Churchville home blends couple's varying tastes


June 05, 1994|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Special to The Sun

Jay Valdes wanted his new home to be his castle -- not a two-story Colonial.

His wife, Erica, was looking for something a bit less medieval, a little more traditional.

"What we ended up with is an interesting compromise between his taste and my taste that I think both of us absolutely love now," Mrs. Valdes says.

Last summer, they moved into a custom English country manor with architectural features that combine the traditional with the medieval. A gargoyle of marble stands silent sentry on the front porch; there are bronze dragons on the lights inside the door.

The brick and stucco house has a steep, intricate roofline of dormers and gables, a two-story bay turret and a porte-cochere that connects the house to the guest suite/garage.

The couple, who work at the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, found the plans two years ago after searching through "hundreds" of magazines for something both would like.

"Her taste and my taste are pretty much opposite," says Mr. Valdes, 43, scientific adviser for biotechnology for the Army's Chemical and Biological Defense Command. "I kept coming up with castles and she kept coming up with Colonials."

They hired Harford Homes, based in Bel Air, to build their 3,500-square-foot house for $413,000 on 2.8 acres in a new development in Churchville.

"I just love Churchville," says Mrs. Valdes, 35, a research chemist. "It's convenient to I-95 and five minutes from Bel Air, but you're still basically in the country. I drive 12 miles past pastures and cows to get to work."

They altered the design to create a more practical floor plan, enlarging the living room and kitchen, adding a pantry and creating a mud room with a powder room and laundry area. A third of the basement is finished as a gym with a high-impact aerobics floor and fitness equipment; the rest they use for storage.

"I'm fussy," Mrs. Valdes says. "I've become real intolerant of house plans that are not practical. I've seen a lot of 4,500-square-foot houses with 2,000 square feet of wasted space."

They like the convenience of the porte-cochere, an archway in the house through which the driveway passes to a parking pad and garage in the rear. There's a side entrance inside the arch where they can unload their car under cover or greet guests informally into the mud room and kitchen.

The kitchen, which has cherry cabinets and hunter green countertops, adjoins the breakfast nook and is connected to the family room through an arched opening above the stove.

"I need the contact with the family room," says Mrs. Valdes, who likes to cook and entertains more than 100 guests twice each year at a winter open house and summer cookout.

A rear staircase leads from the kitchen to Mr. Valdes' den over the porte-cochere and the guest bedroom and bath, offering privacy to overnight visitors.

The formal entry at the front of the home welcomes guests into the living room/dining area or the family room. A multilevel turned oak staircase sweeps upward through a two-story bay turret lined with windows to the second floor, where a balcony outside the master bedroom overlooks the foyer.

The master bedroom has a fireplace and a private bath with whirlpool spa and walk-in closet, so the earliest riser can dress for work without awakening the other, Mrs. Valdes says.

The second-floor hall stretches from the master bedroom past her den/sewing nook, a spare bedroom and bath and the rear stairs before widening at Mr. Valdes' den and ending at the guest suite.

"This house fills all of our needs," Mrs. Valdes says. "And it's so unusual. I don't think anything could have been better."

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