Take a view of bay, do some remodeling, get cozy elegance Family's summer house in Bowley's Quarters became full-time home

Dream Home

August 18, 1996|By Karin Remesch | Karin Remesch,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Entering Kathy and George Bell's home in Bowley's Quarters, one immediately feels welcomed by the warm and cozy elegance of the decor -- a bay window and rich cherry cabinets in the kitchen, chintz window treatments in a flower pattern that is repeated in the dining and living room wallpaper, a baby grand piano, grandfather clock, traditional furniture, and walls decorated with a mixture of family and fine arts.

But the furnishings are only a backdrop to the breathtaking view -- the Chesapeake Bay practically in arm's reach from a double-tier wooden deck off the living room.

On calm and cheery days, sunshine is reflected on the smooth water like sparkling diamonds. On overcast and windy days, rough waves pound against the stone bulkhead.

Mr. and Mrs. Bell bought their paradise by the sea almost 10 years ago -- on a whim.

Mr. Bell went to Bowley's Quarters to look for a fishing boat; instead he found a house.

That was in February 1987. By April the couple had settled on their new home, much to the dismay of their three children, especially the youngest daughter.

"Our daughter, Susie, thought it was about the ugliest house she had ever seen," said Mrs. Bell.

And, Mrs. Bell said, her daughter wasn't all that wrong. The house they purchased -- a six-bedroom, two-story cottage, with each floor cut up into small rooms -- had little resemblance to today's open and airy waterfront home.

"It really wasn't the house that grabbed us, it was the view," said Mrs. Bell.

Since Mr. Bell grew up near the water and spent most of his childhood vacations at a family summer home on the Eastern Shore, the couple has always been drawn to the water. They had toured the Bowley's Quarters neighborhood previously, but never noticed any "for sale" signs.

"The houses have pretty much stayed within the families that built them as summer homes in the 1920s," said Mrs. Bell.

Initially the Bells, who own Stark Office Services in Baltimore, were going to use the new house only as a summer home. But the more time they spent there, the harder it became to return home to Joppatowne.

"And we really couldn't financially afford to fix up the new home and keep the old," explained Mrs. Bell.

That's when Mr. Bell picked up a hammer and started knocking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room to capture the view of the bay.

And so began the remodeling of the house that had been leaning slightly to the left ever since it survived the great hurricane of 1933. With the help of contractors and friends from the old neighborhood, the house was gutted and reconstructed.

Metal cabinets in the kitchen were replaced by cherry. The living room was extended by combining it with the front bedroom.

Three sets of atrium doors were installed to bring in the view of the bay.

And off the living room, a glass-door enclosed porch leads to the deck that reaches almost to the water's edge.

Another bedroom was turned into an oversize bathroom, complete with a whirlpool step-up bathtub, glass-enclosed shower stall and twin cherry vanities with marble sinks and brass fixtures.

One bedroom remained on the first floor and, until the children left home, three bedrooms were kept on the second floor, though a bathroom was added.

Practically everything in the house was replaced, including the plumbing, windows, roof and siding. A new heating and air conditioning system was installed.

A brick fireplace that stretches along one wall adds a warm glow to the living room during chilly winter evenings.

The family moved into the remodeled house just before Christmas 1987, and even the children began to like the house.

Once the children married and left home, two bedrooms on the second floor were combined to create a luxurious, light-filled master bedroom with a view of the bay.

A feeling of spaciousness was created by a wall of three windows and a vaulted ceiling with motorized skylights that close automatically when it rains.

"This has really become my favorite room," said Mrs. Bell. "I've always wanted to wake up to bay breezes and the sound of splashing waves."

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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