The Art Of Compromise

April 28, 1991|By YOLANDA GARFIELD

In June 1987, Jean Hoppenfeld-McPeters and her husband, Doug McPeters, purchased a picturesque wooded lot in Baltimore County. From the outset, Jean, co-owner of a crafts shop, expressed a desire for a contemporary arts-and-crafts compound. Doug, a stockbroker, envisioned a traditional, stately manor in the woods. Realizing that a series of compromises was in order, the couple worked with Columbia architect Gary King on a home design. Together they designed a masterpiece of compromise that almost set the McPeterses out on a limb.

The pristine white house is a design echo of the turn-of-the century farmhouses found throughout the state. The gables and a clustered structural appearance are reminiscent of a warm family home, whereas the stylized, contemporary treatment of the traditional design is evocative of a folk art house large enough for people to live in.

And that was almost its undoing.

It took months of planning and negotiating to achieve a design that, in its first incarnation, seemed perfect. Unfortunately, it was also over budget.

What seemed to be an insoluble problem was solved when a photocopy machine shrank the design 30 percent, to a manageable 3,741-square-foot, three-story residence. While this method of shrinking an over-budgeted house to budget size will not work for all plans, it worked for this one with only minor modifications, primarily because Mr. King's design manipulated space so that no square footage was left without purpose. A center hallway, which provides uncomplicated access to all parts of the house, is actually an extension of each room it serves.

fTC "We needed to make the house seem larger," says Mr. King, "and so we went up. Cathedral ceilings, catwalks to open the roof up to the sky, all maximize the potential of the environment."

The desire of his clients to enjoy views and an abundance of natural light inspired Mr. King to end each interior vista with either a French door or window. This room-enlarging technique eliminates dead ends and ensures that the distinction between indoors and out becomes blurred.

The grouping of like spaces, such as the casual family room and kitchen, the formal living room, foyer and dining room, or the very private master bedroom, bath and dressing areas, also helped keep costs down. Each area is cradled beneath a gable, which creates a cathedral ceiling, and forms a dramatic, multiple-gabled, clustered appearance on the exterior of the house.

The siting, described by Mr. King as "an island in the woods," was conceived to take full advantage of the view of a valley and stream to the rear of the house. Mr. King's vision of an island in the woods is revealed from a distance, when one views the house from the gracefully meandering driveway. "There's a circular geometry, expressed first by a curved timber retaining wall and then through to the actual building form as the circle engages the office and garage wing of the house," he says.

Throughout the public rooms, finishes have been kept crisp and simple to allow the owners' eclectic collection of art and crafts to take the forefront. Rounded, upholstered furniture and an expertly designed lighting system ensure a warm, inviting look.

Built-in niches serve as storage and display areas for everything from cookbooks and wine in the kitchen to more books and craft pieces elsewhere. The highly organized display system ensures an uncluttered look for the collections.

As a result, the home is a successful blending of two styles, a perfect complement to the art and crafts collection and the people who live here.

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