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The house, which he calls “Hut in the Woods,” was built in 1963 but has been expanded over the years. The gable roofs give it a fairytale look.
Five years after purchasing the property, Leo and his wife Debbie undertook a renovation of the house and gardens. They hired McHale Landscape Design for the exterior and Akseizer Design Group for the interior.
“The beauty of it is when you have great people to work with,” Debbie said.
Much of the exterior renovation involved stripping and freshening up. Azaleas wrapped around the pool and concealed it. Large oaks and poplars lined the property and obscured the view of the house.
“You couldn’t really see the character of the house because there were so many trees in front of it,” Leo said.
Ten large trees have been removed. The azaleas and other plants were transplanted to other parts of the garden. The English gardens were laid out in a more formal arrangement. Debbie said only about 40 to 45 percent of the plants are new.
The biggest challenge was “trying to blend the old with the new,” Anthony Cusat, senior landscape architect at McHale and leader of the renovation, told Home & Design magazine. McHale received an award from the Landscape Contractors Association of Maryland, DC and Virginia for the 2019 project.
With plants that bloom at different times, the Brookses have an ever-changing landscape as well as a secluded oasis.
“It’s very private,” Debbie said. “Wherever we could see an adjacent roof, we added another tree.”
McHale also installed a fireplace in a gazebo on the site, built a large courtyard with fountain on the side of the house, and created what Leo calls his “man cave” – an outdoor kitchen with a grill, refrigerator, television and high-top seating.
Akseizer Design Group helped renovate the owner’s kitchen and suite. The owner’s bedroom has a fireplace and a 15-foot vaulted ceiling with wood trusses. Double glass doors open to a covered patio with automatic screens. The bathroom is designed in what Debbie calls ‘British formal’. It has underfloor heating, double vanity, separate shower and bath, fireplace and TV. Large dressing areas have built in shelving and closets.
The 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom home on just under an acre is listed at $3.5 million.
858 Canal Dr., McLean, Virginia.
- Bedroom bathroom: 4/4
- Approximate square footage: 5,000
- batch size: 0.92 hectares
- features: The 1963 house has been expanded over the years. The current owners renovated the exterior and interior and hired McHale Landscape Design and Akseizer Design Group. The grounds include English gardens, a courtyard, a heated swimming pool and spa, an outdoor kitchen and a gazebo with a fireplace. The two-story house has four fireplaces. The three car garage is attached.
- listing agent: W. Ted Gossett and Joe Kotula, Washington Fine Properties