Kitchens and Moore: Elegant Pinewild Home Is on Annual Tour
A beautiful plantation-style home in Pinewild is one of the showplaces included on the annual Kitchensand Moore tour Thursday, Sept. 11.
The striking two-story tumbled brick residence of James and Cecelia Obi is set on a sloping rise at the end of a curving driveway, and features a sweep of gently arched porches across the face of the structure.
Originally from Nigeria, the couple has lived in the United States for more than 40 years, and they also have homes in Connecticut and Virginia. James Obi first came to this country at the time of an internecine conflict in Nigeria.
"It was unpleasant and unhealthy for me to stay," he says quietly, "and my wife was able to join me later."
James Obi pursued a career in insurance and financial services with AXA Equitable, while Cecelia was "the chief executive officer" of their home, as he describes her position as a stay-at- home mother of one daughter and three sons. Their offspring are now all married, and they have six grandchildren.
"The building of this home was my wife's idea," James Obi says. "We had been coming to Pinehurst for several years, and at first we bought and still own condominiums in the village. Then about three years ago, Cecelia thought it was time to put down some roots in Pinehurst, and we found the two side-by-side lots, engaged architect David Anderson Nichols, and chose the builder -- the Rhetson Companies. We moved into the place in May."
Details of the design came from Cecelia Obi, and she worked very closely with the architect and the builder to achieve a finished result. For many years, she has taken an avid interest in interior design and has immersed herself in decorating periodicals and books, according to her husband. He points out that he had input in only two areas of the Pinewild home -- a splendid octagonal shower enclosure in the master bath, and his hideaway study.
A magnificent crystal chandelier graces the welcoming foyer, and is hung from a gold leaf faux-finished ceiling. A pair of gorgeous four-foot high antique Chinese vases flank the entrance, and beyond is a lovely golf course view through expansive picture windows in the two-storied great room.
Paintings from Tunisia and Peru are displayed above the windows, with the emphasis on several from a collection of a well-known Nigerian artist. In a corner of the great room hangs a brilliant landscape of a mountain-filled scene. The landscape was bought by James Obi at an auction some time ago.
"I liked it, and wanted to have it, and have treasured it over the years," he says.
At one end of the great room, a flat-screen television is placed above a granite-faced fireplace, edged by two deep blue gold-trimmed vases from New York City's Plaza Hotel. Cecelia Obi says, "We had stayed in a room that was decorated with the vases, and when the hotel was being renovated some time ago, the vases were available for sale, and I snapped them up."
On either side of the fireplace are built-in shelves containing special Nigerian, Balinese and Jamaican artifacts and small paintings that the couple have picked up in their travels around the world. They still have family in Nigeria, whom they visit once each year, and their travels have taken them to Asia and Europe, as well as to Africa.
Nearby is a grouping of two antique English chairs with tapestry woven seats bearing the royal lion's head accompanied by a mahogany side table footed by lions' heads. Dominating the furnishings of the great room are two oversized cream-colored leather sectional couches, accented by chocolate brown pillows.
At the other end of the room stands an elongated granite-topped bar. Metal and leather barstools and a hidden icemaker and dishwasher provide the finishing touches on this inviting addition to the great room.
The granite on the hearth of the fireplace and on the bar has also been used in the adjoining kitchen. A swirling pattern of russet, caf au lait and azure, known as Juperana Indian Gold, tops a large free-form center island, as well as a wrap-around breakfast bar seating six in comfortable arm-chaired stools. An attractive bay window is the perfect spot for an informal dining table.
The kitchen has all the cutting-edge appliances and accessories, such as a warming drawer in the center island opposite the stove, a dishwasher stowed neatly under the breakfast bar, and the latest style Kohler fixtures in the sink. A Kitchen Aid refrigerator is faced by burnished aluminum double doors. The backsplash for the cooktop, which is adjacent to the double oven, bears the same floral medallions used throughout the house separating the floor tiles.
Tall cabinets with a natural off-white finish are somewhat unusual, as they are topped by smaller cabinets in which Cecelia has placed keepsake pieces of glassware and china.
