Casual Elegance

After recently building his personal residence, custom builder Chris Morgan has a fresh appreciation for those on the other end of the home-building process-his clients.

November 01, 1999

After recently building his personal residence, custom builder Chris Morgan has a fresh appreciation for those on the other end of the home-building process-his clients.


This stunning Country French-style home, designed for the Street of Dreams of Greater Orlando, is also the personal residence of its builder, Chris Morgan. Precast stone trim gives the home’s stucco exterior added depth. "It has the look of a castle," says Morgan.
The home’s stunning two-story foyer is filled with authentic European details including display niches, intricate moldings and three wrought-iron railed balconies, one of which actually opens into second-floor living space. Archways which flank the mahogany front doors, lead to formal living space. Faux finishes on the walls and ceilings throughout the home give it an aged patina.

Morgan’s new home, the first he’s built for himself, is a 8895-square-foot country French-style two story that was one of ten upscale homes featured in the Greater Orlando Street of Dreams this fall.

"Building my own home left me with a totally new perspective on what goes into the process from the buyer’s end," says Morgan, of Goehring & Morgan Construction, Altamonte Springs, Fla. "I’m in a better position to understand the stresses that are involved for them. It’s a really big task to do it right."

While on a trip abroad several years ago, Morgan and his wife, fell in love with the look of the homes in the rolling hills of the French countryside. This became the foundation for the design of what would become their dream home.

Designing this classical European home presented a challenge to architect Jim Zirkle, of Home Design Services. Not only was it to be featured as a show home but it was also to become the personal residence of the builder. "I had to balance these two elements-personal tastes and show home qualities, and create a plan that functioned well," he says.

Yet the task was not as daunting as it may seem, according to Zirkle. "It actually worked out well to have the builder also be the homeowner," he says. "Not only did the Morgans have a clear idea of what they wanted to see in the home, but they also had a sense of what would make good ‘show’ features."

"The floor plan really fits our lifestyle," says Morgan, "We wanted a casual, comfortable family-oriented design combined with what I call ‘old world’ style."


The combined space of the kitchen, breakfast nook and sitting area creates a wonderful informal zone for relaxation and conversation. A second staircase here, leads to the children’s bedrooms and game room on the upper floor.

From the elevated foyer, the view stretches nearly 70-feet out the back of the home, making the most of its spectacular lakeside site.

"In our market, living rooms are almost like an appendix, people still want them, but they don’t really use them," says Morgan. In his home, he downsized this formal space, while still giving it a high-visibility location.

The home’s interior is punctuated by a variety of level changes that dramatize key living areas such as the family room, library and master suite.

An elegant switchback staircase provides an overlook into the living space, while a second, informal staircase off the kitchen provides another access point to the upper floor bedrooms. A game room on this level provides a retreat for the Morgan’s children and their friends. "This really eliminates noise and clutter from the formal areas downstairs," he says.


The kitchen’s custom cabinetry, designed to resemble movable pieces of furniture, features intricate moldings and details all artificially aged using a washed finish.
Dark granite countertops provide dramatic contrast to the white center island with its functional butcher-block top.
French doors in the formal living room frame the spectacular view the home’s rear patio/pool area and lake beyond.

Morgan’s home occupies a 2/3-acre lakeside site in newly developed Keene’s Point in Windermere, Fla. Completed in October 1999, the home has an estimated market value of $1.2 million.

Builder: Goehring & Morgan Construction, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Architect: James Zirkle, Home Design Services, Orlando, Fla.

Interior Design: Linda Curtis, Brooks Interiors, Maitland, Fla.; Donnie Saxon, Saxon-Clarke, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Comments on: "Casual Elegance"

November 2015

This Month in Custom Builder


ASKO Appliances has a new line of 12 built-in dishwashers with several new features.


Two designers and home builder partners share their executions for pantries and butler kitchens.

Overlay Init