Home in Randallstown is a 'private sanctuary'


January 30, 1994|By Maryalice Yakutchik | Maryalice Yakutchik,Contributing Writer

Mary and Joseph Payton's home is a place for reflection.

In addition to three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, dining room and living room -- with its impressive floor-to-cathedral ceiling mirror -- the Paytons' home includes a cozy den set aside for prayer and meditation.

"We are very spiritual," Mrs. Payton says. "This is our private sanctuary. I come here when I want to relieve stress."

Hardly a day has gone by in the past 2 1/2 years, they say, that one of them hasn't offered thanks for their home -- a brick split-level in the Lynn Acres section of Randallstown.

"When I walked in, I said, 'This is it,' " Mrs. Payton says. "This is the house that God wants us to be in. Everything fell right into place for us."

The couple and their three children -- Conswello, 18, Ernest, 16, and Jonathan, 10 -- had been living in East Baltimore, renting to own a tiny and dark $39,000 house. None of them was particularly fond of it.

"But nothing worked out for us to buy that place when it came time," Mr. Payton says.

Then Mrs. Payton happened by a home for sale on Lynne Haven Drive that listed for $110,000 -- well out of their price range.

But it had everything they wanted: an inviting family room, perfect for "fellowship"; formal living and dining rooms where Mrs. Payton could show off her artistic flair; and an acre of property protected from the bustle of Liberty Road by a row of towering old pines.

"Joseph always wanted a home that sits by itself," she says, "where he'd be able to walk around the whole house."

Also in the home's favor was its location, Mr. Payton says: Their children now attend Baltimore County schools instead of city schools.

While the house met all their needs, Mrs. Payton also had a feeling about the place from the beginning that she says was so strong that she phoned her husband at work -- People Encouraging People, a city agency that works with the mentally ill -- and insisted that he come right away to look at it.

"We are firm believers that the Lord will lead," says Mr. Payton, an ordained Pentecostal minister.

That evening, the couple put a bid on the property.

Later that night, Mrs. Payton says she felt compelled to get out of bed and drive back to Lynne Haven Drive. She circled the block again and again -- seven times, "because seven is a spiritual number," she says.

"I started praying in front of the house, then I went home, and two weeks later, [the real estate agent] called and told me the house had come through for us."

The Paytons bought it for $87,000. They repainted and wallpapered the walls in Mary's favorite shades of peach and green.

Security bars came down, windows were cleaned and opened to let in air and light for Mary's big leafy plants. Mirrors went up on almost every wall.

"We put at least $12,000 into this home," Mr. Payton says, "with new drain spouts and doors and cosmetic changes in every room. If the former owners walked into this house, they wouldn't recognize it."

He credits his wife with the custom designs throughout: from the oversized silk flower arrangement -- the focal point of the dining room -- to the color of the lace on the towels in the guest bathroom.

"I'm creative with my hands," says Mrs. Payton, who runs Mary's Creative Unlimited Designs, specializing in making and selling fashionable hats and beaded sweaters.

She also is founder of a group of Christian couples, called Focus on Marriage, that often meets in her family room.

"I want people to feel the welcome and love here," she says, "and want them to feel more uplifted when they leave."

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