A place worth calling home about

DREAM HOME

June 19, 1994|By Donna Weaver | Donna Weaver,Contributing Writer

When friends visit the Johnstons' new brick rancher in Eldersburg, they get the urge to phone home.

They must tell family and friends from where they're calling: a pre-World War II wooden telephone booth built into the wall of the Johnstons' foyer. Everything is original, from the wooden seat, to the bifold wood and glass doors, to the instructions on phone use.

For the Johnstons and their guests, the coin for the call -- a nickel -- is not needed.

The booth does have one new convenience: a fan, so that callers don't get too stuffy.

For Mark Johnston, an avid antique phone collector, adding the booth to a home he designed and built has fulfilled a childhood dream.

"When I was growing up, I had suggested to my father that he put a phone booth in a split-level house he was building," recalls Mr. Johnston, 40, who runs the carpentry and sheet metal shops at Springfield State Hospital. "But he never did."

So, Mr. Johnston pencilled in the telephone booth when he began designing the 2,600-square-foot rancher.

"Through all the design changes, that booth was always there," says his wife, JoAnn, 43.

"But people really like it. At our Christmas party, every time I turned around people were in the phone booth making phone calls."

The fascination with telephones doesn't end with the booth. The Johnstons have supplied almost every room, including the two-car garage, with working, antique telephones. There's a black Candlestick telephone from the 1920s on the built-in desk in the kitchen and a 1930s 300 Set model on an antique telephone table in the living room.

But there's more to this 2 1/2 -bath, three-bedroom home than antique telephones. Situated on an acre behind the home of Mrs. Johnston's mother, the L-shaped rancher is loaded with features. There are the pine doors and trim, plaster walls and ceilings, intercom system, casement windows, built-in vacuum cleaning system, oak floor in the living room, skylights in the full baths, brick wall in the kitchen and living room, ceramic tile floors in the kitchen and bathrooms, and the cathedral ceilings in the foyer, living room, kitchen and family room.

The rooms that grab the most attention are the living room, kitchen and family room. They're spacious and open, thanks to the cathedral ceilings and open floor plan. The kitchen-family room measures 20 feet by 34 feet. The kitchen has oak cabinets, a double oven and oak shelves that display some of Mrs. Johnston's collection of Wade porcelain figurines, including turtles, tigers and elephants. A brick bearing wall divides the kitchen and living room.

The bedrooms and Mrs. Johnston's sewing and crafts room are at the other end of house. The Johnston children -- Juliann, 9 and Jason, 7 -- have separate bedrooms but share a bathroom. The master bedroom, which measures 16 feet by 20 feet, features a Venetian window, his-and-her closets and a master bathroom with a whirlpool bath and separate shower. A private hallway connects the bedrooms with the family room.

The Johnstons -- who moved into the home last December -- built the home themselves for $170,000. It has been appraised at $260,000.

"The home was cheaper to build ourselves, plus we could do what we wanted," says Mrs. Johnston, a licensed practical nurse at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown.

"For example, we noticed that Jason's bedroom door could be seen from the foyer. I didn't like that, so Mark moved it. You can't do that with a builder."

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