The house an organ built


Not many people can say they built a home around a pipe organ, but that’s exactly what Wisconsin couple Nancy and Bill Siebecker did when they moved from Wausau to The Lake Club in Lakewood Ranch.

Part of the big move to their favorite vacation spot of Sarasota included finding a proper place for Nancy’s 16-rank, 876-pipe organ that has been a part of her professional life since 1984. The couple had the mechanical-action organ built in Germany and voiced by Robert Sipi.

Lakewood Ranch; Home of Bill and Nancy SiebeckerNancy has structured a career around organ music as a church music director, college music teacher, coach to private students and a popular performer. She holds two advanced degrees in music.

When Nancy and husband Bill (he’s the CEO of Wilson-Hurd, a manufacturing company based in Wausau) decided to make vacation fun an ongoing part of their lives in Florida, they started a serious house hunt with the organ in mind because they couldn’t leave home without it.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Nancy, “because this pipe organ reaches up 22 feet, so we needed high ceilings. Also, I needed a room with lots of volume and I knew I would be working with a sound engineer to make the room live for concerts and I would need his advice on insulating other rooms in the house.

«  Gallery of images from 'The House an Organ Built'  »

“Bill wanted to be able to go into his man cave/home office and not hear me practice. Plus, I wanted a beautiful home, not a stark concert hall, even though I intend to do a lot of musical entertaining in our new house.”

The Sarasota-Manatee chapter of the American Guild of Organists is invited next week for a party. Many talented hands will make music on the Siebecker organ.

The couple settled on The Lake Club as their ideal neighborhood and selected a design of a London Bay Homes model of about 4,000 square feet. They modified the floor plan, enlarging the living room (organ room) by making it eight feet longer and four feet wider. They raised the ceiling to 26 feet.

The white oak organ with its silver-toned pipes sits at one end of the living room. They also designed the home so that Nancy would have an office near the organ room that includes her Steinway piano and Bill would have his private office on the second floor of the home.

Part of the design team from the beginning were Bonnie Lancaster and Keffie Lancaster, who had worked with the Siebeckers some years ago on a vacation condominium the couple enjoyed at Grand Bay on Longboat Key.

“Our challenge was to make the house residential, comfortable and elegant," said Bonnie Lancaster. “Bill loves gadgets and technology so he wanted everything up to the minute in that department and the sound engineer made it clear that we should avoid heavy drapes, thick area carpets and too much upholstered furniture. The living room, dining area and kitchen are one flowing space and so we treated it as a single unit.

“Additionally, there are French doors that open onto a large outdoor kitchen, pool and patio area that the Siebeckers use for entertaining, so everything out there had to coordinate with what’s in the public part of the home since it all functions together.”

One more challenge was that the homeowners were bringing antiques and pieces of family heirloom furniture with them, as well as favorite pieces such as the etched glass dining table and a foyer light fixture that belonged to Bill’s mother.

“It was like putting together a big puzzle in a lot of ways,” said Keffie Lancaster. “But we worked it out and I think the final result is that everything looks exactly like it belongs here.”

The Lancaster team used the floor of unpolished Turkish travertine to visually unite the spaces. Because the organ pipes are silver-toned, the designers brought that metallic finish forward as a strong accent in the surface design on a large custom mirror and curio cabinet. Three swirling pendants in the living room reference the organ pipes too; they are like music in motion.

“Silver became a unifying element in the public part of the house along with a snappy Benjamin Moore paint color called Simply White in the living room and dining area,” said Bonnie Lancaster.

“Even the drapery rods are that color. White sofas blend into the space but we introduced a jolt of bright raspberry for chairs on either side of the organ.”

The kitchen is sleek and sophisticated with traditional styling expressed in the glazed cabinets and granite counters. The diamond laser-cut backsplash is the art focal point of the room, which features double gas ovens and gas range, warming drawers, a wine cooler and two pantries, one just for Nancy’s heirloom china and silver.

Bill Siebecker’s extensive travels in the Far East have given him an appreciation for serene and spa-like bedrooms and bathrooms that he discovered in boutique hotels in places such as Thailand. He tasked the designers to do something similar for himself and Nancy.

In the master bedroom, an 18-foot-long custom padded and upholstered headboard connects two custom-made queen beds. Across from the beds on a wall draped in silk, a wall-mounted flat-screen television is concealed. By remote control, the drapes part theater-style to reveal the TV. The Asian-influenced fabric on the headboard is repeated in the master bath, a room that is all about peaceful luxury combined with technological advances.

Bill’s man cave/home office occupies the second floor and is a small apartment with a sitting room, separate office area, storage closet, bathroom, library, kitchenette and tree-top balcony.

Bill commutes to Wausau regularly for business but can conduct the regular 10 a.m. staff meeting in Wausau right from his office in The Lake Club.

“With technology today, I can pretty much stay on top of things from Florida,” he said. “But, I have to be careful. The gorgeous birds that fly by my windows every day, the swimming pool I can see from here and the temptation to turn on my new 65-inch television could definitely be distractions. Some days it really feels like I’m on vacation.”

Marsha Fottler

Marsha Fottler has been a newspaper and magazine lifestyle, food and design writer since 1968 first in Boston and in Florida since 1970. She contributes to regional and national publications and she is co-publisher and editor of a monthly online magazine that celebrates the pleasures of the table called Flavors & More. (941) 371-8593.
Last modified: September 13, 2013
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