Family Connections

Staying connected was of paramount importance to architect Christian Lessard when he created this distinctive, 6,300-square-foot beauty in Great Falls, Va., for his family.

August 01, 2002


I am constantly looking at what other builders are doing around the country. You get lots of new ideas that way. — Bob Simmons, Mayfair Homes

Staying connected was of paramount importance to architect Christian Lessard when he created this distinctive, 6,300-square-foot beauty in Great Falls, Va., for his family.

“Being able to entertain friends and keep an eye on the kids at the same time is just a part of our lifestyle,” says Lessard, who has two young sons and a teenage daughter. “The living space in the house is designed to flow seamlessly from the formal areas to the informal areas, allowing the children and adults to continuously interact with each other.” Although it is family-friendly, the three-level floor plan also includes retreat spaces that provide the adults with functional areas of seclusion. These include a large master suite, a “secret” office so Lessard can work at home, a cozy wine cellar with a tasting area, and even a separate apartment for his daughter above one of the two garages.


“Specialty spaces are very important to my customers,” says Bob Simmons, president of Mayfair Homes, the builder of Lessard’s home. “They convey that sense of ‘arrival’ that many of my clients are looking for. In this house the retreat spaces are thoughtfully designed in both form and function.”

The lower-level wine cellar is Lessard’s personal retreat. “It is probably the most stuffy spot in what is otherwise a fairly informal house,” Lessard says. The room’s striking cherry finishes surround a central tasting space.

The home’s living space is characterized by soaring ceilings and an open interior in which many of the entertaining areas are combined visually. “Creating a sense of volume was very important here,” Lessard says. Standard ceiling heights of 10 feet soar to two stories in the living and family rooms.

Savory Space

• Although the wine cellar was originally intended to have a traditional European design, architect/homeowner Christian Lessard says he decided to depart from that conventional look and use the room as living space. Its clean, contemporary appearance blends beautifully with the home’s overall style.

• Lessard included a built-in inglenook and a fireplace, an unusual feature for a wine cellar, into his lower-level retreat.

• These elements really dictated the layout of the room,” he says.

• The gas fireplace features remote-control lighting, a solid-cherry mantel and a granite surround.

• Aside from the inglenook, a separate arrangement of overstuffed wing chairs creates an inviting tasting space and conversation area for Lessard and his guests.

• Custom-built cherry cabinetry features a combination of raised-panel and beveled glass doors. The glass doors reveal the cellar’s temperature- and humidity-controlled wine-storage space, which has enough capacity to rival that of a fine restaurant.

• The coffered ceiling features an artificially aged world map that complements the room’s faux-finished, textured ceiling.

• Flooring is 12x12-inch African slate tile.

The main floor provides the ideal setting for formal entertaining. The foyer, which has a two-story barrel ceiling, opens directly into the sunken living room. Two steps up, the dining room is defined by a custom-built serving buffet and a raised ceiling treatment with cove lighting.

The home’s lower level is used for parties, family events and general relaxation, says Lessard. The recreation room can function as a single large space or be divided into separate entertaining areas and includes a media room and a mini-kitchen with sit-down wet bar.

The home was designed with an irregular footprint to take full advantage of the steeply sloped, heavily wooded site, providing much of the living space with views of the surrounding “parklike setting,” Lessard says.

Style of Home| Contemporary eclectic

Location| Great Falls, Va.

Total Square Footage| 6,300

Market Value| $1.8 million

Hard Costs |$285 per square foot (excluding land)

Builder| Mayfair Homes, McLean, Va.

Architect| The Lessard Architectural Group, Vienna, Va.

Wine Cellar Designer| Sandy Hook Woodworks, Luray, Va.

Custom Client| Architect’s home

Major Products Used| Appliances: Amana, KitchenAid, Dacor | Cabinetry: custom cherry (wine cellar), custom maple (family room) | Countertops: Absolute Black granite | Doors: Norco | Exterior Finish: Dryvit | Flooring: African slate (wine cellar), Brazilian cherry, maple, limestone | HVAC: Carrier | Windows: Marvin

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