The atrium is interrupted by something Jefferson didn’t have: an elevator, housed in what looks like a structure made of stacked French doors. (Jefferson, that inveterate tinkerer, would no doubt have been suitably impressed. His home at Monticello is famous for the dumbwaiter he fashioned to bring up wine from his cellar.) Curling around the opposite wall of the atrium is a staircase that leads to the bedroom level.
But the elevator also goes down to a walk-out basement that’s every bit as bright as the main level (it gets a little halogen help). The ceiling is nine feet tall. The idea, Cooper says, was for the space, a family room, to have “as nice a quality down here as it does upstairs.”
Which leads you to Cooper’s weakness for murals. Painted on the wall behind the family room sofa is essentially the same garden view you will get from this spot upstairs. On another wall is yet another garden view.
The conceit is not a shock, though, because in the living room, you will have already seen Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” splashed on the wall behind the sofa. Renoir’s models in the lively dining scene have been replaced with the faces of Cooper’s children and their spouses. In the atrium, guests stepping out of the elevator are greeted by another Renoir: the instantly recognizable dancing couple in “Dancing at Bougival.” Both were painted by muralist Thomas Mullany of Washington, Va.
More-conventional works hang on the walls upstairs in a kind of gallery created by the mezzanine that winds around the atrium. These were done by watercolorist Linda Griffin, a Washington area native living in North Carolina.
It was while walking around the gallery the day she moved in, after 30 years of waiting and 11
2 years of construction, that Cooper had a sense of belonging wash over her. “I’m home,” she thought.
But that’s not the end of the story. After June visits from various children and her hen party, July will bring a new beginning to the McLean octagon house. In the terraced rear garden, Cooper will marry Tony Jordano, 75, an engineer formerly at IBM and still engaged in systems engineering for government contractors. The octagon house has already embraced Jordano, his four children and seven grandchildren.
Cooper and Jordano met online. No doubt the ever-inventive Jefferson would have approved of that, too.