Roya Gharavi had many advantages when designing her Blacksburg house. She and husband Floyd Merryman both embraced a mountain contemporary design which utilizes natural materials and capitalizes on large windows and beautiful views.
“It made it easy that we like the same style of house,” she relates, “and I am grateful that my husband trusted me to pick everything for it.” Additionally, her father was a successful architect, so she understood the construction process and importance of efficiency and overseeing myriad project details at the same time.
“When he wants to tease me, Floyd calls it the Persian Palace,” Roya smiles, for her Iranian heritage and the home’s large interior. The home imbues a coziness one can connect directly to materials, furnishings and fine linens. A stone fireplace evokes hearth and home like nothing can, and here, the couple has five stone fireplaces. Wood, iron, stone and tile throughout, paired with glass and abundant natural daylight, generate an inviting atmosphere everywhere. Except perhaps the workout rooms, which involve, well, working out.
The wrought iron and wood grand staircase is one of Roya’s masterpieces. “I sketched the stairs and turned it over to Construction Services LLC in Christiansburg to fabricate,” she explains. It took longer than expected for Dean Franz and his team to make, so the house build ended at 20 months. “You can’t rush on the details,” she explains. “The railing is a continuation of the timber from the front door into the living room.”
The first floor, which is also the lower level, since one enters the front door on the 2nd floor, is perfect for entertaining. There’s a spacious full bar, theatre with 12 leather reclining seats, TV screens and sports themes with Virginia Tech dominant in art, colors and décor. This flows outside to an expansive stone patio and outdoor kitchen. The 3-car garage is level with this floor, and the entry includes handsome wood lockers and space to change clothes, leave boots, etc. A custom full kitchen is part of the garage, and it’s all immaculate. When entertaining, caterers have full use of this kitchen and easy access to the sports entertainment hub of the home.
Each of five bedrooms is a luxury suite with custom-tiled and glass private bathrooms, walk-in closets and exquisite linens. Typical of Roya’s acute attention to detail is her choice for bed pillows. Each of the four large ones has been carefully selected for different kinds of comfort plus a smaller square one and a neck roll.
Floyd’s office is walnut paneled floor to ceiling with custom millwork on all walls and the coffered ceiling. Roya’s offices are on the 3rd floor, and she considers the kitchen to be “my Gourmet Pantry at home where I have to test everything I sell in the store including food items.” Since the home is predominantly neutral throughout, Roya made a splash in the laundry room with different color cupboard doors and whimsical laundry-related cabinet knobs. The mirror over the main fireplace is a television. A coffee and tea bar in the butler’s pantry has built-in refrigerator drawers for creamers and mixers.
Many art pieces and some light fixtures were crafted by local artisans, and the couple engaged with New River Valley companies as much as possible. A shout out goes to Architect Sarah Lee, builder Lucas Construction, Audiotronics, Streamline Timberframe, Crenshaw Lighting, Ewing Cabinets, Phoenix Hardwood and several local subcontractors.
Decorating begins the day after Thanksgiving and involves the Gourmet Pantry staff assisting with moving the large Christmas trees to their places. Then, Roya’s decorating buddy, Blake Jones, steps in. “Blake started helping me 4 years ago,” Roya relates, “when I sent him up a ladder with decorations for a 12-foot tree. He knows what I like and gets all the others decorated as well.”
Creative, colorful, holiday décor is found in every room and bathroom. Some of it evokes a chuckle and other ornamentation strikes a sense of awe. The tallest Christmas trees include themes of peacocks, ornaments from travels, theatre, Virginia Tech and Ms. Chanel, as in Coco of perfume fame, in a guest room.
The Christmas décor runs from sophisticated and dramatic to whimsical, cute and adorable. Roya designs and handcrafts stunning centerpieces and designed and made the Christmas bears who playfully chaperone the front entry.
The entire 5-acre property and home epitomize luxury and elegance, yet it is all tempered with a natural beauty and earth tones crafted for modern living. The house offers a serene sanctuary for two corporate executives who enjoy the open space, beautiful views, big windows and convenient location. And one another.
Roya Gharavi came to the New River Valley in 1989 and opened Gourmet Pantry nine years later. “When we moved to our current space, I started the cooking school. I’ve always had a passion for creating things, with food or otherwise.” Her first cookbook was published in 2014, and after finishing her master’s degree in interior design, she launched Roya’s Design Group. She lives, breathes, works, decorates and entertains with sense of class and style evident in her shop, her home, her businesses and her warm, winsome personality.
We use every space in the house, even with just two of us living here. It is designed for function, use and practical livability, as well as hosting and entertaining. I put many thoughts into aging in place, including an as-yet-unfinished apartment for caregivers to live if necessary.
– Roya Gharavi
Floyd Merryman III serves as Executive Chairman of Sonny Merryman, Inc., the bus company founded by his father in the late 1960s, after decades as President and CEO. A Virginia Tech alumnus, class of ’81, and devoted Hokie fan, Merryman carries on the family’s philanthropic endeavors. Just three years ago, he committed $1 million for the Merryman Athletic Center and another $1 million toward the new Global Business and Analytics Complex within VT’s Pamplin College of Business. Hanging out with sports pals and Roya in the Persian Palace takes center stage in his life this time of year.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Christy Wallace