Change, the only constant in our lives, often comes in phases. After losing her husband, Deborah Bellina decided to retire and sell the company they owned. All this happened within months of Hurricane Katrina, another life-changing event. With family on the Northshore, she decided to relocate.
Bellina searched for a home all over, but could not find quite what she was looking for. “I looked in all the obvious places, but I really wanted some land,” she said. Her niece, an experienced realtor in the area, told her she might need to look outside of town to get the space she sought. A drive to the north side of Covington proved fruitful. While she and her niece were visiting other homes for sale, Bellina happened upon a “for sale by owner” sign at the front gate of the Villa Bella Estate. One visit was all she needed to fall in love with the house, whose name means “beautiful home” in Italian. Every aspect of the house and the meditative quality of the grounds were exactly what she wanted in a home for her new chapter of life. She bought the place immediately.
Bellina spent several months putting finishing touches on both the interior and exterior of the home. Outside, the grounds already featured lush, formal landscaping in the traditional Tuscan style. The structure and color gave a tranquil, private ambience with stunning vignettes around every turn. A full tennis court and a whimsical nine-hole miniature golf course offered afternoon entertainment options for athletic visitors. Bellina added the sparkling pool and cabana area. A Sicilian artisan did all of the marble work throughout the inside and outside of the home, adding extra touches of authenticity.
On the interior, Bellina confidently took on the design aspect of the project herself, carefully selecting the formal furnishings and luxurious custom touches found around every corner. She was intent on completing the Tuscan impression that the style of the home conveys. From exquisite materials on the walls, windows and floors to the incredible collection of art and sculptures, a step into the home is like a vacation abroad. Having visited a Las Vegas hotel property of close friend Steve Wyn, Bellina witnessed firsthand how perfectly constructed the signature elements of Italianate buildings could be. The work being done at the hotel was so exquisite that she brought home the idea for her master bathroom design. The paneled doors in that suite are now a sophisticated combination of cream, black and gold leaf that she first saw in Las Vegas. From the inlaid floors to the textured walls, the master suite is as well appointed as any five-star hotel. The magnificent four-poster bed was made to order in Italy and is complemented by symmetrical gilded mirrors over matching nightstands. Opulent silk draperies and custom bedding complete the world-class resort feeling. Even the guest suites are luxuriously appointed for anyone who is invited to rejuvenate themselves on the property.
One of Bellina’s favorite ways to use her home is to host fundraisers and events for organizations that are close to her heart. Her charitable organization, The Joseph & Deborah Bellina Foundation, focuses on better health for children. The close proximity of her home to St. Joseph’s Abbey creates a natural venue where she and husband, Thomas, can host both intimate dinners or larger gatherings. The baby grand piano in the formal living room provides a beautiful focal point for any event. Even the kitchen area is luxurious at Villa Bella, with richly upholstered barstools for perching and more touches of Italian marble surrounding the room. Soft lighting surrounds the room creating a peaceful, cozy place for visiting with loved ones.
The double-height ceilings of the living room with iron-trimmed balconies above convey a luxe old-world look. Bellina dedicated months to commissioning custom draperies, elegant furnishings and artisan painting techniques, elevating the house from classic elegance to ultimate opulence.
From the time it was built until now, the Villa Bella Estate has undergone growth and change to become what it is today. The same is true of its owner. Though her life has changed significantly, Bellina has grown in the process and found peace and comfort in coming home.