Woman exults in home of her own


April 24, 1994|By Bonita Dvorak Formwalt | Bonita Dvorak Formwalt,Special to The Sun

Prominent in the entry foyer of Marina Gethers' home is a framed copy of the Billie Holliday song "God Bless The Child That Has His Own" -- for Ms. Gethers, an ode to home buying.

"A lot of people were very helpful when I was deciding whether or not to buy the house, but there were a few who were negative," says Ms. Gethers, an employee counselor for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore. "They couldn't understand why a single woman needed to buy a home."

Ms. Gethers moved into her $86,000 townhouse, in the Quail Meadows development off Dogwood Road in Woodlawn, in June. Her five years of active service in the Coast Guard entitled her to a 7.5 percent fixed-rate VA mortgage.

"I was paying almost as much in rent as I am now with the mortgage. Using the VA mortgage, I thought it was a good investment," she says.

After leaving the Coast Guard, Ms. Gethers earned a master's degree in social work at the University of Kansas. Eventually, she moved to her current job with the SSA in Baltimore -- located halfway between her family in Connecticut and South Carolina.

On the lower level of the three-bedroom, 1 1/2 -bath house is a family room where Ms. Gethers entertains and relaxes in the evening. Sliding glass doors open onto a ground-level deck overlooking a wooded area. A small stream separates her back yard from another section of the development.

Accessibility through the sliding doors and the large lower-level storage area was a major selling point for Ms. Gethers. Her

brother is a paraplegic, and it's important to her that he be able to enter the house easily when he visits.

"It's possible that he may decide to move in with me in the future. In that case, I can turn the downstairs storage room into a bedroom with a bath," she says.

Using the family room for entertaining frees up the second level for cooking and dining. A small room in the front of the house is used for casual dining.

For special occasions, Ms. Gethers has converted the larger living room into a formal dining room accented in peach and coral.

She intends to concentrate her initial remodeling efforts on the first level.

"I'd like to expand the walk-through kitchen into the smaller dining room. Perhaps pull up the carpet and replace it with flooring to open up and connect the entire kitchen area," she says.

A half-wall sets off the split foyer entry, and showcases a collection of small elephant figurines, the mascot of her University of Kansas sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.

An angled staircase leads to the upstairs bedrooms.

Awaiting a desk and file cabinets, the smallest of the three bedrooms will be used as an office.

Guests are welcome to use the second bedroom, if they don't mind sharing the white day-bed with Ms. Gethers' collection of oversized stuffed animals.

The master bedroom has three closets lining one wall. ("I'm a pack rat," says Ms. Gethers. "No one can go in there.")

Seated in her dining room, full of plans and ideas, Ms. Gethers reflects on the words of Billie Holliday.

Buying my own house, having this," she pauses, then smiles, "I have my own. I'm blessed."

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