When artworks are center stage, neutrals provide a strong backdrop

POWERFULLY PALE

April 25, 1993|By YOLANDA GARFIELD

A palette of pales, from white to beige, sets the scene for fabulous collection of art in this Green Spring Valley house. In every room of the house, walls are white. Built-in cabinetry is crafted of maple, and polished until it glows a burnished-gold. Beginning in the foyer and extending throughout the hallways, dining room, kitchen and family room, all the floors are covered with white 12-inch Italian tiles. In the living room and the bedroom the pale loops of a bulky Berber carpet soften your travel and present a continuity of background that holds as you move through the house.

"I didn't want the artwork to be fighting with prints and color," the owner says. "I like the way neutrals set a background for anything else you do in the room. When there are people here, they become the color as well as the paintings."

For 15 years, the owners have been collecting art, which adorned their previous house, a four-story dwelling designed by an architect.

When their children grew up and moved out, the couple wanted to travel, yet they needed security for their collection.

They also sought a house that didn't put so many steps between the main living areas and their bedroom, while still providing room for visiting children and grandchildren. And they wanted to enjoy the wooded views to which they'd become accustomed -- without the accompanying lawn maintenance.

Their dreams of freedom to travel without worry came true when they settled on a house in a gated community. Here, exterior maintenance and spectacular woodland views come standard.

Also, the house boasted more square footage than the owners' old one, but the design was more convenient -- with a private master bedroom suite to one side of the foyer and guest quarters upstairs. Grandchildren can play in a spacious playroom on the lowest level while adults socialize on the main floor.

"It's the best of all possible worlds," says the owner.

A close friend, interior designer Keith Gasser, put his stamp of clean, contemporary, fussless elegance on the project. This principal of Benesch Gasser Design Inc., a Pikesville firm, also found ways to open the house up to light.

In the cluster house, which has no windows on either side because it is attached in a rowhouse formation to others, the kitchen was set off from the rest of the house, next to a laundry room and family room. Mr. Gasser moved the laundry room to the lowest level of the house, and removed walls to open the kitchen to the family room -- and light.

The master bedroom, too, was expanded, to accommodate a luxurious dressing and bath area as well as separate shower and dressing areas for each owner. For privacy and light control, French doors are covered with shutters. Here, except for the splashes of color provided by artworks, almost everything is white.

There's nothing boring about an all-white interior: Here's a house that proves it.

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