Tucked at the end of a long road in McLean and hugged by National Park Service land, Belle Demeure, or Beautiful House, was inspired by a French chateau.
Château de Chambord is one of the most recognizable chateaux in the world and the largest in the Loire Valley. Built by Francis I in 1519, the Renaissance palace is a majestic mix of French and Italian influences; some say that Leonardo da Vinci had a hand in its design.
When designing their home, the owners of Belle Demeure tried to replicate many of Chambord’s distinctive features, such as its roofscape and double-helix staircase.
Though not as exuberant as Chambord’s roof, Belle Demeure’s collection of Vermont slate gables, asymmetrical chimneys and copper finials creates a picturesque roofscape.
The entrance to the home is as grand as it is inviting. Italian marble warmed by the sunlight pouring through the curved mahogany windows that frame the wooded setting suffuses the two-story foyer with a soft glow. The wide sweeping staircase with its iron railing rises gracefully to the upper level.
Deep plaster moldings with tree branch details in the formal rooms are a nod to the surrounding woodlands. Matching limestone fireplaces bring symmetry to the dining and living rooms.
Separating the dining room from the informal hearth room is a staircase reminiscent of Chambord’s famous double helix.
Stone walls and reclaimed wood beams give the kitchen a rustic and Old World feel. An oversized fireplace, one of seven on the main level and nine in the home, warms the family room.
Near the elevator that runs among the three floors are his-and-her offices. His office is done in cherry wood with a lion motif and includes the tower portion of the home. Her office has an aviary theme and overlooks the forest and the salt-water swimming pool. Cleverly tucked between the offices is a long narrow room that hides the necessities of modern life, such as printers and other electronics. Everything in the automated house runs off iPods and iPads that have been built into the walls.
The master suite on the top level has a circular sitting area within the tower-portion of the bedroom, his-and-her dressing areas and an oval bathroom with an onyx and marble mosaic tile floor. The spacious bathroom has a mirror television, a double-slipper tub, his-and-her toilet rooms — a urinal in his — and a large shower with two shower heads and a rain shower head. A shaving sink and mirror are also found in the shower.
The lower level has exercise, card and billiard rooms; a wet bar; and a glass-enclosed wine cellar that can display up to 1,400 bottles. Doors from the lower level lead to the pool deck.
A dining terrace is found on a middle level between the pool area and the outdoor, all-season kitchen with its gas and charcoal grills, a granite bar, a flat-screen television and fireplace. Heaters also keep the space warm in the winter and fans cool it in the summer.
On more than two acres, the 14,000-square-foot home has five bedrooms and 11 bathrooms and is listed at $12.9 million.
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