Gateway to Paradise

Step inside a stunning equestrian manor in Upstate South Carolina

By Luke Connell
Photographs by Rebecca Lehde

Construction of Bob and Lisa Castellani’s estate started with a refrain.

“Bob always says, ‘What would a man dare to dream if he knew his dreams would come true?” Lisa Castellani said, the couple’s dog Ruger snuggling near her on the couch. “So that’s where we started.”

Sitting on 54 acres off Roper Mountain Road near Simpsonville, the home and adjacent equestrian facilities marry salvaged materials from across the country with antiques from around the world to evoke Old World elegance, with a hint of classic American farm life.

The 54-acre estate includes the home, nearby equestrian facilities and a small church.

Inspired by the English manors of Cotswald, the 14,000-square-foot home prominently features Longleaf pine beams salvaged from a Clifton Mill – wood that dates to George Washington’s presidency. Reclaimed white oak floors run throughout the main floor and basement.

“I’ve always been drawn to the true age of Europe,” Lisa Castellani said. “So I enjoy having things and being surrounded by things that have stories to tell and then having a home with the bones to support them.”

“When you drive onto this property, it’s as if you stepped back in time in a way.”

A roaring fireplace is perfectly framed by two windows inside this stately master bathroom.

A pair of matching mirrors – crafted from 16th Century French headboards – are mounted above the enormous cast-limestone fireplaces that flank either side of the home’s great room – their chimneys reaching into the barrel-vaulted ceiling punctuated by curved wooden beams. Plaster covers the walls throughout most of the main level, while other areas feature shiplap, a type of wooden boards commonly featured in farmhouses.

But don’t let the antiques fool you into thinking this house is more museum than home. Bob, founder of North American Rescue in Greer, and Lisa, a pediatrician, have two children, and the feel of the home reflects the family’s welcoming, inviting personalities.

“I’ve never been a person who says to my kids, ‘Stay out of this room,” Lisa Castellani said, adding that the couple feels truly blessed and wants to share their home by holding events and having guests.

“We wanted it to be inviting and livable.”

She also wanted the home to be peaceful, incorporating numerous arched doorways, openings and groin vaults – areas where two barrel vaults meet – giving portions of the home an expansive, cathedral feel.

“Arches are calming,” Lisa Castellani said. “It’s a softer line. Once you get into an arch, it’s that lack of a beginning and end.”

As for furnishing the home, “Most of this, it’s the bones of the house that speak so loudly and dictate what you do.”

The home’s basement evokes the feeling of an Old World European pub, featuring reclaimed wooden beams, leather furniture and wine barrels.

The family’s passion for the equestrian life is evident in design touches throughout the home, from a patina-kissed copper sculpture of a horse in a hallway to the painting labeled Black Horse behind the bar in the basement. That lowest level also features a state-of-the-art home theater room, framed by hand-hewn beams reclaimed from barns across the country, as well as a temperature controlled walk-in wine room that stores individual bottles of wine in hexagonal terra cotta sleeves. In addition to staircases, an elevator – with its lighted shaft visible from the basement – connects all three floors – which hold six bedrooms, seven full baths and four half baths.

Outside cobblestone paths connect the stables and home – blue stones harvested from the streets of Pittsburgh and given new purpose in the Upstate. Inspired by the tithe barns of medieval Europe – so called because farmers gave a percentage of their crop yields to the church – the heart of the equestrian facilities is home to 12 stalls. As in the home, this building features the longleaf pine beams salvaged from Clifton, while also incorporating reclaimed hemlock. Inch-and-a-half thick, interlocking rubber pavers cover the stable area, which is capped by a cupola – a small dome.

The Castellanis’ love for horses is evident in the estate’s equestrian facilities. The barn – inspired by the tithe barns of medieval Europe – includes 12 stalls and three arenas, offering ample space for warming up the horses, dressage and jumping.

Stepping out of the back of the barn, large doors frame a stunning vista of three enormous arenas – one for warming up, one for dressage and another for jumping.

“The feel of this house is like that English country estate,” Lisa Castellani said. “And if you were lucky enough to live out in the countryside, you had horses.”

A few hundred yards from the barn, in a field of fescue on the Castellani property, a Roycroft Copper Red chapel sits as another testimony to couple’s affinity for reclaimed beauty.

The inside of the chapel – which pairs original rafters with reclaimed materials – offers the family and their guests a quiet place to reflect.

Built by Lake Mission Church in the late 60s, the tiny structure had fallen into disrepair. When Bob and Lisa Castellani purchased a piece of property near their Roper Mountain Road home, a deal was struck, and the chapel was relocated. Workers blended high-end materials leftover from the nearby home’s construction – longleaf pine beams, flagstone pavers and shiplap – with features original to the house of worship, such as original fireplace and handmade rafters.

Now, the chapel is a place for quiet reflection.

Reflection and peace are common themes throughout these grounds.

Asked where the family spends most of their time, Lisa Castellani, sitting on that couch in the den, responded, “This is our main space right here.”

“I love being able to look out these windows and see the horses in the pasture,” she said, gazing outside. “It just gives me peace.”

“This is better than anything I could have possibly imagined.”  E

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