Home & Design

In the great room, reeded-oak slats flank a fireplace wall of leather mosaic above swirling travertine.

The dining room centers on two square walnut tables by Baltimore craftsman Harris Rubin. A custom, folded-steel range hood creates a focal point in the kitchen.

Deb Eastham of Lobkovich Kitchen Designs collaborated with the design team on the kitchen.

The loggia, furnished with pieces from Link’s Banyan Collection, boasts a heated-tile floor and glass doors on Lutron remote.

A grilling station and flamed-basalt fireplace anchor of the loggia.

An indoor pool opens to the garden.

Poolside dining furniture is from Link Outdoor.

The lower-level wine room sparkles with river glass and Ann Sacks tile.

The primary bedroom features a Julie Dasher rug designed by Martha Vicas. Integrated into a walnut-paneled wall, the custom headboard is upholstered in linen velvet from Larsen Fabrics.

An atmospheric wallpaper mural by Area Environments enlivens Melissa Delgado’s home office.

The owners’ bath is papered in Phillip Jeffries vinyl.

Architessa supplied the limestone floor tile and tub surround as well as a glass-tile accent wall depicting chrysanthemums.

Seen from the rear, the home boasts glass expanses that bring the outdoors in; landscape architect Joseph Richardson commissioned the armillary by British sculptor David Harber.

House for All Seasons

A design team masterminds a Great Falls estate with an emphasis on comfort and chic sophistication

On the terrace of an expansive new abode in Great Falls, the essence of this nearly 20-acre property is distilled into a single thoughtful element: an elegant, stainless-steel armillary. Perched on its pedestal, the astronomical sphere charts the passing of the seasons and marks the precise latitude and longitude of the low-slung, stone-and-stucco dwelling where Tony Colangelo and Melissa Delgado live with their twin first-graders, Sophia and Christopher. All four names are engraved amid the celestial rings, reflecting the sense of permanence that inspired the owners. This idyll is meant to sustain multiple generations—if not in perpetuity, then for a very long time.

“This is our ‘forever home,’” explains Colangelo, whose technology contracting firm is now headquartered above the garage. “We consciously designed and built for longevity and multi-generational support as well as for a sound investment.”

As for the armillary, which is set on axis with the imposing front entrance, Delgado, an obstetrician, adds, “We wanted something that was meaningful to us.”

The couples’ adventure began about five years ago. Already at home in Great Falls, they decided that a legacy of land would be a surer gift in 30 years than liquid assets. A real estate agent found them a property with two adjoining five-acre lots; one held a residence that was demolished while the other contained a paddock, which they retained.

The project was shepherded to completion 18 months ago by a team that included architect James McDonald, interior designer Martha Vicas and landscape architect Joseph Richardson. “It’s a Floridian-style villa on a gorgeous site,” enthuses McDonald, who heeded his clients’ mandate for single-level living—both for raising children now and aging in place later. As a result, the form is linear, encompassing about 6,000 square feet on the main level. Wide roof overhangs shelter generous northeast exposures through bifold and recessed glass doors. Dazzling gray-toned interior furnishings rise to any occasion under ceilings that are 24 feet high in the plush great room and 12 feet elsewhere.

The architect loves the way the massive front door pivots into a barrel-vaulted foyer with a view of the armillary. Left of the foyer is a teal-hued office for the doctor. From there, a cross hall ties the house together. Four en-suite bedrooms lie at the east end and two three-car garages off a breezeway connect to an enclosed pool on the west. In between, the hall opens to a flowing living space: great room, dining area, kitchen and loggia—all overlooking the rear landscape. Beyond a fringe of deer-proof boxwood and ornamental grasses, a lawn extends to woods through which the children can reach Delgado’s mother’s house, one of several adjoining properties since acquired.

“The thought behind the design was really to take advantage of multiple views and to maximize indoor-outdoor living opportunities,” McDonald says. “The architecture allows people to flow from indoor to outdoor spaces with ease.”

The couple’s wish list started with unified areas for cooking, dining and relaxing; an office for Delgado; and a pool. A partial lower level houses a second living room, theater, wine cellar, additional guest room and bath. The interiors had to be livable. “We’re not looking for ornate, we’re looking to be comfortable,” Colangelo says. “When we come home from a hard day’s work, or the kids from school, that’s important.”

Designer Martha Vicas provided sophistication and practicality, balancing Colangelo’s taste for contemporary and Delgado’s for traditional. Nap-ready sofas and chairs wear easy-to-clean fabrics in gray tones and subtle patterns. “We wanted timeless, classic design,” says Delgado. “Martha taught us we didn’t have to sacrifice comfort for style.”

Indeed, Vicas wove lavish elements throughout. In the great room, a fireplace wall combines swirling travertine and textured leather panels bracketed by reeded-oak slats that rise to the ceiling. “We wanted to celebrate the scale of that wall,” the designer explains. The elaborate leatherwork is echoed in the sculpted folds of a massive steel range hood in the chic kitchen by Lobkovich Kitchen Designs. Fixed on the wall opposite the fireplace, the hood becomes an art statement. Between those spaces, metallic cork wallpaper delineates the dining area, making it sparkle. The ceiling is faux-painted in a navy swirl. “It’s another pattern play,” Vicas says.

