Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Home, spectacular home

We continue tour of spare-no-expenses property

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LAST week, readers were invited to walk with us through the fabulous $2-million home of Mark and Chantelle Rzepka.

But at more than 6,800 square feet, one visit couldn't take in all the Pritchard Farm home has to offer.

This week in Part II, we continue peeking into their rooms, from the His and Her offices to the home theatres (including one in their bedroom) to the six bathrooms.

You'll also find out how the co-owners of MediPlan Health Consulting Inc., Canada's largest Internet pharmacy, plan to relax in their extensively landscaped yard.

And rather than just oohing and ahhing, readers will again learn how some of the home's special touches can be applied to their own house, no matter how modest.


The Rzepkas have matching offices, one on the main floor and one upstairs.

Each are inside a turret with a wall of windows.

The walls and ceilings are covered with cherry wood, while the desktops are granite. The offices also have stainless steel Sub-Zero bar fridges to save a trip to the kitchen for a drink.

Heirloom Cabinetry partner Larry Koop says his company spent about 300 hours at the Rzepka's house doing the labour for the offices, and about 3,000 total hours for all the woodwork and cabinetry.

The upstairs office also has a door opening on to a slate-covered balcony that leads to the master bedroom's sitting room.

Master bedroom

There's no doubt the Rzepkas will get a good night's sleep in their bedroom.

From the custom-made, king-size cherry wood bed that's raised on a platform and surrounded by four pillars, the couple can enjoy the sights and sounds of a self-contained home-theatre system.

Across from the bed, a 42-inch plasma TV is set in the wall above a granite-faced gas fireplace.

"They've come way down in price, but they haven't lost their quality," Bolt Electronics president Dan Banks says, noting a 42-inch plasma TV starts at about $7,995.

The TVs are only 10 centimetres (four inches) thick, allowing them to be blended into a wall, as are two of the Rzepka's TVs.

"A plasma TV is like a piece of furniture," Banks says. "You don't see any wires. Everything is hidden."

The room is wired with a surround-sound system and a push of a button makes small motorized speakers drop out of the ceiling.

Banks suggests people have their houses pre-wired for electronics, which allows them to install a system in stages. The Rzepkas have more than $150,000 worth of electronic features in their home.

The master bedroom also includes one of the home's six bathrooms and a walk-through closet with granite tops on custom cabinetry that leads to the sitting area.

"We enjoy spending time in our bedroom, just relaxing and spending time together," Mark Rzepka says. "It's a very beautiful room."


With four full bathrooms and two powder rooms, there won't be any waiting in line at the Rzepka house.

Near the bed in the master bedroom is a two-person air tub in a raised platform with blue-eyed granite ledges. Blue dots in the granite appear, depending on which angle you look at it.

More people are using air tubs because they're more hygienic, says Gord Graveline, manager of Robinson Bathroom Centre.

A whirlpool tub recirculates the existing water and some is left in the lines and pumps, causing the potential for mildew and bacteria growth. Air tubs circulate warm air, which also goes through the lines and dries out any water left behind. Oils and other bath products can also be used in them, he says, adding the tubs start at about $1,675.

The Rzepka's BainUltra tub has coloured lights right in the tub, called chromatherapy, which incorporates the belief that different coloured lights influence your biorhythms.

Morrison Homes owner Greg Tohms, the builder of the Rzepka's house, notes the motor for an air tub can be relocated to another part of the house -- in this case a closet downstairs -- making it a more peaceful soak.

The backrests in the tub are heated, as is the polished porcelain tile on the floor around the tub.

Next to the tub is an enclosed steam shower with three body spray jets and a granite bench.

Oh yes, the shower has waterproof speakers.

A raised sink and vanity -- the toilet is across from them in its own little room -- makes shaving and putting on makeup more comfortable.

Taking an idea from a showhome in Florida, Tohms told the Rzepkas about a rather unique mirror they could install above the sink. Set behind the mirror is a small TV, which can be viewed from the vanity and toilet.

"It was just a little unique twist that we could try to incorporate and make our place special," Rzepka says, laughing at the idea of shaving and watching TV at the same time.

Specially ordered 24 per cent lead crystal glass and chrome cubes from Italy fit into the granite around the vanity and also hang above the tub.

The basement bathroom nearest the door to the backyard and pool includes a porcelain-tiled walk-in shower big enough for two or three people. A wooden magazine rack forms the side of the room's vanity, which includes a custom-made vessel sink that's a blue, glass bowl sitting on top of the counter.

But it's the sink in the powder room on the other side of the basement that makes one smile and say, "What will they think of next?"

The sink is also a vessel, but the water doesn't flow out of a spout. Instead, when a faucet handle is turned, a stream of water comes out of a small hole in the lower part of the medicine cabinet's mirror. The Kohler Purist mirrored cabinet unit costs about $2,000. Vessel sinks are popular, Graveline says, adding white china bowls run about $600, compared to glass bowls for about $1,500.

Body sprayers like those in the Rzepka's ensuite steam shower are also gaining popularity, costing about $900 for two body sprays, a hand shower, two controls for water volume and a thermostat.


This is where the fun begins.

A curved cherry wood staircase leads to the walk-out basement that includes an exercise room, dance floor, bar and home-theatre room. All the flooring is heated.

The custom-stained parquet dance floor is lit from above with pot lights and coloured light bulbs that are integrated with the sound system so they blink to the beat of the music or flicker set patterns by remote control.

"It's actually not very expensive at all," Banks says of the blinking illumination.

Controllers for a light/audio system start at about $200 and can be connected to lights such as pot lights, he says.

The Rzepka's sound system also includes a professional karaoke system with wireless microphones. The sound system also extends into the backyard.

"When we're with our friends, we like to sing and dance and have a good time," Rzepka says.

A 42-inch plasma TV also hangs from ceiling mounts and swivels so you can watch TV from anywhere in the room, including at the black granite-topped bar that has an ice-making machine, wine fridge, microwave, water purification system and dishwasher drawer.

Home theatre

Stepping through the door to the basement's home theatre, you get the feeling you're in a Hollywood mogul's house.

At the front of the room is a 2.7-metre (110-inch) Stewart movie screen with a Marantz overhead digital projector and a stage with curtains on either side.

Eight leather recliners, which come with drink holders and a place to set popcorn, sit on a raised floor.

"We like to have friends over to watch a movie," Rzepka says. "This will give us a special place to do that."

Building a home theatre is not as expensive as some people think, Banks says, adding his company designs for a person's home, lifestyle and budget.

He suggests beginning with a good quality rear-projection TV, which starts at about $2,900 for a 43-incher. These can be built into a room, saving space in a smaller home.


The cost of landscaping the Rzepka's double lot, including the pool, hot tub, fire pit and waterfall, was more than $150,000.

"Chantelle is an avid swimmer," Rzepka says, adding they considered an indoor pool, but like splashing around in the sun.

Off to the side of the pool is one of the latest models of hot tubs, which comes with a slate finish. Different levels of stairs and small wooden decks lead to the kitchen.

A corner of the yard features a waterfall, with fibre optic lighting behind it. Cobblestones are used for the patio around the pool and staff from the home's landscaper, Natural Impressions, selected more mature-sized trees to give the yard a head start on privacy.

"We wanted to have a house that we could share with our friends and family, have this as a gathering place for social events," Rzepka says.

"We're really happy with how it's turned out."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 26, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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