Amy and Gary Perlin raised their two boys in a typical Georgian house in the Dominion Valley Hunt community of Fairfax Station, Va. Having lived in the home since 1986, the Perlins decided it needed a refresh after the younger son moved out in 2004.
What the Perlins had in mind was more than new paint and flooring. With the help of Monarc Construction and Elegant Designs, they built a neoclassical house from the remnants of their old one and turned the interior into an Art Deco treasure. The house, which took three years to build, won the Excellence in Construction award from the Metropolitan Washington and Virginia chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors in 2008.
“This was the house that, at that point, my husband really dreamed of, so we built it,” Amy said. “We always traveled because of Gary’s work, and we discovered Art Deco pochoir, which are these hand-colored magazine pictures. We started to purchase them as collectors. . . . We fell in love with really beautiful vintage Art Deco and started to collect a variety of things. So when we thought about building the house we really wanted to showcase our art.”
The Perlins collection was the main influence in the design of the house, but it wasn’t the only one. Some of the ideas came from Britain’s Eltham Palace, a medieval palace that became a Tudor royal residence before being transformed into an Art Deco mansion. The mahogany two-story library has echoes of the British Museum Reading Room. A trip to Olveston House in New Zealand inspired the dining room layout. The circular shape of the back of the house is a nod to Monticello.
“We have a traditional Virginia parlor when you walk in,” Amy said. “It really evoked Virginia because we are fairly devoted Virginians. . . . I wanted to make sure [the house] felt intimate and comfortable so that people would want to come and stay and feel that it was a home. But we also love entertaining. It’s comfortable for the two of us, and I’m comfortable when we have 200 people.”
The Art Deco design on the floor of the two-story entry sets the tone for the house. The marble was cut by laser in Florida and then installed in nine pieces on site. The mural on the ceiling was painted by artist Paul Bertholet, who also painted the wall murals and the domed ceiling in the library.
The horseshoe-shaped house has public rooms – living room, parlor, dining room and kitchen — strung across the front and private quarters radiating like spokes from the courtyard at the center. The half-circle corridor at the back of the house is a favorite of the Perlins’ six grandchildren. Amy said they love running in it.
Aside from the family rooms in the original house’s basement and the three guest bedrooms on the upper floor, this house was designed for one-level living. It also was designed to be low maintenance, with materials such as stucco, concrete and limestone. And it was designed with the environment in mind. The gutter-and-downspout system feeds a 2,000-gallon underground cistern that provides all the water needed for landscaping. The circular corridor has vegetation on its roof. The lighting systems are low-voltage, and recycled materials were used to make the floors in the kitchen.
“This house is really magical,” Amy said. “It is very peaceful. It has lovely energy. … Everybody says they’ve never seen a house like it. That makes me really happy. I like one of a kind. I love it’s a one-of-a-kind house.”
The four-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 15,200-square-foot house, on five wooded acres, is listed at $4.1 million.
Listing agents: Sylvia Bergstrom and Marin Hagen, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
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