “brioche” reminds the couple, especially Giallanza, of their times in Italy. As a young girl, Giallanza remembers a small bakery where she and her family would sit and enjoy dipping bread. That warm memory is what encouraged her to buy the wall decor.
“We have to connect with everything,” she says. “Your home is like an extension of you. We want a home where you feel warm and welcome.”
Be their guest: Nothing in the home could be more welcoming than the guest bedroom — a warm, wine color, finished with cork floors that deceivingly carry a look of wood grain. Giallanza wanted to use cork because it’s more environmentally friendly. The color scheme for the entire room came from a pillow that sits on the armchair in the far corner. Admittedly “obsessed with pillows,” to hear Giallanza say certain wall colors throughout the ranch were chosen because of a pillow is not uncommon.
Let the sun shine: The dining room opens into a yellow sunroom at which both Evans and Giallanza can’t help but smile when they descend the two tiny steps leading into the space. Large windows cover all three walls and showcase their huge back yard and patio. A hammock strapped between two trees draws the eye in and immediately relaxes guests.
“We wanted a room where we could come in and hang out,” Evans says. “Color changes the whole atmosphere.”
The room, originally navy blue, is the perfect example of their bold taste — a space the couple wouldn’t change. It’s warm and cozy with a stone coffee table and matching end tables, accented by large greenery in the corners and a bending floor lamp. An oriental area rug ties it all together.
An avant-garde marriage: True to their decor taste, Evans and Giallanza averted the typical chicken dinner matrimony and opted for a destination wedding in Florence, Italy. Surrounded by 22 friends and family members (some of Giallanza’s family still lives in Italy), they were married eight years ago in an old Renaissance palace. Ornate tapestries adorned the walls and the couple were placed in large, red high-back chairs for the ceremony, where Giallanza wore her mother’s wedding dress.
“It was really amazing,” Evans recalls. Proudly hanging in their front hall is their marriage license, written in Italian and framed.
Matrimonial motivation: Their inspiration to tie the knot abroad came from two significant events.
The first being Evans and Giallanza already knew what their wedding parties in a traditional ceremony would look like from when Evans’ sister and Giallanza’s brother were married years earlier. A pair for 19 years, the Solon couple introduced their siblings years after Evans and Giallanza had met and dated at Bowling Green State University. They were in-laws before they were newlyweds.
The other event came from Giallanza’s time studying in Florence, Italy — she always knew she wanted to be married there.
Planning ahead: While beautiful, Evans and Giallanza insist they have a lot of decorating left to do before every room, including their TV room, mirrors their taste. For example, their upstairs master bedroom and Giallanza’s yoga room still display the original white walls. While boring, the couple admit it has given them a clean palette from which to start.
Downstairs, wallpaper covered, and in some places still does, most of the walls of their home. Using the texture to their advantage, the duo has chosen a pecan-colored paint to coat the wallpaper in the TV room and along the hallways of the downstairs to create a consistent look. This neutral shade will make the bold colors adorning the walls of the adjacent rooms really pop, Giallanza says with a smile.
“We’re going from one extreme to the other,” she says, asking us to return in a year or two and see the way the home has changed to reflect their personality.