James Obi attests to the fact that Cecelia is an excellent cook. She uses cuisines from all over the world -- African, Scandinavian, European, Asian -- as well as American. For instance, she recently tried a recipe she found for Spanish Oxtail Stew.
"It was very, very good," he says, enthusiastically.
Adjacent to the kitchen is a butler's pantry that Cecelia sometimes uses as her office. The space also contains a dumbwaiter, the principal use for which is to transport James' bottles of wine to the lower level for storage in a sizable wine cellar.
The dining room is lit by an elegant crystal chandelier, and of note is the faux-finished ceiling, done in a jade green tone matching the bands of color on the Wedgewood china that is the service most often used for dinner parties. A trio of glass-fronted side-by-side cabinets hold the Wedgewood service, Irish Stewart crystal, and antique china that James and Cecelia Obi have collected from various parts of the world. Among the treasures are a gold-trimmed Bavarian dinner service, pre-World War II Noritake china from Japan, and elaborately decorated Malaysian cups and saucers.
The dining table is enhanced by a pair of antique bronze candleholders. The unique arrangement features the head of a Roman god and three receptacles for candles. In the center of the table is a lovely glass bowl with cherubs around the sides. The bowl carries out the theme of cherubs, found on the face of an antique Italian clock that is part of the room's wall dcor, and also augmented on a Victorian pink double globe lamp on a side table.
James Obi describes how they saw the piece in Paris, and were told that it was the remaining one of five that had been handcrafted.
"I carried it carefully back to the hotel, and then it rested on my lap on the long transatlantic flight back to the United States," he says.
Across the foyer is a formal living room, decorated in pastel floral tones of peach, rose and pink. The colors are repeated in a beautifully designed carpet from India. Highlighted is an antique handcarved settee with white damask upholstery. Two of the stunning landscapes in the room -- one of Lake Como and the other of Positano, as well as one of Bellagio hung on a nearby wall -- are by Lilianna Frasca, an Italian artist, whose work Cecelia has long admired. She has other paintings by the same artist in their homes in Connecticut and Virginia.
In the hallway leading to the master suite are a selection of pen and ink drawings by artist Lolita Savage, who divides her time between New York City and a villa in Tuscany. The color scheme in the master bedroom is a cool off-white accented by tones of taupe and mushroom. A mahogany four-poster bed is set off by handsome floor to ceiling damask drapes, artfully caught in the center of the panels. The master bath has not only the spectacular octagonal shower enclosure, but also a deep Jacuzzi tub, and separate vanities and closets for the couple.
Other features of this eminently livable home are a media room with an automatically controlled screen for watching films, DVDs and television, furnished with gray leather sectionals; a powder room; a game room with a pool table, poker table and a bar; and James Obi's study. The lower level, in addition to the wine cellar, contains an exercise room and three guest bedrooms and baths.
Those taking the Kitchensand Moore tour of the dramatic home of James and Cecelia Obi on Sept. 11 will sample the signature lobster bisque and shrimp and grits of Chef Mark Elliott of Elliott's on Linden, and will be welcomed to the home by hostess Shirley Donaldson and her committee.
The Kitchensand Moore tour is sponsored by the Moore County Extension and Community Association. Proceeds benefit youth groups such as Moore County 4-H Clubs and Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.
According to event chairperson Carolyn Register, other homes on the tour are the Pinehurst homes of Ron and Barbara Archbold at National Golf Club; J. J. and Nancy Jackson on Fairwoods No. 7; Steve and Nan Moore in Pinewild; and Joyce White. Also on the tour is the home of Don Thompson in Southern Pines.
Tickets on the day of the tour are available for $20 at the Village Chapel Hall in Pinehurst and at each house.
Advance tickets for $15 are available at the Faded Rose in Pinehurst; at the Hallmark Store in Pinecrest Plaza and at Gap Creek Candle Company in Southern Pines; Phoenix Fashions in the Seven Lakes Plaza; or at the Cooperative Extension Office in Carthage.
Call (910) 947-3188 for further information.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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