Blog Cabin 2010: Winner Takes Home the Prize
Meet the winner of Blog Cabin 2010! Tony Marino hails from Matthews, a suburb of Charlotte, N.C. Tony grew up in Chicago ("I am a city kid — I grew up one mile away from Wrigley Field," he says), attended public school and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He met and married his wife, Nadine, in Chicago and the couple moved with his job to Texas and later to North Carolina, where the coupled settled. The Marinos have been married for 24 years and have two college-aged sons, Drew and Anthony.
Jackson Riley Parker
To construct the gravel drive, the Desperate Landscapes crew first outlined the shape of the drive with spray paint. Existing turf was removed with a sod cutter and the driveaway bed, several inches deep, was established with an excavator. Lastly, the bed was filled with dust-free crushed gravel and compacted with a vibrating roller.
What was your strategy when entering the Blog Cabin 2010 Sweepstakes?
"I’d like to say there was a strategy, but there was no strategy. I did enter almost every day, usually in the evenings, after I got home from work. It was pretty easy to remember to enter because I receive both DIY and HGTV through my cable service provider so it was easy to remember to watch the shows at night."
Did you enter the sweepstakes because you loved the home and/or area?
"Certainly, this is a beautiful home, but I think all the homes have been special in one way or another. It wasn't that my dream was to win this specific home. I had never won anything before, but that hadn't deterred me from entering the contest."
Were you active on the blog and did you vote for home features?
"I have seen the shows, but I am not a blogger. I did not vote for the materials in the home. I do think that the people involved in the voting made about every choice I would have made if I were a participant. I loved seeing what people picked and generating ideas for my own projects at home. After winning, I have checked out the blog; it’s really interesting to see what people are writing and saying."
What was your initial reaction when you were told you won?
"First of all, I was in a state of shock and disbelief. Then I was overcome with nervousness as all these thoughts started running through my head as to what the implications of winning something like this really meant. I was overwhelmed with emotions — not only excitement that I had won something so spectacular but then the consequences of winning something so spectacular at the same time. I am a realist, so I was really struck by some of the practicalities of it all."
What are your plans for the home?
"I'd like to say immediately that I would keep it. It would be a great family vacation home for my grown children and their spouses. That is just a beautiful spot, a beautiful home, a beautiful location. Anyone would love to call that a second home. I have a job in North Carolina. I cannot leave my job, and I have two children in state universities right now. And so it's a tremendous blessing compounded by immediate financial uncertainty. I'd like to say unequivocally that I'd keep the home, but realistically it all still needs to be worked out."
If you kept the home, how would you redo the barn?
"The barn is probably the most exciting feature of the whole property. It has tremendous opportunities. I watched the video where Dean and Derek were talking about the possibilities of the barn, but I also think it would make a tremendous in-law home. I have older parents and so does my wife. You dream, in your parents' older years, of having a separate home adjacent to your own home on the property. I've seen on DIY Network some of the conversions of these barns. In a dream world, I would make that into a livable area, not the man cave or cigar room that Dean and Derek discussed. I would make it into a secondary in-law suite with an open-concept bedroom, kitchen and bath. That would be outstanding."
Jackson Riley Parker
A hand-excavated gravel drive leads to the home's basement level, where new garage and side entrance doors and a stone foundation lend cottage style to the vacation getaway. Tapered landscape beds, topped with natural cedar mulch, are planted with River Birch, Variegated Red Twig Dogwood and Limelight® Hydrangea.
How would you redo the basement?
"Since it's got a garage door, the basement would be the perfect place to cordon off and back a boat into, since there's a lake close by, just a mile away. Wouldn't that be great? You still have your two-car garage, and in the basement you keep your boat during the winter months."
If you keep the home, what might you change?
"In all honesty, nothing. The home is pretty outstanding. I know some bloggers had reservations about the closet. But I've lived in cold-weather climates before, so I know how important it is to have a closet as you come into a home. I wouldn’t change anything about it, to be honest with you. The only thing I might have added to it is underlayment heat in the bathroom, where you could step out of the shower on a cold winter's day and your tootsies would be warm because you have in-floor heating."
What is your favorite Blog Cabin 2010 space?
"The great room, because it really captures the view of the backyard. I love the backyard and to be able to sit in front of that fire pit. Now you can enjoy that view 365 days a year. The way you have that wall of windows in the great room, looking out through the backyard and the vista with the Catskills in the background. That has to be my most favorite part of the house."
Have you ever visited Bethel, N.Y., before?
"I am extremely familiar with Manhattan. I know very little about upstate New York. I've driven through the area many times but have never stayed in Sullivan County. I am familiar with Woodstock. I am a child of the '60s, but I was not old enough in the 1960s to understand Woodstock. I am familiar with how beautiful upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts can be."
How will this win affect your life?
"You hope it's going to be for the positive. You hope it's going to be a positive thing for your children. I am not an old man, but I am not a young man. I have two kids in college and pretty soon they will be moving on with their lives. And I hope that this will give them a nice start, or we will be able to keep this place and we will always, as a family, be able to visit here every year."