First the furniture, then the home


September 25, 1994|By Beth Smith | Beth Smith,Special to The Sun

When Jannette and Skip Lawrence found a brick and cedar contemporary house in Phoenix, they wasted no time buying it.

Both lovers of modern interior design, they had been looking for just the right home to decorate with their own contemporary collection of furniture, which was, at the time, languishing inside a two-story Colonial in Harford County. One week after seeing the Phoenix home, they made an offer. Nearly two and a half years later, they have no regrets.

"I really loved this house when I saw it," says Mrs. Lawrence, a marketing representative with Bell Atlantic Corp. who counts among her hobbies home decoration and landscaping. "I knew it was perfect for the type of furniture we liked, but what really sold me was the garden."

Stretching up a slight grade from the large cedar deck that wraps around two sides of the house, the fenced garden included wide brick steps edged in landscaping ties, several plantings, a small rose garden tucked to one side and a play area in the rear of the yard. Since moving in, the Lawrences have added perennial beds of hosta, day lilies and astilbe.

They replaced the play area with a rock-edged water garden, home to 11 adult fish and dozens of baby fish. It also has a waterfall.

"When I sit on the deck and read, I can hear the water spilling over the waterfall," says Mrs. Lawrence, who adds that she and her husband enjoy listening to the sound so much they are considering adding a second adjoining pond and a second waterfall.

Arnie, the flame-point Himalayan cat that shares the home with the Lawrences and their dog, Molly, will be delighted. He likes to sit on the edge of the pond when Mrs. Lawrence feeds the fish, including koi that come when she claps her hands.

While the garden is full of wildlife, like butterflies and birds, the wooded property outside the redwood-stained fence often plays host to deer. "Last fall, I was raking leaves and I looked up and saw a huge deer standing right in my driveway, looking down at me," recalls Mr. Lawrence.

While Skip Lawrence likes the outdoor setting as much as his wife, he admits that what sold him on the house was its two-car garage and large basement, which houses his pool table. After moving in, he quickly worked to renovate the space by ripping out walls and building a bar.

Mr. Lawrence and his friends enjoy marathon card games in the basement, which has a masculine edge -- furnished with a large-screen TV, comfortable furniture and a genuine Western Telephone booth with dial telephone, vintage early 1900s. Mr. Lawrence, a supervisor of pay phones for Bell Atlantic, renovated the phone booth and added it to his collection of antique phones about 15 years ago.

Other than creating the water garden and renovating the basement, the Lawrences have made no major changes to their 2,500-square-foot home, which they bought for $245,000. Skip Lawrence estimates spending about $25,000 on the house since they moved in.

The first floor has a living room, dining room, den, bathroom-laundry and a kitchen that opens to a family room with a cathedral ceiling.

A carpeted stairway leads to the second floor and small loft, where Mrs. Lawrence often escapes to read. Ensconced in an oversized chair and ottoman combination, she also has a perfect view of the landscaped front lawn through a large window over the front door. Also on the second floor are a hallway, open on one side to the first-floor family room, plus three bedrooms and two baths.

Although the Lawrences moved three times in 12 years of marriage, they say this is their last move.

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