Home Number 1
A home with Georgian grandeur, a fairy tale log cabin, a gorgeous landscape, and amazing entertaining spaces inside and outdoors—this is the Braun home.
When Richard and Jane Elizabeth Braun purchased this impressive property in 2003, it came with a two story log cabin which has stood here since the days of our founding fathers, and in fact was used by Lawrence Washington, George’s half-brother. Now used as a guesthouse, it perfectly recalls that bygone era with antique furnishings, a stone fireplace, a simple Amish log bed tucked under the eaves, and a charming cottage garden outside. It has been used by friends, family and newly married couples for their wedding night!
The main house is a stately Georgian brick style. The Brauns redesigned their expansive country kitchen choosing finishes that glow with a worn and rustic patina. Hewn posts and beams reclaimed from old barns, Civil War era brick, hammered copper sinks and terra cotta floors all recall the property’s historic past. Adding character and visual interest are four types of cabinetry: distressed cherry, reclaimed barnwood, golden painted beadboard, and knotty butternut with leaded glass doors. Countertops are variously distressed concrete, honed granite and polished granite.
The floors throughout the house are reclaimed random plank heart pine. The soaring family room features a massive stone fireplace (one of seven in the house). The Brauns collection of art and antiquities is evident throughout their home. In the family room, there is a large carved antique Spanish chest, and an exquisite 17th century carved icon from a church in Spain hangs above the fireplace.
The dining room is lit by a 200-year-old French chandelier and features a very attractive French country sideboard and cupboard, and a silver service which belonged to Richard’s grandfather. Here too is the oldest and most unusual antique in the home, a late 15th to early 16th century French vestment table. It would have been found in a private home, where its sliding cover concealed liturgical vestments and communion vessels from disapproving authorities.
Over the last few years the Brauns have completed a very large multistory addition. The charming “vestibule” is an intimate dining space under a dome, overlooking naturalistic waterfalls tumbling over rocks, under bridges and into koi ponds. In the new first floor master suite, all of the furniture is constructed of rare West Virginia wild black cherry, a sentimental nod to Jane Elizabeth’s childhood home. Her bath is a study in femininity, while Richard, an alumnus of the University of Southern California, has a mosaic of the “Trojan” inset into his shower. Richard’s study features a painting of African lions by Dino Paravano. The Brauns love his “chalk paintings” of African wildlife, so meticulously rendered they appear to be photographs. Look for these masterpieces throughout the house.
The lower level is an ideal hangout for the family with teenage sons, and for entertaining. There is a massive bar, pool table, double L shaped sofas, a game room, a fitness area, and a comfortable theater room where a crowd of friends can enjoy a movie or the big game.
The second level bedrooms feature adjoining studies for each of their sons and a wonderful screened porch connecting the boys’ bedrooms, and looking over the well-used pool, tennis and basketball courts.
As you wander through the idyllic landscape down to the pool, don’t miss the pool house with its great pirate painting and lots of mermaid renditions along with the mermaid fountain by the pool. This area really evokes the Brauns’ sense of fun and friendship. They have an annual “Pirates and Mermaids” party, where their guests come decked out in full regalia. What fun it must be to be a friend of the Brauns!
Home Number 2
This large brick home with imposing pillars set atop a hundred rolling wooded acres was built by the Joseph J. Mathy family in 1964. The “Mathy House” won a major architectural award for individual home construction the following year. It was designed to be occupied by Mrs. Sally Mathy, her son John, her sister, and her niece. Mrs. Mathy was fond of European chandeliers and used them lavishly throughout. Because members of the household enjoyed cooking, the kitchen was designed to allow them to work together with two sinks and ample prep space.
The property and many of its furnishings were sold to George Mason University (GMU) in 1983 as a home for the university President. In subsequent years, the Mathys donated more land and buildings, enlarging the estate. The first President to live here was Dr. George Johnson and his wife Joanne. Since 2012, the current residents have been GMU President Dr. Angel Cabrera and his wife Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Cabrera. They met while pursuing PhDs at Georgia Tech, married, and have spent years in academia, including a ten-year stint in Spain, Dr. Cabrera’s native country. Now, while Angel serves as President, Beth is a “Senior Scholar” at GMU’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. She has just published her first book, Beyond Happy: Women, Work and Well-Being, which has garnered the maximum 5 stars on Amazon!
As you enter the gracious foyer, note the gorgeous staircase and the Mathy monogram over the door in front of you. You will also see a small bronze statue of George Mason, created as a prototype to be carried from place to place to show prospective donors during the fundraising drive to erect the life-size statue in the center of the GMU campus. The only difference is that the sculptor corrected the girth -- making George fatter -- in the finished work.
