Generational bliss

living room

Robert and Judie Budnick’s Tesoro home has Old World charm with views of three golf holes and no other homes in sight.

Tesoro home balances privacy, comfort, beauty and togetherness perfectly


A seemingly endless journey to find the right design for Judie S. Budnick’s perfect home ended when a butterfly flew in front of her while she was looking at blueprints.

Budnick and her husband, Robert, traveled up the coast from Broward County to North Carolina and back down Florida’s West Coast, viewing more than 500 homes in dozens of communities before the floor plan came to her in the flutter of a butterfly’s wings.

On a sweeping lot in the exclusive Port St. Lucie community of Tesoro, the home’s design had to be to be comfortable for her mother and a nurse as well as the couple and their teenage son. The heart of the butterfly is the living room, kitchen and family room, which all open out to the most spectacular views in Tesoro with a natural lake, three golf holes and no houses.

“The privacy this property affords us you won’t find anywhere in the U.S.,” said Robert Budnick, a former vice president of a Fortune 500 company that buys and sells companies. “When we saw it (Tesoro in 2002) by helicopter it was forest and swamp. We are founding owners here.”

Three generations enjoyed their privacy in the home — by design.

“It couldn’t look like an adult living facility and my son had to be able to have his friends over,” Judie said.

The right wing has a study converted from a bedroom after the couple became empty nesters. At the end of the hallway are two guest bedrooms that were home to a nurse and her mother, Lora Schneider, until she died in 2011. A talented sculptor, several of Schneider’s pieces are on display around the house.

“The artwork in this house is a labor of love over a lot of years,” Robert said.

One particular art piece of two sandhill cranes took a Chinese woman three years working full time to finish before she lost her eyesight. It looks like a painting on metal, but the 30-by-40-inch image was made from small pieces of silk.

A vestibule in the left wing of the home leads to his and her offices and the master suite, which opens out to the pool deck. With large windows and its corner location, the tub has the most amazing views in the community. The curved-wall, rock-surfaced shower has two entrances and its own computer system to operate the different jets.


With its own breakfast island, the large kitchen has state of the art labor-saving cabinets that allow appliances to rise up to counter level.

During the two years of design work, the couple went through two architects before settling on one who understood what they were trying to do.

“I looked at so many floor plans, but none fit our needs for three generations,” said Judie, a former Broward County School Board member elected twice as a Republican in the heavily Democratic county. “The hardest part was finding an architect who would draw what we wanted. You have to look at what your needs are. Practicality function follows form.”

Budnick marvels at his wife’s attention to every aspect of design. “Judie is the creative genius behind this house,” he said. “She spent a huge number of hours in the design of this place and everything in this house has that minutia attention to detail,” he said.

“No one puts a warming tray in the butler’s pantry,” Judie said.

Seven other residents of Tesoro installed warming trays after seeing the Budnicks’ pantry, she said. Kitchen cabinets open and appliances rise up to be moved easily onto the counter. A custom-built colander and cutting board snugly fit into the sink for easy dicing of fruits and vegetables.

The master suite’s his and her closet — which Robert describes as typical for a marriage — is 92 percent hers and 8 percent his. It has a built-in hamper for dry cleaning clothes.


There is ample room beside the large pool for cocktail parties supported by a summer kitchen.

It would take three years for Lavelle Construction of Jupiter to build the home.

“Once we got started it was a breeze, a collaboration,” Judie said. “They understood the whole concept and they were perfectionists.”

The couple has hosted many parties including a New Year’s Eve party with sit-down dining for 103 people. In addition to hosting parties for neighbors, the Budnicks have held fundraisers for charities and political candidate meet-and-greets. With 20 speakers inside and out, the sound system allows anyone to address people everywhere in the home. The sound system also lets the couple enjoy their different music tastes in separate rooms.

While visiting the Catherine Palace south of St. Petersburg, Russia, Judie fell in love with the design of a hallway with its arches. She drew some sketches and the hallway in the guest wing has the same look.

Without any formal training, Judie helped several wives of Miami Dolphins players redecorate their homes. The Budnicks were season ticket holders for 35 years.

“During the two years of designing this house, I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I would wake up in the middle of the night and take down notes. It is a fabulous challenge, using imagination and thought to end up with something as concrete as a house. Houses don’t define people. People define houses.”

master guest suite

Most of the rooms in the home have lake and golf course views including the master guest suite.

“You will not find a home with this type of finishing touches,” Robert said. “The designs of the ceilings are as important as the designs of the rooms.”

The heart of the house and the master suite have beautiful shimmer stone finishes on the ceilings, accented by crown molding. Custom wood cabinets found throughout the home were built by craftsmen from Jupiter.

With 8,000 square feet and 5,200 under air conditioning, it is hard to imagine this house sits on less than one-half acre. A guest of the Budnicks was so taken by the view that he bought the lot next door and built a home, making sure the landscaping meshed perfectly with his neighbors.

The entranceway is striking with a huge iron and glass door made in Mexico. Two workers from the company flew to Florida, measured and stenciled the opening so the door would fit perfectly. Once in the foyer, the view is stunning across the pool to the lake. The walls and columns on either side are crushed marble.

When the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami was built, the Budnicks were able to buy enough of the remainder of the Italian marble for their flooring needs. Judie made all the design selections including fabrics, paints, colors and hardware down to the door knobs.

master bath

Judie’s bathtub in the master bathroom boasts the best golf course views in the Tesoro community.

“We are an Old World family and we accomplished it, building this house to live as one family, meet our special needs and keep my mother in comfort,” Judie said. “Now that it is just the two of us, I can really appreciate the views. This is the best of both worlds. We live in the country club community. We have ambience and the view. It is extraordinary to have this much privacy.”

The Budnicks have decided to downsize, looking to build a 3,000 square foot home in Palm Beach County. “We will be closing one door, but opening another,” said Robert. “It won’t be long before we are missing the room of this house.”

Judie said she expects more sleepless nights as she begins the design process again.

The cul-de-sac home is listed for $1,299,000 by Cinda Glor of Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach Gardens.