Home’s anti-cancer theme resonates for new owners

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, September 22, 2011

Most of the major construction is finished on the Get Pink with Sentara Breast Cancer Awareness House, which will be open to the public during Homearama, and work on the driveway is being completed. Rick and Michelle Buonfigli purchased the house earlier this year before any work had been started, and the couple has been instrumental in the decisions for the house.

When Rick and Michelle Buonfigli contacted builder John W. “Chip” Iuliano about building a new house in The Riverfront at Harbour View, they never imagined thousands of strangers would tour their rooms before they ever could.

From Oct. 15 to 30, the Buonfiglis’ new home will be featured alongside eight others at the Tidewater Builders Association’s fall Homearama at The Riverfront in Harbour View.

“Overall, we’re really excited,” Rick Buonfigli said. “We think it’s going to be a beautiful home.”

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The Craftsman-style home is 3,813 square feet and has 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. There is an in-ground swimming pool with a pool house that has an outdoor kitchen and bathroom; a chef’s kitchen with granite countertops and cast-iron undermount sink; in-wall speakers throughout the downstairs; a two-car garage; and many other features.

Rick and Michelle Buonfigli wanted to move back to The Riverfront at Harbour View, where they lived before moving to Chesapeake for last year. Michelle Buonfigli, a breast cancer survivor, inspired the breast cancer awareness theme of the home.

During the Homearama event, more than 85,000 people are expected visit the home showcase, and the Buonfiglis’ home has a little something extra to draw people’s attention — it’s themed to breast cancer awareness.

Their home is being sponsored by Sentara and is named the Get Pink with Sentara Breast Cancer Awareness house.

Guests will be able to participate in various breast health activities, such as mobile mammograms and health food demonstrations.

“When we first purchased the house, I asked Michelle, ‘How is it going to be, to not be the first person to cook in your new kitchen?’” Rick Buonfigli said.

But the couple doesn’t mind the extra people, because the theme is close to their hearts.

In fact, Michelle Buonfigli, a breast cancer survivor, was the inspiration behind the “Get Pink House.”

“They were looking for a theme for the home,” Rick Buonfigli said. “And since she’s a breast cancer survivor, and October is breast cancer awareness month, it seemed like a good theme.”

Rick and Michelle said they are normally private about things, but they look forward to helping to spread understanding about breast cancer through Michelle’s story and their new home.

“If it’s going to help anyone through awareness, it’s worth it,” Michelle Buonfigli said.

When Michelle Buonfigli was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, the couple was living in The Riverfront. She said her neighbors’ support for her during her treatment was a big part of the reason she wanted to return to the community.

“When I got sick, the neighbors rallied around me,” she said. “They were wonderful people, and I missed it. That’s why we’re going back.”

After deciding to return to The Riverfront, the couple contacted Iuliano, who told them they should purchase a Homearama house. The Buonfiglis have worked with Iuliano on homes before, and they are excited about living it one of his homes again.

“He’s the type of builder that, once you have one of his homes, you want him to build another one,” Rick Buonfigli said. “He builds a great home.”

And its connection to Homearama means their new home will be even better than they’d hoped, the couple said.

“A lot of the amenities we’ve gotten, we wouldn’t have gotten if it weren’t for Homearama,” he said. “You get upgrades you wouldn’t usually get, and it makes it more of a payoff.”

Two of their favorite features of the house are the swimming pool and outdoor kitchen area with granite counter tops.

Despite a strict Homearama schedule, the Buonfiglis have been active in the decisions about everything from carpet color to plumbing fixtures. The couple picked the layout for each room, the type of cabinets used in the kitchen and even the color and style of the shingles.

And on top of the pressure of making those decisions, Rick and Michelle had to consider the time.

“You have to be ahead of it, because it has to be delivered when they are ready to install,” Rick Buonfigli said. “It’s overwhelming.”

Despite the strict Homearama schedule, both Michelle and Rick said the experience of building a Homearama house has been positive.

“I’ve had a lot of fun doing it,” Michelle Buonfigli said.

“Out of all the houses we’ve built, this has been the most enjoyable, even with the schedule,” Rick Buonfigli said.

The Get Pink House can be toured during Homearama from Oct. 15 to 30. Tickets for the event are $10 for a one-day pass and $17 for two days. For more information visit www.homearama.tv.