New Home, Antique Styling


The owners of 50-plus rolling Baltimore County acres approached Baltimore architect Lawrence Link with a single request: Design a classic Georgian house as if you were creating a renovation.

The owners, admirers of American vernacular architecture, desired the feel of old-house history without the downside of renovating an existing house.

Thus were married the talents of Mr. Link; the unusually cooperative and knowledgeable owners; LMS Carpentry Inc., the construction company; interior designer Carmen Lawrence, and landscape architect Jonna Lazarus.

Within this collaboration, Mr. Link designed a house that borrowed stylings from other famous American houses, the best example being Mount Vernon, which evolved from a log cabin into the stately mansion.

"The idea was one of a consistent evolution of a style -- where the style came from and where it went and its logical conclusion in this Georgian manor," he says. "Not a house that looks as if it was built all at one time."

Thus, Mr. Link says, he designed a new house complete with additions and wings. In this way, the house does not compromise in its appearance of age nor in its promise of 20th century comforts.

The 9,500-square-foot house was constructed of handmade bricks and random-width Vermont slate roofing, two materials most often associated with historic houses. Copper-covered porches, gutters and downspouts quickly acquired a pleasant and natural patina of age.

The hand-carved walnut and hazelnut front entrance door leads to a grand, two-story hall, which measures more than 18 feet wide by 45 feet long. The hall sets the tone for the formal areas of the house and reflects the builders' desires to craft rather than build.

The many innovative techniques and materials, including moldings, hardware and finishes, reflect the enthusiasm of Larry Slavik, LMS Carpentry's vice president. For example, the entrance hall's exquisitely crafted moldings conceal a front closet door that when closed is virtually invisible to the eye.

Also in the entrance hall, a serpentine staircase floats along a 20-foot span with no visible supports. "It's supported by steel I-beams," says Mr. Slavik. The staircase flares from a generous 4 feet wide at the center out to 7 feet wide at the base and 5 feet wide at the top.

Century-old chestnut logs were used to build the family room and kitchen walls and ceilings, backed by a modern, custom joist system.

"Even the kitchen cabinets were made from the same chestnut logs," says Mr. Slavik, "all milled by us and then built on the site to resemble an Old-World kitchen."

With all these touches from the past, the kitchen/family room, though state-of-the-art, evokes the look of a humble log cabin and helps give this new house an antique appearance..

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