Does the dream — the one in which high school sweethearts get married and live happily ever after — ever come true? It did for Lisa and Jerry Mallen.
Lisa and Jerry first met after Jerry’s family moved from Wisconsin to Fairfax during his senior year of high school.
Lisa was an old hand at meeting new classmates. As a daughter of a U.S. Military Academy graduate and an Army officer, this self-described “Army brat” had lived in nine states and two foreign countries by the time she and Jerry met.
The couple stuck together through college on different campuses and married after graduation — Jerry from American University in Washington, D.C., and Lisa from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They had three children: a son and two daughters. It all became part of the happily-ever-after dream with the family living in cities where Jerry’s job (he spent 30 years with the Blue Cross Blue Shield system) dictated.
One day in 1987, Jerry spread out a U.S. map. “Did you know there’s a big lake in southwestern Virginia?” he asked Lisa. “I think we should take a look at it. I might want to retire there.”
Lisa thought he was crazy to be considering retirement. At that time they had three young children and future college expenses to think about. Retirement was too far away.
In the 1990s the family rented houses for getaways at the lake, often inviting extended family members to join them. Although retirement was still years away, the Mallens bought a lot in Park Place in 2003. Ten years later, the couple bought a second lot adjacent to the first one. They hired architect Craig Balzer and builder Jeff Sowder, who broke ground in 2015. In March 2017, Jerry retired, and the couple moved into their newly built home five months later.
They enlisted the help of decorator Pat Cundiff of P.A.C. Interiors for selecting the flooring, paint colors, cabinetry, light fixtures and some art for what Cundiff called the home’s “American soft contemporary” style.
In the entryway, the marble porcelain tile flooring matches nearby columns that are faux painted to match. The living room has a black coffered, 12-foot ceiling with white accents. It’s open to the dining room, which features a tray ceiling, a crystal chandelier and faux painting on the walls to match the design on the chairs.
A nearby wall niche displays a blue Murano glass vase from the homeowners’ trip to Italy. The black, white and gray in these areas also feature touches of blue.
The kitchen, outfitted with cherry cabinets, has a large island with a gas cooktop, and a sink area with a tiled scene of the Amalfi coast and red oak hardwood floors that lead into the keeping room — a relaxing area with a fireplace. A painting shows the spectacular view of Lake Michigan they had from their former 37th floor Chicago condo. Outside on the deck with glass railings is an eating area where Smith Mountain and the lake are front and center.
The master suite, conveniently located on the main floor, has oversized windows with the same beautiful view. There’s also a walk-in closet and a master bath with a crystal chandelier, a tray ceiling, quartz countertops with double vanities, as well as a tub and a shower.
Jerry’s office features custom-built cherry cabinets while Lisa’s office doubles as a guest bedroom that includes a full handicap-accessible bathroom. Lisa has authored three children’s books and has a collection of children’s books on display. Lisa, formerly the manager of musician Phil Guy, brother of blues legend Buddy Guy, also has memorabilia from artists displayed here.
A bonus room above the garage features the painting, “The Long Gray Line,” to commemorate Lisa’s father’s days at West Point. There’s also a painting of the USS Enterprise, on which Jerry’s father survived an attack during World War II. Accompanying it is a news article explaining the event depicted in the painting.
On the home’s lake level, wide-planked engineered hardwood flooring is in the family room that features a leather sofa, a two-way fireplace and a TV area. A bar topped by soapstone countertops, and surrounded by seven stools, is lit by mood lighting in the tray ceiling. Over the bar is a fish tank.
This level has two guest bedrooms — one with a Green Bay Packers theme and a “sunrise bedroom” with a coral bedspread featuring the colors of the majestic sunrises that can be seen from this room.
The Mallens decided to give back to the community by opening their home as one of eight that are featured on this year’s Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour from Oct. 11 through 13.
“Before we lived here, but when we rented houses in October, we would go on the home tour, and we always enjoyed it,” Lisa said.
“It’s such an inspired way to provide funding for so many local charities,” added Jerry.