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Potomac Country House Tour


Villa dei Leoni

Less than 15 minutes west of Potomac Village, Villa dei Leoni presides atop a slope of meticulous lawn in a 10.5 acre park-like setting.  Master Builder Howard Kandel collaborated with owners Donald and Johanna Hoffman in the two and a half year property transformation to an old world estate.   Cream colored stucco replaced the original red brick exterior for a sunny, softer look. Ionic columns with Scamozzi capitals were added, along with a custom carved fountain set in a courtyard of unpolished crema eda marble.  The classic design is enhanced by state-of-the-art security and geothermal energy systems throughout the property.

Enter the light-filled two-story Foyer, and pause to admire the peaceful symmetry. Marble arches over the windows frame a view of the front grounds, while perfect alignment with the living room draws the eye to an enticing view of the back grounds. The bold diagonally cross-hatched marble floor, in black, brown and cream, supports the 1,200 pound Italian table inlaid with marble, seashell, and white pearl. Two Lladro Dragon dogs - female protector to the left, male warrior to the right - guard the entrance, while a colorfully contorted porcelain dragon looks on from the left side hall. To the right, the formal Dining Room shimmers from the crackle glass mirror, Schonbek crystal sconces, walls faux-painted to resemble marble, and the Russian crystal caviar service on the sideboard.

The award-winning Kandel Construction Group Kitchen is grand, featuring custom cherry cabinets by Prevo (Ephrata, PA), an expansive double edge quartzite island, and white oak floors replicating those found in the White House.  Note the clever sliding wall of cabinets, and the lovely and airy Breakfast Room designed by local architect Richard Leggin.  Two full walls of windows offer pool and garden views.  Interior designer Skip Sroka selected the fabric on the chairs, as well as most window treatments throughout the home.  

Stately, jewel-like hues of blue and gold predominate in the Living Room. Furniture by Francesca Molon and Rho Mobili, including a secret-door secretary and inlaid wood sideboard,  hold an array of blue French and clear Russian crystal pieces. Padded silk wall coverings complement the signature silk Persian carpet.  Adjacent to the Living Room are two “his and hers” spaces: the distinctly masculine Library with “faux finish” cherry walls by Malcolm Robson, Swarovski crystal chandeliers designed by Donald, and a Russian crystal vodka serving set;  Johanna's office is feminine but not fussy, with an unusual square rug custom-made to fit the room, cabinet drawers built under bookshelves to minimize clutter, and a whimsical collection of blown glass frog-man figures.

The Lower Level was designed for Redskins fans. Glass trophy cases proudly house their collection of helmets and game balls. Separately displayed is the poignant piece de resistance:  the last jersey worn by late free safety Sean Taylor.  The slate stone floor, wallpaper resembling tufted leather, painted brick walls, a bar with 'Semper Fi' and Navy Goat keg handles, and four 65” TVs lend a pub-like atmosphere.  

Return upstairs to what Johanna Hoffman fondly refers to as the “Doggie Family Room.”   In deference to the owners' pets, the oak flooring with walnut pegs is the only flooring original to the home and window seats replaced full-length windows.  Proceed to the mudroom - a veritable canine spa - with raised dog bath tucked behind mirrored doors, and dog door leading to an enclosed Astro-turf private run.

Walk out to the back grounds, designed by landscape architect H. Paul Davis to include patio, grilling kitchen, terraced gardens, fish pond, pool, and Pool House/ Guest House.  As you stroll down the driveway, be sure to spot the 'folly' and fire pit discreetly tucked into the side yard.  Refinement, innovation, and meticulous attention to detail define this magnificent Mediterranean estate.

Featured in 2015