NFL coach Mike Vrabel's custom former home gets new owners.
Nestled against a wooded ravine on a 7-acre lot, the estate home is barely visible as it peeks through mature trees and a gated fence. Though fairly secluded from its neighbors, the huge home is only a short drive from more populous areas. Its 10,000 square feet of space is surprisingly approachable and offers plenty of welcoming warmth among its many rooms.
Larry and MaryBeth Tipton moved into the home in the summer of 2016 following what they describe as a whirlwind process of selling their Lancaster house. MaryBeth, a certified yoga instructor who makes and sells jewelry, recalls sitting at an outdoor café in Florence, Italy, when a Realtor friend called her.
“He had been working with buyers for a year that hadn’t found the right house and he said, ‘You know, I think your house would be perfect, would you be willing to sell?’” she recalls.
The Tiptons had been talking about relocating closer to Columbus, so they decided to show their home while they were away. Before they knew it, they were accepting a full-price offer and agreeing to sell—all while still traveling. The quick turn of events meant that they were suddenly thrust into their own house hunt immediately upon their return. “We came back from Italy and had to get busy right away,” she adds.
Larry, who owns a number of Buffalo Wild Wings locations and the Pizza Cottage restaurant group, one day noticed a steep price reduction in this resort-style home in Delaware. It was much more square footage than they had envisioned, and MaryBeth admits that, at first, she thought the idea was crazy.
“She thought it was way too much—way too much of everything,” recalls Larry. “But when we got in here, we’re like, ‘Nah, this is cool.’”
Adorned with dark woodwork, iron finishes and stone features, the home’s timeless character and thoughtful layout immediately appealed to the couple. The house was custom-built in 2008 by Heninger Homes for former Ohio State player and now Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel and his family. It features three levels with a luxurious, spa-like backyard.
Indoors, there are four bedrooms, eight baths, four laundry rooms and numerous grand spaces for entertaining. Most days, it’s just the two of them and their long-haired German shepherd named Jack, but the Tiptons agree that the home is livable and has become a wonderful place to host family and friends. Aside from plenty of space, its classic design has given them the opportunity to explore their shared decorating taste and showcase their most treasured pieces.
Painted in warm, rich earth tones throughout, every room is a reflection of their personalities and a cultivation of their experiences, with special family photos and heirlooms, piles of books on favorite subjects and meaningful artwork collected locally and from their travels abroad.
“We’re really inspired by our trips to Europe, but we’re also very inspired by time spent down at the Biltmore,” says MaryBeth of the historic North Carolina estate’s influence on their style. Because it was important to the couple to invest in comfortable, high-quality furniture, most of the home’s furnishings were specially purchased from shops in Hickory, North Carolina to complement the house’s old-world charm.
Among its most unique architectural features is a two-story great room with cathedral ceilings. Vast in size but anchored by a comfortable seating area, warm accents within the space include a stone fireplace, wooden ceiling beams and built-in shelving that create a cozy atmosphere.
As one of the only rooms in the home without a TV—to Larry’s chagrin and MaryBeth’s delight, they joke—they have designated the great room solely for conversation and gathering. Large windows look out over the backyard and bring the outdoors inside. On the other side is an oasis including a salt-water pool, a hot tub, a built-in grill, a covered hearth with a TV and plenty of seating space for warm weather months.
Back inside, another highlight on the main level is a gourmet kitchen finished in antiqued-wood cabinetry. Configured around a U-shaped island, the space was designed purposefully with cooking and entertaining in mind. Two dishwashers, a six-burner stove with a grill, double ovens and a warming drawer complete the space.
Beyond the kitchen is a walk-in pantry, a laundry room and access to the home’s four-car garage, which houses a portion of Larry’s extensive car collection. A back staircase leads to MaryBeth’s second-floor office.
It is, perhaps, the four-season room located in the rear of the house where the homeowners spend the most time. “It’s kind of our favorite spot,” says Larry. Light and bright with several windows and comfortable furniture that the Tiptons had custom-created for the space, it is the perfect place to start the day with coffee or to unwind in the evening with a glass of wine. When the weather allows, the windows are open, letting in the peaceful sounds of the property, including the outdoor waterfall.
At the opposite end of the main level, a spacious master suite provides plenty of privacy. It includes a sizable walk-in closet, another laundry room and a private sitting area. An impressive master bath features double vanities, a Jacuzzi tub and a massive, two-person shower. Special perks include a TV and access to the whole-house sound system, which can also be enjoyed through speakers installed inside the shower.
“We want [the home] to be comfortable, and we want it to be welcoming,” says MaryBeth of creating an atmosphere that is approachable and informal. While the couple does not describe themselves as avid entertainers, they find a lot of joy in sharing the space with family and friends several times a year for holidays, get-togethers and annual pool parties. During these gatherings, the expansive walkout lower level is often used.
This area is extravagantly designed with coffered ceilings, stone walls and plenty of windows. The space includes a full kitchen and bar, featuring MaryBeth’s wine collection. Guests enjoy hours of fun in the nearby game room or watching a movie on the big screen in the comfortable home theater.
Because the lower level is an access point to the outdoors, it also enables MaryBeth’s yoga students a convenient entry point to her private studio, where a separate exercise room and a third laundry room also exist.
While the Tiptons say they are unsure how long they will remain in the house and where their future might take them, they agree that the space is perfect for now. “It was meant to be,” says MaryBeth, despite her first impression of the home’s enormity when Larry originally proposed buying it.
“One thing about this house, you never get bored,” says Larry. “You could burn up a whole weekend and never leave the house.”
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