“Grand and comfortable.” This was John and Diana’s guiding vision in designing their gracious brick Colonial that bears resemblance to the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.
“We wanted a house that was not a replica of the Governor’s Palace, but that made people say ‘Hey, this looks a little like it,’” said John, the CEO of a federal government contractor. “We wanted it to be one of the neighborhood’s showcases, but we also wanted a place where people would feel comfortable, where they could put their feet up and relax. I feel we accomplished that.”
The 6,500 square foot home was built in 2006 by Hallmark Builders. “We went with Hallmark because of the quality of their homes,” John said. “Their homes are very sturdy and we like the creativity of the owner.”
The couple chose to build their home in the country club community of Ford’s Colony because it offered multiple golf courses. “Diana and I play golf several times a week,” said John. “We knew we would get bored if we played the same course so often.” Ford’s Colony includes three Dan Maples championship golf courses; the couple chose to build their home on the 15th hole of the Blue Heron course.
Maximizing views of the golf course was a primary goal in placing the home on the nearly half-acre lot. Several of the rooms, including the great room, kitchen, keeping room, master bedroom and study, have outstanding golf course views.
The overall size of the house was influenced by one of John’s must-haves: oversized garage doors to easily get his cars in and out of the home’s two garages. “In some ways, our design size all started with the 10-foot wide garage doors,” said John. “With wider doors, we had a wider base for the house.”
That extra footage was perfect for meeting another of the couple’s requirements, extra large guest bedrooms to accommodate their many guests. Three spacious guest bedrooms with en suite bathrooms are on the second floor; the master bedroom, which includes a sitting area and tray ceiling, is on the main level.
John and Diane are movie-lovers, so a fully equipped movie room was included on the second level, above the two-car garage. The room includes a 60” x 90” movie screen and seven theatre-style reclining seats with ButtKicker simulation technology. The movie room, which is John’s favorite space in the house, includes a wet bar, a beverage center, and a dinette for two. A spiral staircase leads from the movie room to the kitchen.
The second level also includes a game room with a pinball machine, diner-like eating area, and custom built-in twin beds so the couple’s grandchildren could have sleep-overs. “The room was created primarily for our grandchildren,” John noted.
On the main level is a formal living room, a two-story great room, and a large kitchen designed for a true cook. “The kitchen has plenty of space to put everything where you need it,” said John. “Three or four people can work in there without bumping. It’s great for entertaining.”
The kitchen has a breakfast bar, space for a dining table, and a “keeping room” nook area (with fireplace) that overlooks the back yard and the golf course. “It feels so comfortable and cozy when it’s just the two of us,” said Diana of her favorite spot in the house.
Conveniently located off the kitchen is another home essential, a wine room. John and Diana are wine enthusiasts— with a penchant for French wines— so they included a climate-controlled wine room with custom racks to hold 880 bottles. “We never had more than 450 bottles of wine there because we kept drinking it!” John joked. The room features a Tiffany lamp and Italian hand paintings of grapes and vines on the double-paned glass of the room’s window and door.
The first floor includes a cherry-paneled study with shelving and a custom, built-in desk large enough that John and Diana can work on opposite sides of the desk at the same time. There is also a main floor music room that houses Diana’s baby grand piano. “There are great acoustics because of the hardwood floors,” said Diana, who is a former NIH grants policy officer. “When I play, the music reverberates through the rest of the house.” Floors on the first level and in the upper hallway/movie room are Brazilian cherry.
Ceilings on the first floor are 10 feet high, and all of the main doors on that level, including the entry door, are 9 feet. “It looks very grand, very impressive,” John said. “And, the doors have period brass fixtures that feel substantial in your hand.”
The couple included extensive, detailed molding throughout the home. The dining room has wainscoting and 10-piece crown molding. The coffered ceiling in the kitchen has 6-piece moldings, and most of the other rooms have crown molding with at least 4 pieces. “The moldings are not pretentious, they’re just really nice,” said John. “The finish work in this house is just fantastic.”
Another unusual feature is the extensive use of different types of granite. Diana’s favorite is the Black Marinace granite used both in the kitchen and as a surround for the study’s fireplace. “It looks like sliced river rock,” she said.
The couple created a backyard oasis with a deck, a hot tub and an outdoor kitchen with gas grill, refrigerator and sink. A pond-less waterfall feature provides the sound of falling water that John enjoys.
The back yard also has a natural gas built-in fire pit. “No wood is required, but sometimes I’ll put a few sticks on it to get the snap and crackle sound,” said John.
The Ford’s Colony gated community offers numerous amenities, including playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools, and 200+ acres of natural preserve with 12 miles of paved walking/biking trails. The Country Club’s dining room has garnered AAA Five Diamond awards.
But the couple likes the neighborhood activities even more than the amenities. They were members of the Wine Enthusiasts Club, once hosting a wine party for about 80 people, and participated in the Dance Club. “Ford’s Colony is phenomenal in the way it embraces residents, and it’s easy to make friends here,” said Diana, noting that the monthly newsletter includes pages of activities that range from bowling and fishing to bird watching and theatre. “If you can’t find something interesting here, you’re just not living,” Diana said.
Yet it’s at home that the couple seems most happy. “We just love to be outside, to sit on the deck and watch nature take its course,” said John. “We might put 10 chairs around the fire pit, have a few bottles of wine, invite some friends and talk around the campfire. We’ve had some really great evenings sitting round that fire pit.”
John and Diana, who have a primary home in the Washington, D.C. area, built their Ford’s Colony home as a second residence, with a plan to retire there. For the first few years, they were able to spend significant time in Ford’s Colony. However, more recently John’s retirement plans changed, and for the past couple years they have spent less than 20 days a year there.
“Since we aren’t able to use it much, even though we love it and long to go down, we’re selling the home,” John said.
Why did they choose John Womeldorf, (Mr. Williamsburg) and Lisa Gasper, to help them with the sale? “Their marketing strategy and TEAM work matched what we were looking for,” said Diana. “And the company had impressive credentials.”
Diana said that she will miss her Ford’s Colony home. “Some of my favorite times were in the fall, sitting by the fire pit, looking onto the golf course with a glass of wine and chatting into the dark.”
Why the stories? Because these aren’t just houses, they’re homes.
Psssst! I wanted to let you in on a little secret. While I am a real estate agent…I am a different kind of real estate agent. I am creating a revolution in realty by combining everything you love about this area all into one place. Known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, I combine my extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg, Richmond, and Hampton Roads areas with my expertise in helping buyers and sellers navigate the ever-changing local real estate market to create a top-notch experience that checks all of your boxes.
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