What do you get when you team a former collegiate gymnast with a former college quarterback? In the case of Ann and Steadman Shealy, the answer is one of Tuscaloosa’s most elegant yet family-friendly homes.

The couple, who met when they were student-athletes at the University of Alabama and married soon after, built StoneWood Farms, a grand French-chateau-style estate that overlooks Lake Tuscaloosa, 13 years ago.

“When Steadman and I found this property, it was wooded,” Ann said. “I see in 3D. I wanted to angle the house in a certain way so that we could experience the best views of the sunrise and the sunset.”

With the help of local builder Mark Hearing, the home has accomplished just that. The postcard view of the lake is enhanced by the placement of a swimming pool. The steps from the home’s stone lanai lead down a tier to the pool area.

“We decided to go down a tier for the pool. I think it helps give the view some depth,” Ann said.

The lanai, which overlooks the lake and pool, has seating as well as an outdoor built-in fireplace for chillier nights.

“We love to be outside,” Ann said.

The roofline was raised for scale and to gain space. Ann and Steadman found the antique wrought iron used on the balconies on a trip to New Orleans.

The grounds surrounding the home include a rose garden that flanks the boys’ wing.

“My mama is a gardener. She loves flowers. She’s been my inspiration for the rose garden. We both love antique roses,” Ann said. “I love to sit out there on a bench. It’s so peaceful, one of my favorite spots.”

Ann also enlisted guidance from Petals From the Past, a nursery and garden store in Jemison. A member of the staff there came to Tuscaloosa to advise on plants to use as well as design. Boxwoods are used as borders. The gardens include roses, gardenias, hydrangeas, delphinium and foxglove. There are also herbs and vegetables planted on the grounds.

The quadrant garden, located outside the girls’ wing, has four sections with boxwood, a crabapple tree and Knockout shrub roses among the plantings. A large patch of green grass flanks that garden.

That space has been the site for several weddings. Chairs are set up to face the lake so the guests may watch the ceremony and take in the picturesque backdrop the lake offers. A walk down a nearby hill leads to the Shealys’ dock.

The estate’s grounds, which include a stable for the family’s three horses, are so inviting that it has become a popular wedding destination and event venue. The pool has a 24-by-24 flooring cover so that sections can be decorated with flowers and candles.

“What makes me happiest when we host a wedding is when the mother of the bride comes up to me after the wedding and will tell me that coming into our house makes them feel at home, that it is warm and inviting,” Ann said.

Despite its scale, the Shealys have managed to make their family’s home welcoming and intimate. The furnishings match the scale without being overpowering. Ann and Steadman are parents of five, Jacqueline, Steadman III, Anna Katherine, Robert and John David. And they have five grandchildren, Caleb, Eleora Rose, Jedadiah, Liam Ezra and Isaiah.

Collette Day, with Gracefully Done in Northport, helped with some of the furnishings. Color is used throughout, with melon, blues and greens to brighten the living area.

The fireplace mantels in the lanai and the living area are French limestone. There is a marble mantel in the keeping room.

The home features four porches, seven balconies, four fireplaces (two are back-to-back), two chimneys, seven full bathrooms, one powder room, seven bedrooms and two wings. A full apartment occupies one of the wings. The third-floor suite, which they call the “bridal suite,” is a combination guest room (with an en suite bathroom) and bedroom/sitting area/changing area for a bridal party to use.

“I didn’t plan on a third-floor suite,” Ann said. “But, when we were in the building process, me, being a gymnast, I climbed up a ladder to check the space out, and I saw the most beautiful view in the house. I said we have to have a room there. Originally, it was going to be more attic space.”

The stone flooring throughout the main level’s living areas and kitchen is Ancient Castle Travertine. The rest of the home’s flooring is walnut. In the kitchen, the countertops are granite to go with the custom cabinetry. The kitchen island was cleverly designed by Ann.

“I wanted it to be U-shaped. I hadn’t seen a U-shaped island before, but it made sense to me,” she said of the space, which allows her to step into the cooking area and be surrounded with easy access to cabinets. “It gave me more cabinet space. It’s very functional. I love how it turned out.”

Light and windows fill the home.

“When I designed the house, I wanted as many rooms as possible to view the lake,” she said.

On the first level, the main entrance doors and the back entrance, which leads to the lanai, are dog-trot style. A breeze runs through the home’s center when both are opened. The antique double doors at the front entrance were a find in Dallas. They are nestled inside an arch.

“I like to open the doors and sit on the sofa and look at the views of the arch and the roses that are planted in front,” Ann said.

The main level includes the living room, a formal dining room with a table that seats 12, and a breakfast room that seats 10. There are two pianos, one in the living room and the other in the library. The living room is roomy enough that Ann said when their boys were little, Steadman taught them how to ground baseballs, using grout lines in the tiles as baselines. The ceiling is painted mahogany and trimmed in bronze. The walls are blue with caramel faux paint.

“Painting the ceiling that color just made everything come together and the house more cozy. Before, it was just white and I felt like you lost yourself in the room.”

A stairwell inside the front entrance curves and leads to the second-floor level where two open-concept rooms overlook the living room. The lake is in full view from these areas.

“We wanted those areas to be where people could circulate, watch football, tennis or whatever and still have the view.”

One side of what they refer to as “Steadman’s den area” has a pool table. The other side contains memorabilia from Steadman’s days when he played quarterback at Alabama. A framed photo shows the couple on their 1981 wedding day, posed with guests Paul “Bear” Bryant, UA’s football coach, and Mal Moore, former UA player, assistant coach and athletics director.

One wall has a photo of their daughter, Jacqueline, from when she, like her mom, was a member of Alabama’s gymnastics team. There are also two large ceramic elephants, the Crimson Tide’s mascots, which Ann says the small grandchildren love to climb on and “ride.”

“The den was designed for entertaining,” Ann said. “We wanted everyone to be connected and to be able to see the lake when we are entertaining.”

This is the third home the couple has lived in since they married. Ann is a native of Heflin. Steadman grew up in Dothan. They lived in Dothan before they moved to Tuscaloosa 20 years ago. They also have a vacation home in Inlet Beach, Florida.

They met when Ann was a freshman and Steadman a sophomore at Alabama.

“My roommate was from Dothan, and she had been to a Christian church camp and met him there. She said, ‘I’ve got someone you need to meet.’ ”

They met. And, in 1981, while he was still in law school, they married. Their happily ever after isn’t taking place in a castle, but the chateau is perhaps even better.

“We’ve enjoyed living here,” she said. “I think Mark (Hearing) did a great job making our ideas come together. We love having the family here, swimming in the pool or just being all together.”