A 5-acre property in Great Falls serves as the perfect backdrop for a new home with interiors by Martha Vicas and landscaping by Joseph Richardson.
A walnut, leather and fabric wall offers symmetry in the primary suite, which also features bedding from Sferra.
A new 8,000-square-foot home in Great Falls, built for a couple with 6-year-old twins, needed to be grounded in exceptional interior furnishings that provide well-rounded beauty and functionality. The couple also desired extensive landscaping design, including a greenhouse.
Marble Systems countertops and Lobkovich cabinets grace the chef’s kitchen.
The couple selected Martha Vicas, principal at M.S. Vicas Interiors (msvicasinteriors.com), for the home’s overall look. “We spend a great deal of time learning about the functional needs and desires for a home before we dive into the design,” says Vicas, who notes her style can be considered warm contemporary. “Sometimes clients have a clear vision of their aesthetic, and sometimes we need to help them develop it. Once we have a direction, we get to work.”
Designer Martha Vicas created two distinct seating areas in the living room, with standout pieces like a Dmitriy & Co chaise and Holly Hunt side tables.
Vicas notes that, above all, the couple wanted to create a comfortable, beautiful home to raise their children. “They were willing to take a leap of faith and do some very creative things to achieve their goals,” she says. “There were some rooms that they wanted to feel relaxing and other rooms to feel more energetic.”
THE DESIGN CHALLENGES
Massive scale is usually a challenge for any designer, given that the goal is to design rooms that are inviting and warm—not cavernous and museum-like. So, one of the biggest challenges for Vicas and her team was the 25-foot-by-25-foot wall in the great room. “The assumption had been that there would be built-in bookcases in the space,” says Vicas. “But the clients didn’t want the burden of accessorizing and dusting shelves.” So, the couple asked Vicas for another, more viable solution.
“With that expansive space, we needed to find materials that would provide enough interest through a variety of textures,” she says. “We needed stone around the very large and powerful fireplace to comply with code. That slab served as the inspiration for all of the other materials, including leather and suede panels, bench cushions and stained oak slats. We love the result, and it provided a bit of extra seating and storage.”
THE LANDSCAPING DETAILS
For the exterior and grounds, Richardson says the first phase of this forward-thinking project incorporated a new driveway lined with mature pear trees, horse paddocks, an organic garden and greenhouse, a river birch grove, open lawns, gardens and meadows.
Richardson’s team also used gorgeous exterior stonework throughout the grounds, something he says symbolizes permanence, investment and longevity. Plantings in the front of the house—juniper, catmint and Pennisetum—are simple and robust enough to withstand harsh weather conditions and a particular critter that wanders the wooded expanse of the area: deer.
At the front of the house, Richard planted hydrangeas, where oversize stone piers and dish planters reinforce the massive scale of the architecture. Terraced planting beds and a sunken garden—holding perennials like amsonia hubrichtii (Hubricht’s bluestar) and athyrium flourish—sit at the rear of the home. The rear garden also features a courtyard and a custom-built, stainless steel armillary by British sculptor David Farber.
The family loves the custom greenhouse by Alitex (alitex-greenhouses.com), which will allow them to grow year-round organic fruits and vegetables. The structure, which is a replica of a Victorian-era glass house, features cold frames, louvered heat controls and infrared lamps.
THE LIVING AND DINING ROOMS
Despite the high ceiling, the living room is long and slightly narrow. So, Vicas created two distinct seating areas, one with a sectional in front of the TV for lounging and another for conversation. Standout pieces include a Dmitriy & Co (dmitriyco.com) chaise, Anees Upholstery (aneesupholstery.com) chairs, Holly Hunt (hollyhunt.com) side tables and Sahco (kvadrat.dk) drapery.
Vicas notes that the dining area sits between the kitchen and the living room, so she didn’t want it to feel like an afterthought—she wanted something dramatic. “We suggested that it be darker and moodier than the adjacent rooms,” says Vicas. “We used a tan, metallic cork paper on the walls from Romo (romo.com) and had the ceiling faux painted navy. The dining room has a custom table from Harris Rubin (harrisrubin.com) in Baltimore. The clients wanted to be able to entertain 16 people, and we suggested that they use two square tables that could be separated to accommodate seating on all four sides when needed.” Two other stars of the room are a chandelier from Bocci (bocci.com) and a custom rug from Julie Dasher (juliedasherrugs.com).
A built-in bar, surrounded by plenty of storage, is perfect for entertaining guests.
“We spend a great deal of time with our clients planning every single drawer and cabinet in the kitchen. It’s tedious, but it pays off for years to come. This kitchen was no exception,” says Vicas, who used Top Knobs (topknobs.com) hardware, Lobkovich (lobkovich.com) cabinets, Marble Systems (marblesystems.com) countertops, and Wolf (subzerowolf.com) stove and cooktop.
The designer notes the homeowners also wanted a place for their kids to eat and do homework that was connected to the island. So, her team used a different material and designed a walnut counter-height table. “The hood was the result of an idea-generation session with Lobkovich,” says Vicas. “We were all sitting around a table talking about the fireplace wall design, and we thought it would be interesting to produce a hood that gave a nod to the opposite wall. The one-of-a-kind hood is enhanced with a sealer that emphasizes the origami-like folds.”
Landscape designer Joseph Richardson used lots of stonework throughout the grounds.
THE PRIMARY SUITE
The room is slightly asymmetrical, so Vicas and her team couldn’t center the bed on the wall. The solution? “We created a walnut, leather and fabric wall with a trim detail that mirrored the door to the bathroom. It created visual symmetry that made sense,” says Vicas. Bedding from Sferra (sferra.com), a rug from Julie Dasher and a chaise from Anees round out this calming retreat. The bath features Architessa (architessa.com) floor tile and wallcovering, a Kohler (us.kohler.com) tub and The Urban Electric Co. (urbanelectric.com) sconces.
Landscaping around the home’s front exterior includes a mix of natural elements and indigenous plantings, making for a balanced, inviting look.
HOW THE HOME IS LIVING
Both Vicas and Richardson report that the home has become everything their clients wanted—a sanctuary for their family amid lush landscaping and room to grow. “The home is living well,” says Vicas, who mentions that her team was asked to return for one minor adjustment: adding decorative acoustic panels to the indoor pool. It seems the kids and their friends are having so much noisy fun in this watery heaven that it can be a little loud when parents are hanging out. Of course, it’s all a consequence of building joy into a home.
James McDonald Architects
M.S. Vicas Interiors
Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture
DMITRIY & CO
Living room chaise
Living room chairs; primary suite chaise
Living room drapery
Dining room table
Dining room chandelier
Dining room and primary suite rug
Kitchen stove and cooktop
Kitchen cabinetry and hood
Primary suite bedding
Primary suite bath floor tile and wallcovering
Primary suite bath tub
THE URBAN ELECTRIC CO.
Primary suite bath sconces