When Christine Ciccone first laid eyes on this land in McLean, Va., where she would eventually build a Mediterranean-style house, she fell in love with it.
“The lot has got to be one of the top 20 lots in all of McLean,” said Ciccone, who worked at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, helped launch Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and worked in legislative affairs in the George W. Bush White House. “It is incredibly private. But [also] the proximity to both D.C. to McLean center to Tysons, the accessibility is great.”WpGet the full experience.Choose your planArrowRightShareShareView PhotosView PhotosNext Image
Ciccone had been living in Arlington, Va., and wanted to move to McLean for more space. The plan hadn’t been to build a house. But the one that was on the land didn’t fit her needs.
“For me, it was just when you are going to build your dream home, what’s your dream?” she said. “My great-grandparents immigrated from Italy when they were 14 and 16. They had built a house. It was a stucco house on a hill, and that was the house that everybody went to on the weekends for the big Sunday dinner. To me, that meant home.”
Even though Ciccone worked with a local architect to design her 2012 “Mediterranean-Italian house on a hill,” everything about it was her idea. She gave him pictures of how she wanted the house to look. He turned her vision into reality. Their only disagreement was when he suggested 10-foot ceilings and she insisted on 12 feet.
“When I built it, I wanted it to be big but not feel big,” she said. “If you’re in that house — I’m a single person, I lived alone — you don’t feel like you’re in this mansion and you’re lost. … But you can put 200 people in that house with no problem.”
Ciccone was meticulous about all aspects of construction, including putting a steel beam on either side of the house. She wanted the flexibility to change the floor plan without being told that she couldn’t remove a wall because it was load-bearing. She made the house accessible for wheelchairs by widening doorways, adding an elevator and installing no-threshold showers.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisement
But beyond the practical, Ciccone strove to make each part of the house feel special.
“Every room had to have a wow,” she said. “Every room had to have something unique and cool. … I really got into the details. Once you get into it, it becomes like an intellectual exercise.”
Because there are so many of them and because they are such a big part of the house, Ciccone paid particularly attention to the windows, which she sourced from Canada. She wanted Canadian windows for their European-style hardware and because Canada has such cold winters that its windows are made to the highest energy-saving standards.
“For me particularly, when you work a lot, just having that light makes me feel like I’m not working,” she said.
The windows also frame an ever-changing vista, allowing her to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without having to be outside.
Many of the materials she sourced came from Italy to give the home a true Italian feel. She designed the sink in the first-floor powder room and had it fabricated in Italy. She designed the fireplaces and had them crafted out of marble in Italy, except for the great room fireplace, which is made of limestone. That fireplace is so big that the 5-foot-3 Ciccone can stand inside it. The kitchen range is by Ilve, an Italian maker of luxury kitchen appliances.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisement
Although Ciccone selected many of the finishes herself, she was glad she hired interior designer Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey to work with her.
“She was very much a functional person,” Ciccone said. “I think she probably saved me $100,000 in the building [of the house] because she looked at the plans at the beginning.”
Cavin-Winfrey gave her advice on major parts of the project but also the small details. It was Cavin-Winfrey’s idea to create a decorative pattern in the owner’s bathroom floor and shower and to install swing-arm lights in the media room.
Although the property had a swimming pool, Ciccone had to negotiate with Fairfax County to replace it with a larger one. The county wanted to make sure the new pool would not disrupt a watershed that includes a stream that runs through her property.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisement
Because her career has taken her all over the world — including most recently to Rome, where she worked as a special adviser to the United Nations Food Systems Summit, a function of the International Fund for Agricultural Development — Ciccone has rented out the house the past few years. Now she’s decided to part with it.
The five-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 9,300-squre-foot house on 2.2 acres is listed at $8.9 million.
Lot size:2.2 acres
Features:The 2012 Mediterranean-style house has 12-foot ceilings, stained quarter-sawn white oak flooring, spiral stairs in the two-story library, a two-story great room with a limestone fireplace, a wine cellar, an elevator and a screened porch with a fireplace. A breezeway connects the three-car garage to the house. The landscaped grounds have a swimming pool.
Listing agent:Piper Yerks, Washington Fine Properties