Celebration Of Tradition

May 16, 1993|By Beth Smith

The staircase is made for brides. Graceful and traditional, it has eight steps leading from the bottom to a midway landing, where it then fans into twin units and continues to the second floor. At the top, a handsome rail and banister catwalk meanders around the edge of the open space and overlooks the marble-floored foyer.

"My sister had her wedding pictures taken on the stairway," says the owner, as she shows a visitor through the many rooms that make up the interior of this gracious Georgian home. "But, I don't see any brides in the near future. We have two sons, one 13 and one 11," she adds with a laugh.

Well, brides may be missing for a few years, but the house is a natural for formal parties. The owners have had Christmas parties with more than 100 people in attendance. But while the home has nearly 7,000 square feet of living space, it is not overwhelming or opulent. The owner did not want it to be. "I wanted a comfortable and warm home for my family," she says.

The owners began planning for such a house more than eight years ago. They knew they wanted the stateliness and charm of an in-town mansion, but they owned a 3-acre lot in Baltimore County subdivision and were committed to building there.

They developed their plans for the house with a contractor, Hometown Builders. This cooperative effort was rewarded in 1985 when the house won an award of excellence from the Sales and Marketing Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland.

Today, driving between the brick pillars that mark the entrance and up the circular driveway toward the home, one is almost deceived into thinking that somehow a Guilford mansion was magically transported to a new subdivision in the country. Built from oversized bricks, spidered with veins and cracks to give an aging effect, the house is symmetrical, formal and anchored by two massive chimneys at either end of the main structure.

Yet despite its traditional formality and Georgian overtones, it is extremely inviting and exudes a reassuring confidence that it is in its rightful place.

The interior is just as confident in its design scheme. Each room has been planned to create an easy transition from the more formal living spaces to the casual areas of the house, yet each has its own sense of integrity and style.

Although the owner was very involved in the design process, she is quick to give credit for the interior design to Donna Foertsch, owner of D.L.F. Design Associates Inc. in Timonium.

Ms. Foertsch sensed she was facing a challenge when she first talked to the owners. "I knew my clients were going from a very small house to a very large house and that none of their old things was going to be reused," she recalls. "We were really going to start from scratch and do one room at a time." The job not only included furniture selection, but wall coverings, floor coverings, accessories, even doorknobs and brass fixtures.

For Ms. Foertsch, the key to the design of any house is the color plan. In this home, peaches, roses, and blues dominate and lend a warm cohesiveness to the overall living spaces. In the foyer, the hand-laid marble flooring, each square just a bit different in its pale rose coloration, and the peach grasscloth wallpaper are a perfect introduction to the formality of the living room and dining room, which sit in symmetrical balance on each side of the entrance area.

In the living room, the eye is drawn to the handsome fireplace with its traditional mantel and inlaid marble, as well as the deep crown molding carved with a shell and bell flower motif. The floor is red oak and covered with a custom-made rug whose corners are cut with a shell design similar to the one in the molding.

The windows display a simple, but effective use of swags and jabots in a fabric borrowed from the dining room walls. Because the property surrounding the house is very private, the owner decided to forgo heavy window treatments. An incidental benefit is the flooding of natural light into the rooms.

The perfect setting for an elegant gathering, the living room contains furniture that is a happy mix of English and French styles. The prettiest piece is a loose-cushioned Chippendale-design sofa in a pale pink silk stripe that is accented with fringed pillows covered in a Scalamandre fabric. A French accent chest is balanced by two French armchairs covered in a pink plaid.

Across the foyer, the dining room is vividly wallpapered in a deep blue floral that is picked up in the swags and jobots on the windows and on the two upholstered host chairs. The mahogany table and dining chairs are by John Widdicomb and came from the Design Center in Washington, D.C. The room also features ivory-colored chair-rail and wainscoting, a glittering crystal chandelier, imported from Europe, and striking red oak flooring.

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