Designed for comfort, accessibility


September 18, 1994|By Jill L. Kubatko | Jill L. Kubatko,Contributing Writer

David and Carol Bellomy sat down with a blank piece of graph paper in February 1990 and sketched a rough draft for their home.

They needed a special house, one comfortable for Mr. Bellomy, who was paralyzed in a car accident caused by a drunken driver.

The 1987 accident, which occurred on Route 97 in southern Carroll County, killed his wife. He later married Carol, a family friend, and moved into her Eldersburg home.

But he couldn't navigate her home in his wheelchair, so they set out to design a more suitable house.

"It's pretty unique," Mrs. Bellomy, 50, a psychiatric nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "Neither of us had any experience drawing plans." Her husband, 33, is a substitute teacher at Catonsville Community College.

Within four months, they moved into the new, 2,100-square-foot rancher -- which, with the swimming pool and deck, cost $200,000 to build. The 3 1/2 -acre lot -- off Sandymount Road in Finksburg -- cost another $80,000.

The home, they say, is perfect for them: accessible, yet private.

"We like our privacy," says Mrs. Bellomy. But "we don't have to be private. We can choose to have friends over, too."

Originally, the couple drew walls to separate the dining, living and family rooms. After using a model wheelchair and pushing it around the plans, they realized the walls had to come down. The open area measures 30 feet by 25 feet, with a wood stove and small wall dividing it from the hallway. The living area has a 16-foot cathedral ceiling, four skylights and a bay window.

Furniture is placed so as not to impede Mr. Bellomy's movement. There is no coffee table in the living room, nor are there chairs around the dining room table.

The kitchen has all-oak cabinets, chosen for durability. Accommodations include a wall-oven that, when the door is opened, just touches Mr. Bellomy's lap; open space below the sink, so he can roll his wheelchair up to it; cupboards with drawers or lazy susans; a breakfast bar with no legs; a cooking island 3 inches lower than standard and a microwave about 2 feet from the floor.

"It took some time to get used to that," says Mrs. Bellomy.

The hallways leading to two bedrooms, a master bedroom and three baths are 5 feet wide, as opposed to the usual 3 feet. Ken, their 13 year-old son, has one of the bedrooms.

Basement stairs feature a donated lift. A wood stove, guest room and half-bath are in the unfinished basement.

The 17-by-25-foot master bedroom at the rear of the home overlooks the pool with a door leading to the deck. A shelving unit is used for a headboard, instead of night tables.

Two sinks, one handicapped-accessible with mirror to the side, a shower with seat and rails, and a whirlpool are in the master bath.

The swimming pool is extra deep, graduating from 7 1/2 feet to 10 1/2 feet, so Mr. Bellomy's feet do not touch the bottom while treading water. Rails and two loveseats in the pool are for resting.

A laundry/bathroom has a raised shelf so Mr. Bellomy can fold clothes. "She's thought of everything," says Mr. Bellomy, joking that he can't avoid household chores.

A ramp leads to the two-car garage with a workshop. Outside is an oversized shed with gardening tools and modified John Deere tractor.

They grow flowers and vegetables in large pots and in-ground flower gardens are heavily mulched to avoid weeding.

Doors swing to the outside, to allow more space within thhome. Sidewalks and the back porch and deck leading to the pool are extra wide, too.

A custom-made picnic table allows Mr. Bellomy to wheel up for picnics.

"I always have a seat," he jokes.

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