On a quieter note, the primary suite is a welcoming cocoon, embellished with wall panels of flame-grained walnut, linen and cream-colored cut suede. “We wanted a calm, serene environment,” Delgado remarks.

The family hangs out in the loggia, with its heated-tile floor, fireplace, grilling station and media screen. Retractable glass doors open to the armillary. “We try to include sculpture in every garden,” says landscape architect Joseph Richardson, noting that this one draws residents and guests outdoors.

When it came time to address the landscape, Richardson’s brief included the creation of a long drive through an allée of mature, ornamental pear trees ending in a circular arrival court. He added open expanses of lawn, meadows and a river birch grove, as well as an organic garden and greenhouse. A sunken meditation garden planted with colorful perennials promotes peaceful contemplation while enhancing the view from the owners’ bedroom. Woodland walking paths to Grandmother’s house may come next; Delgado envisions “an enchanted forest vibe.” Enjoying the long-term view, she says, “Each year, hopefully, it will evolve.”

Architecture: James McDonald, James McDonald Associate Architects, PC, Great Falls, Virginia. Interior Design: Martha Vicas, Allied ASID, M.S. Vicas Interiors, Washington, DC. Kitchen Design: Lobkovich Kitchen Designs, Tysons, Virginia. Builder: Artisan Builders, McLean, Virginia. Landscape Architecture: Joseph Richardson, PLA, ASLA, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Wheat’s Landscape Design + Construction, Vienna, Virginia. Styling: Kristi Hunter.


Chaises: linkoutdoor.com. Front Door Sconces: illuminc.com.

Fireplace Design & Art: studioart.it/en. Fireplace Stone: marblesystems.com. Fireplace Wall Paneling: artisanbuilds.com. Bench Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Sofa: Custom. Chaise: dmitriyco.com. Sofa Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Rug: Custom by juliedasherrugs.com. Chairs: aneesupholstery.com. Chair Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Wood Coffee Table: etsy.com. Rectangular Coffee Table: hollyhunt.com. Side Tables: charlestonforge.com. Drapery Fabric: kvadrat.dk/en/sahco. Drapery Fabrication: Leangs Interiors; 301-477-3065. Paint: Balboa Mist by benjaminmoore.com.

Table: Custom by harrisrubin.com. Chairs: bernhardt.com. Chair Fabric: weitznerlimited.com. Chandelier: bocci.com through illuminc.com. Rug: Custom by juliedasherrugs.com. Wall Cover: romo.com. Ceiling Treatment: artstarcustompaintworks.com.

Cabinetry: lobkovich.com. Countertop & Backsplash: glbtileandmarble.com through marblesystems.com. Stove & Cooktop: subzero-wolf.com through ferguson.com. Plumbing: brizo.com through ferguson.com. Hood Design: msvicasinteriors.com; lobkovich.com. Hardware: topknobs.com.

Sofa & Loveseats: linkoutdoor.com. Sofa & Loveseat Fabric: Great Outdoors through hollyhunt.com. Coffee & Side Tables: linkoutdoor.com. Rug: perennialsfabrics.com.

Table & Chairs: linkoutdoor.com. Backsplash: waterworks.com. Cooktop: subzero-wolf.com through ferguson.com. Wall Material: waterworks.com.

Lounge Chairs & Ottoman: linkoutdoor.com. Fabric: Mokum through jamesdunloptextiles.com. Sconces: urbanelectric.com. Dining Table & Chairs: linkoutdoor.com. Yellow Fabric: elitis.fr/en.

Wine Room Design: msvicasinteriors.com. Wine Room Fabrication: artisanbuilds.com. Glass: riverglassdesigns.com. Tile Flooring: annsacks.com. Cabinetry: lobkovich.com. Countertop: glbtileandmarble.com through marblesystems.com.

Bedding: sferra.com. Wall Upholstery: custom. Wall Paneling: artisanbuilds.com. Scones: brandvanegmond.com through illuminc.com. Side Tables & Bench: aneesupholstery.com. Bench Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Rug: Custom by juliedasherrugs.com. Drapery Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Drapery Fabrication: Leangs Interiors; 301-477-3065. Chaise: aneesupholstery.com. Chaise Fabric: Great Plains through hollyhunt.com. Dressing Room Drapery Fabrication: pierrefrey.com. Dressing Room Chest: bernhardt.com.

Tub: kohler.com. Floor & Tub Tile: architessa.com. Wallcovering: phillipjeffries.com. Bathtub Fixture: kohler.com through ferguson.com. Vanity: lobkovich.com. Countertop: glbtileandmarble.com. Tile: architessa.com. Sink Fixture: kohler.com through ferguson.com. Sconces: urbanelectric.com. Mirror: rh.com.



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