Step Inside This Storybook Dream Home in McLean
Sweeping gables, copper-roofed bays and enchanting alcoves put a romantic spin on this modern farmhouse-style residence.
When Frank and Chelsea Fumich went looking for a lot on which to build a custom home, they were hoping for ample yard space for their twin daughters and two dogs. After weeks of Saturday searches, they found it in McLean’s Franklin Park neighborhood and struck a deal to buy it. Then they assembled a handpicked team consisting of Purple Cherry Architects, Brush Arbor Homes and W Design Collective.
Intent on building their forever home, the detail-oriented couple had a well-developed vision. Both love the timeless look of white brick, and Frank had gone so far as to fly to Chicago to check out a French country-style house that caught his eye in a magazine. “I flew there and took a bunch of pictures; that was our inspiration—a white brick house with a cedar shake roof,” says Frank, who owns an airline catering company.
Character would be the main ingredient—beautiful detailing but no overly precious finishes that could cramp the imprint of preteen daughters and large dogs. “I wanted my house to be the house all the kids come to, comfortable and livable,” Chelsea says.
Elegant and inviting, the home has a storybook facade embellished with sweeping cedar-clad gables, multiple dormers and bays, and honey-colored copper accents. Inside, it has a modern farmhouse feel, with plenty of textural details but no heavy millwork.
A central foyer is flanked by a dining room and butler’s pantry on one side and an office on the other. Behind these rooms, the living spaces open through fold-and-stack doors to a porch overlooking the backyard. Tucked behind the attached garage are a stair hall and a mudroom that leads to the back deck.
The stair’s placement didn’t come without deliberation. “For us, there is always a conversation about whether the stair wants to be front and center and almost an architectural feature, or a back stair off to the side,” says architect Cathy Purple Cherry, principal of Purple Cherry Architects based in Annapolis, Maryland. “The dialogue we have is about the transfer of noise when your kids are coming and going with their friends. I’m a big fan of a back stair myself. You get a nice scale to a home when you don’t have a large vertical volume. The ceilings on the first floor are 11 feet, but there are no oversized rooms.”
The architect helped interior designers at W Design Collective, based in Salt Lake City, to proportion the millwork reeding, wood-paneled ceilings, lighting and other details that supply so much character. “Frank loves meaningful things and wants to showcase his life in his home,” says principal Marianne Brown. “Chelsea wanted a cleaner aesthetic to build on over time, so we were kind of marrying the two.”
Alcoves and arches are a recurring theme, starting in the foyer, where a 4-foot-thick arched entryway hides a coat closet. “When you shut the closet door, it looks trimmed out like the rest of the arch,” says builder Jonathan Smith of Brush Arbor Homes in Ashburn. His team also crafted the bookcases flanking the living-room fireplace. Brass handles and rods lock the glass doors in place, their gold color popping against the inky casework.
About that fireplace—its counterpart sits in Brown’s Salt Lake City home. “They kept sending us renderings of marble fireplace mantels that were similar to her fireplace, but nothing looked exactly like it, so we said, ‘Hey, can you have your guy come out and do ours?’ ” Frank says. “He drove through the snow for two days with the marble in his truck, installed it in two days, and then drove home.”
Upstairs, the efficient primary suite contains his-and-hers closets, a laundry room that connects to the hallway, and a tub alcove with a mosaic-tiled barrel ceiling. Down the hall, identically sized girls’ rooms have a window seat and their own bathrooms.
“A lot of people ask for a Jack-and-Jill bath,” Cherry says, “but the difference between two small single baths and a Jack-and-Jill bath, which has two doors and privacy for the toilet and shower, is only about 5 square feet. They seem fantastic when kids are age 6, but it’s awful when they are married and visiting Mom and Dad.”
With its pocket door, a central sitting room on this upper floor is perfect for lounging and sleepovers. And a magical, movable bookcase hides the entrance to the art room—a place for dumping school projects. The house’s lowest level is a walkout basement with a gym, rec room, storage and additional bedroom.
The project had a storybook ending, too. W Design Collective staged a big reveal for the owners, installing every detail down to the bedding and the glasses on the kitchen shelves.
“Sometimes we look at each other and blurt out, ‘Can you believe we’re living here?’ ” Frank says.
Adds Chelsea: “We don’t even want to go anywhere because the house is so great.”
Neighborhood: Franklin Park
Square Footage: 7,700
Architect: Purple Cherry Architects
Interior Designer: W Design Collective
Builder: Brush Arbor Homes
Cheryl Weber is a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based architectural journalist and book editor who lived in Washington, D.C., for many years. She is the co-author of Concrete Houses: Form, Line, and Plane.