Old, romantic Victorian has 'lots of character'

DREAM HOME

November 28, 1993|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Contributing Writer

After months of painting, wallpapering, refinishing and decorating, Ken and Jackie Barduca were finally ready this fall to open the doors of their old Victorian house in historic Darlington to overnight guests.

They held the grand opening of the Darlington Manor Bed and Breakfast in early October, inviting visitors from the popular Darlington Apple Festival to stop by for a peek inside the rose, lavender and paisley rooms -- their three Victorian-style guest chambers.

"I've always wanted an old Victorian house that I could make into gingerbread and lace and romance," Mrs. Barduca said. "There are still times when I say to my husband, 'Do we really live here?' "

The Barducas were only "window-shopping" a few years ago when they spied an ad in a real estate circular for a house built about 1906 in this rural town, just off U.S. 1 in northeast Harford County. The home is in a downtown section listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

"We fell in love with it," Mrs. Barduca said. "It was a fabulous, neat old home with lots and lots of character."

The house is hidden behind 500 feet of privacy hedge, which wraps around a three-quarter-acre lot on Route 161, the main street through town. Massive Norwegian spruces, maple and holly trees tower overhead; there's an in-ground pool in the backyard.

The frame house is covered with creamy vinyl siding and a bold mix of mauve and Hunter-green window frames and shutters.

With 3,000 square feet of living space on three floors, formal dining and conversation rooms and five bedrooms, the Barducas decided to open a bed and breakfast to supplement their income in a shaky economy.

Friends had often encouraged Mrs. Barduca to open a business and use her cooking skills. "I like to cook . . . but the restaurant business is a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day job," Mrs. Barduca said. "We decided that one neat thing we could really enjoy doing was a bed and breakfast. It's a warmer type of situation where you get to know the people much better."

The two still work full time at Martin Marietta Aero & Naval Systems in Middle River -- a 50-minute commute from their new home.

The Barducas are in their early 40s and have a 3-year-old daughter, Tiffany. They bought the house with the covered porch for $168,000 in July 1991, moving in the following March after their townhouse in Joppatowne was sold and kitchen and bathroom renovations on their new home were finished.

They spent much of the next year-and-a-half restaining the dark cherry woodwork, cleaning wood floors and wallpapering every room in the house except for their own bedroom -- which still needs to be done. Renovations have totaled nearly $80,000.

The wallpaper patterns, mauve-and-green color scheme and furnishings reflect a "Victorian romantic" style, Mrs. Barduca said.

Floral-patterned wallpaper is paired with stripes. Lace curtains are topped with warm-hued valances. Formal guest rooms are decorated with crystal, poetry books, sachets, ceiling fans and baskets full of soft towels.

The house is furnished with period reproductions, Oriental rugs and family antiques, including a dining room table that seats 12 and was a wedding gift from Mr. Barduca's grandmother to his mother.

A christening outfit made from his mother's wedding gown hangs on the wall in one of the guest rooms.

"When you go to a bed and breakfast you know you're going to be involved in conversation and exchanging life experiences," Mr. Barduca said. "You've rented a room in somebody's home. Some people like the warmth and comfort of that."

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