Traveling from room to room, you can see how appropriate the grand spaces are for entertaining large parties. Thanks to the original owners’ love of cooking, the kitchen is ample for catering such events. The Queen Anne banquet table in the dining room can seat 20, or it can be broken down so the Cabreras can enjoy family dinners. The spacious living room is especially beautiful with its Waterford chandeliers, a lighted cabinet displaying a collection of Lalique crystal donated by the Mathys, a Chinese Chippendale tall case clock, and the Steinway grand piano. GMU is proud of the fact that it is an “All Steinway school;” the piano was purchased by President and Mrs. Alan Merten, predecessors to the Cabreras, and donated to the Mathy House. Made from a large and rare West African timber, highly valued for use in the finest woodwork, it is a classic Steinway Kewazinga Bubinga!
Home Number 3
Beth Giorgiani is a lifetime quilter and collector of antiques and Americana. Every room in the handsome brick Colonial that Bob and Beth built in 2000 is a delight to anyone who has enjoyed the “hunt” for treasures from the past. There are charming pie safes, wash stands, bakers’ tables, dough boxes and bowls, massive iron kettles, antique chests, old animal troughs, and toolboxes. Apparently, the lure of the hunt goes back a few generations. Bob’s mother passed on needlepoint- covered stools stuffed with horsehair, and an old dental cabinet, once used by the University of Pennsylvania dental school. The cross-stitches were fashioned by his great-great grandmother when she was a girl. Look for her picture in the family room by her work. Beth’s grandmother’s kitchen table and chairs are in the lower level, cherished reminders of time spent with her. Beth has a knack for repurposing. The antique toolboxes make perfect jewelry boxes, and the dental cabinet provides storage in the dining room.
Almost all of the many beautiful quilts that you see have been stitched by Beth. Exceptions include a sweet one created by their daughter when she was 10 (in the Sun Room), and a very unusual one made entirely of equestrian ribbons.
Beth, who took up horseback riding in her 30’s, has become an accomplished competitive rider. She keeps a horse in Clifton. You can see many saddles in the downstairs rec room for different sized horses and riding styles. Scenes on some of Beth’s furniture were painted by a fellow horse-lover, a young woman who was trying to earn money for her own horse.
Six years ago, the Giorgianis renovated their kitchen and built an addition to it. The result is a gorgeous kitchen with hand-scraped floors, beautiful English cabinetry, a massive granite island with a hammered nickel sink, and a farmhouse sink under the window overlooking their parklike backyard. On the walls, try to spot the hand-painted cardinal, turtle, and the almost hidden bluebird! Adjoining the kitchen is the new addition -- a cozy sitting area where two wing chairs face a stone fireplace -- perfectly completing this home where the past and present meld to make a warm family home with a sense of history.
Home Number 4
Taste and Talent: A person of good taste will create a beautiful home, while a person of talent will create an interesting one. Amy and Jon Waldrop happily combine both to result in a wonderfully appealing home.
Taste: Amy and Jon customized their Balmoral home with fine architectural details, which are especially evident in the foyer with its columns, wainscoting, and impressive staircase. Here, the floors are Brazilian cherry with a chevron design banded by black walnut. Sunshine pours in through large windows in the morning room and bright white kitchen with natural stone travertine floors and into the soaring family room. Adjacent to the family room is Amy’s office, with a soft cream color on the walls, complemented by silk drapes, silk crewel upholstery, and a large needlepoint rug.
In contrast, Jon’s adjoining study is quintessentially masculine. Wine red walls serve as a backdrop to mementos of an Air Force flying career and a second career with Lockheed Martin. The furniture throughout is scaled to the home, featuring high quality pieces such as the handmade Chippendale-inspired walnut breakfront in the family room and the hand planed walnut dining room table.
Talent: This home is enriched immeasurably by Amy’s talent as a self-taught artist — painter, sculptor, photographer, interior designer, and landscape architect. You will walk down a brick path, entering the house from the rear by design to enjoy the full impact of the yard and patio with flowering trees, pots, garden beds, roses, and charming window boxes. Imagine the comfort of a summer’s evening in front of the outdoor fireplace as the rich wood smoke mixes with the floral scented air. Amy designed this charming space.
Inside the house, every room is made more enchanting by Amy’s artwork, often inspired by her travels, and by her photographs of foreign scenes and intimate family moments. The entire lower level offers a fascinating look into a working artist’s studio. Brick walls and slate floors add to the artistic ambiance of this impressive open space, filled with easels, paints, and brushes set on large tables, where Amy and her students can create the fine art that adds heart to any home.