Is Real Housewives of New Jersey star Kathy Wakile cooking up a new career as a house flipper? Quite, possibly. The successful cookbook author has developed a passion for designing houses, while building her dream home with hubby Rich Wakile. The parents of two — daughter Victoria Wakile and son Joseph Wakile — custom built and designed their new Franklin Lakes abode from the ground up.
I had the delightful pleasure of spending the day with her, munching on some delicious Indulge by Kathy Wakile desserts, while she gave us a tour of the sprawling property. Watch below for your exclusive first look inside her beautiful Mediterranean-country style home.
After a couple years of hard work, the Wakiles are finally able to sit back, relax, and enjoy their Mediterranean-country style home:, which they built from the ground up. Kathy tells me, “We found the lot, and took some time deciding on our plans. We wanted to have an old world feeling, with contemporary lines.”
Kathy spends most of her time in the kitchen so the room was central to the planning because “I wanted to be able to stand at my stove, and be able to feel what was happening in the house.” The kitchen, fittingly her favorite room in the home, is open and airy, but still warm at the same time. She says, “I don’t have any upper cabinets, because I didn’t want to obstruct my view from what was happening in the house. I wanted it to be an easy flow. I wanted the outdoors in, so I wanted a lot of windows.”
Another interesting feature in the kitchen is that instead of one big island in the middle, Kathy broke it up into two smaller ones. “It’s very difficult to get around when you have a big, big island. I call it Kathy’s Triangle. The stove, your sink, and refrigerator. A chef needs to be able to access that at all times.”
The mom of two hosts a lot of dinner parties at the home, so she has not one, but two gorgeous, commercial grade ovens. Her biggest party to date was her Christmas Eve/Housewarming Party, which Kathy wasted no time hosting. “We moved in on December 23rd, and December 24th, Christmas Eve, we had 80 people here, and it was so much fun. They didn’t leave til like 5 in the morning. I put up four Christmas trees, and it really was just a great time. It felt like home immediately.”
The PalaBingoUSA host told me she took her time designing the home to make sure they achieved the right look she was envisioning, which was an old world feel, but with a lot of modern and light lines. It took them about a year just to get the plans set, but it was well worth it, she says. “We were filming the show, we were traveling, I was starting my dessert business, I was writing my cookbook, so there was a lot of things happening, and we really needed to concentrate, and I kept changing my mind, and fine tuning things,” she told me. “I don’t think when you build a house, especially a house of this size, you should be rushing into any decisions.”
Another favorite room is their family room, which is an extension of the kitchen, and features a gorgeous, custom designed bar. She tells me, “We call this the hearth room because it is cozy and warm. I wanted it to be in this spot because this is where everything happens. So why make a bar somewhere else when you are all joined around, and your having cocktails and food, and this is the perfect place for it. And when we’re entertaining outside it’s easy access.”
Another unique feature about Kathy’s home is that she doesn’t have a master staircase. Kathy tells me this is because she wanted to bring the outdoors in, “When we were designing the house, I wanted to to be able to come from the front door, and be able to see the pool. I wanted that open air. That’s why I didn’t have any stairs in the way. When you walk in, you don’t see the stairs, they’re hidden. I really think that was so necessary. You can see a little hint of the stairs in the railing.”
Another favorite spot where the family loves to hang out together is their poolside patio. Kathy tells me, “It’s really relaxing. We sit out here almost every night. We have our Netflix, we watch Bravo, we have it all out here, and hang outside, and enjoy the summer. You know in New Jersey we get so few months to really enjoy it, so we try to take advantage of it as much as we can.”
Kathy designed the home to be family oriented. She says, “My kids, that are grown adults now, this is their home. I’m not in any rush to get rid of them. I want them here, I want their friends here, and all of our family. Everyone gathers here.”
Kathy says that she and Rich enjoyed the process so much, that they’re ready to do it again. “My husband is already starting to look for different lots, and different properties, to either rehab them and do another house, or find another from the ground up and do it that way.”
They even already have a shore house redo in the works. She says, “We have one already in the process. We have a Jersey Shore property that we are planning to redo. It was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and we bought it when it was damaged already. We are trying to decide if we’re going to rehab it, or knock it down. It’s a beautiful spot, right on the open bay, and that will be my artwork.”
You can see more of Kathy and her beautiful home when Season 7 of RHONJ premieres on July 10.