Setting sail far from the Atlantic


June 12, 1994|By Bonita Dvorak Formwalt | Bonita Dvorak Formwalt,Contributing Writer

From the ship's wheel on the deck to the weathered rowboat "sunk" in the yard, Robert and Gloria Larkin have created the illusion of a waterfront sanctuary in the back yard of their Perry Hall home. Miles from the bay, this nautical theme adds a whimsical touch to their traditional decor.

Surveying the back yard from a deck fashioned from marine rope and telephone poles, Mr. Larkin laughs, "We always wanted to live on the water. For now this will have to do."

It should do very well, since all that's missing is the water. Everything else is already there.

In the yard an American flag flies from the flagpole shaped like a ship's mast. A lifelike sea gull stares from atop some pilings at a rowboat partially submerged in the yard. It has "run ashore," explains Mrs. Larkin.

Purchased in 1975 for $44,500, the new house signaled a beginning for the couple. Retired from 28 years with the city police department, Mr. Larkin was starting a second career as chief of security for Johns Hopkins University.

After raising four children in a Northwood rowhouse 17 1/2 feet wide, the couple was looking for more space.

"We wanted to make sure we had enough room to entertain guests and family. That was very important," says Mrs. Larkin, retired after 38 years with Wilmer Eye Institute at Hopkins.

The Larkins saw promise in the design of the three-bedroom split level. Light, space and angles combined to affect a bright open ** atmosphere.

On a late spring afternoon, sunlight streams into the traditional first floor, living and dining area from several sources -- a half moon opening at the apex of the cathedral ceiling, a bay window in the kitchen, sliding glass doors.

Mr. Larkin installed many of the windows. ("If there's a wall, he'll put a hole in it," promises his wife.)

One such wall over the kitchen door now boasts a leaded glass transom over the entry.

Cabinets painted a colonial green and baskets covering one wall create a country look for the eat-in kitchen. Dark decorative beams cross the angled ceiling, adding a dramatic contrast to the airiness of the room.

The search for natural light on the second floor required changes in a wall and a ceiling. Now, a skylight illuminates the rich rose color of a windowless bathroom. Across the hall, a hexagon-shaped window adds an extra window to a small den.

Collectibles -- dolls, colored glass bottles, Waterford crystal from Ireland -- are on display throughout the house. The entrance of the master bedroom sparkles with reflections from the 51 miniature gilded mirrors Mrs. Larkin has collected over 30 years. No two are the same.

JTC Throughout the house, the couple have used molding to add subtle detail to the white walls. Light color walls continue into the lower-level family room, where cream-colored brick and paneling complement the navy plaid furniture.

Here, the nautical theme returns. A porthole, salvaged from a ship, is recessed in a wall. An ornate ship's figurehead of a woman peers out from a powder room. Next to a small dining table stands a statue of a fisherman. Dressed in a yellow rain slicker he waits, poised for the chance to cast-off.

All that's missing is the water.

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