Then Chicken Soup For the Soul publisher Peter Vegso traveled to the Northwest, he was impressed by a pair of grizzly bears dashing across a rain-slicked road. So, he brought them home, figuratively speaking. Whimsical shrubbed figures of a mother and baby bear guard the front lawn of Peter and Ann Vegso’s Ocala residence. Real animals — horses, lots of them — grace the thoroughbred farm estate as well. However, vestiges of the Vegso’s travels are evident both outside and in. Extensive collections from every continent are infused in the home’s stunning interior.
“All of the things we love can be found in this home,” says Peter.
The expansive residence introduces its hospitable intentions upon entrance to the grand marble foyer as if to say, “Thank you for coming; you’re in for a treat.” A floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace holds command beneath a Venetian ballroom crystal chandelier that is cupped by a gilded scrolled dome. The adjoining living, family, and dining rooms are a visual feast playing upon one another, yet, never competing for individual attention. Each space serves as a vibrantly visceral backdrop to tell a story as rich as the home’s decor.
But this is probably what you would expect from someone like Peter, a successful book publisher.
Peter’s heritage is seen in the intimately appointed living room, where a picturesque corner holds an antique china cabinet that belonged to his mother. Other personal collections are layered throughout the space that is elegantly dressed in deep olive-toned upholstery, fringed chintz window treatments, and antiques. A carved mahogany fireplace mantel reveals a smiling face reminding visitors this is a place that doesn’t always take itself so seriously.
And if the living room invites one to lighten up, the family room across the foyer solicits complete relaxation. Two overstuffed burgundy striped chairs with matching ottomans offer soft, chenille throws, giving guests good reason to plop down and curl up by the massive stone fireplace. An oversized sofa of upholstered pillows and cushions is nestled next to the cherry cabinet housing an unobtrusive flat screen television. However, Ann says the best view in this room is seen through the glass doors leading to the black-bottomed pool and horse pasture.
“I just love to look out the window and see the horses,” she says.
As the family and living rooms tell the story of comfort, the kitchen weaves a tale of dining delight. The buttery scent of homemade cookies and apple pie seduce you into the space that is open to the entire first floor, making it the home’s culinary epicenter. A triple-beveled granite island serves as the focal point surrounded by Viking stainless steel appliances, lightly rubbed wood cabinetry, and a deep double-copper sink.
Multiple marble columns divide the kitchen from the dining room with red velvet upholstered chairs seated around a mahogany table. A wood-paneled ceiling envelopes the Tuscan-styled room.
Castle-like marble steps lead down a stone covered hallway to the game room that not only houses a full bar, pool table, and vintage pin ball machine, but also Peter and Ann’s wine collection.
“We find we spend a lot of our time down here because it’s so much fun,” adds Ann.
The second floor above the game room introduces a new chapter to the Vegso story — exploration. Peter calls this soothing space his “yoga room” with a mirrored wall and Asian-inspired canopied sitting bed. The walls are bathed in creamy yellow tones that gingerly bounce light from eclectic tin light fixtures.
Continuity with the internationally inspired decor extends into the opposite wing housing three bedroom suites. The China room, wrapped in deep red walls, spotlights a painted Chinese fire screen behind the gold and black chintz bedding. Peter’s Asian acquisitions are displayed in customized wall cubbies as a playful iconic Buddha sits on a dresser beside the bed. Even the bathroom entry gives an Oriental nod with sliding glass panel doors.
The French-styled guest bedroom is all about indulgence. A shimmery duvet of creams and turquoise dress the gold-filigreed iron bed beside a French provincial armoire. Guests tell Ann they never want to leave the Parisian-themed room.
“A friend of mine said she felt like Cinderella when staying in this room,” smiles Ann.
Massive arched wooden doors lead to the master bedroom adding the theme of welcome serenity to the Vegso story. Each element — from traditional furniture to sophisticated fabrics — complements the classically- styled master retreat. An Asian trunk sits in front of an English-dressed bed with comfy bedding of oranges, greens, and yellows. A marble gas fireplace offers warm fires and cozy nights with neighboring French doors opening to the courtyard and pool.
Perhaps the most dominant storyline for the Vegso’s Marion County retreat is their love of friends and family. So, it’s only natural that a furnished two-bedroom apartment is connected to the residence. With a full kitchen and two baths, guests can easily make the apartment a permanent home. As a matter of fact, it’s a wonder anyone would ever want to leave — something Peter fully understands.
“When I come to our Ocala home, I always want to stay and, mostly, want to take long naps,” he laughs.
Rest assured, sweet dreams are guaranteed at the Vegso home — a perfect ending to a story that’s good for the soul.