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Couple moves into dream house _ 10 years later

It was a case of deja vu that led Ken and Marie Birchby to their Dream Home.

Almost 10 years ago, when the Birchbys were looking at homes in Clearwater, Marie fell in love with an Arthur Rutenberg custom home. She even took the brochure back to their New Jersey home, where it spent the next decade in a closet.

Then last year, the Birchbys were selling their house and moving to Inverness to search for a retirement home. Marie was cleaning the closet and rediscovered the brochure. She decided to throw it away, since so much time had passed.

The Birchbys arrived in Inverness after selling their home and insurance agency. They moved in temporarily with Marie's mother, Maria Spadaccini, and traveled the state in search of a new home.

Then they toured a model home in Sugarmill Woods. Marie realized there was something familiar about the place.

"I said to myself, "This is the same one, a three-bedroom version of the same home I fell in love with in Clearwater,' " she said.

The quest for a dream home ended at that point. The Birchbys had found their home again. They decided to build in a new portion of Sugarmill Woods known as The Enclave.

Even though they were pleased with their discovery, they wanted to make personal changes to the model.

For starters, they added an extra 6 feet to the back of the house. That enabled them to convert one of the bedrooms into a second master bedroom for Marie's mother. The pool bath was remodeled into a second master bath and a half bath for the pool area was added.

With furnishings, they decided to start anew.

"All of our furniture from New Jersey was dark wood, and we wanted light colors for our Florida look," Marie said.

She gave away most of her old furniture to her two sons, who were moving out of the home, and bought new furnishings. The bright Florida colors complement the home's white carpet and white tiles surrounding the pool and spa.

Silk flower and green plant arrangements adorn the kitchen and den. They were created by Marie's mother.

Though the Birchbys have only been living in their new home since January, they have visited Maria for the past 20 years, Ken said. They became familiar with the area and chose to live in Citrus County near the water _ but not too near.

"We were around for the No-Name Storm in 1993, and that's when I said that we weren't going to live on the water," Marie said.

So the Birchbys chose Sugarmill Woods so they are close enough to the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy their favorite pastime _ boating and fishing _ but still be out of flood danger. Ken, 53, recently traded in a 31-foot cruiser for a smaller 25-foot boat that allows him to navigate the shallow gulf water a little better. He enjoys taking the boat out as often as he can for recreational fishing.

"When we had the cruiser, we took it from Canada to Key West. We would live aboard it for weeks at a time," Ken said.

Marie said she considers this their dream home.

"I always told him that if he wanted to move, that it would take a new home to convince me. That's why I call this our dream home, because it was built just for me," she said.


Owners: Ken and Marie Birchby, who live in The Enclave section of Sugarmill Woods.

Size: 3,900 square feet

Rooms: 4 bedrooms, 3{ baths, office, formal dining room and living room

Builders: Arthur Rutenberg custom home.