Walls of windows, cathedral ceilings skylights and a kitchen that's center stage satisfy a couple with a taste for the spacious


April 20, 1997|By Karin Remesch

When Anne and Jayant add the finishing touches to dishes for a dinner party, they don't feel isolated from their guests. Instead they are center stage, working in the expansive open kitchen of their Baltimore County home while chatting with friends who are mingling in the surrounding living area of the great room.

"We both like to cook and wanted the kitchen to become the focal point of our new home," says Anne, adding that she and Jayant, her husband, also wanted a house without formal living and dining spaces.

She says their previous house was too formal, with rooms isolated from one another. "I didn't even feel comfortable enough to sit in my living room and read a book. Nobody ever sat in the living room," she adds.

"We wanted a house we could live in ... not a museum, and we wanted our guests to come in and be comfortable."

To accomplish that task, Anne and Jayant employed the services of interior designer Rebeka Gurfinchel. Along with the home's architect, Allan Hitchcock, and builders William F. Lockard Jr. & Sons, Gurfinchel began working with the couple during the house's planning stage five years ago, helping them transform their ideas into reality.

Completed in 1994, the octagonal, English-style country house on 35 wooded acres is traditional in design with contemporary accents. The interior is comfortable, open and airy, with cathedral ceilings that reach 26 feet off-center and then gradually drop to 10 feet.

Skylights add brightness, and walls of windows and French doors bring in additional light and integrate the interior with the wooded outdoors. An eclectic mix of furnishing styles, ranging from antique to traditional to modern with ethnic touches, reflects Jayant's Indian heritage and creates a feeling of comfort and coziness throughout the house.

The granite and marble custom-patterned floor in the foyer is designed in colors that are repeated throughout the 5,000-square-foot house -- black, rust and green. Italian sculptures placed in niches in the foyer are enhanced by illuminated mirrors.

The foyer leads immediately into the great room -- the focal point of the house.

"We call it the great room because it gives us living and work space without being separated by walls," says Anne.

Angled walls of French doors and large windows at the far end give the open room shape. The kitchen area at left has enough space to allow the couple to prepare food for large gatherings, yet it is intimate enough for small family dinners.

Comfortable nonmatching furniture placed in a free-form arrangement makes the living area instantly inviting. A glass table surrounded by eight traditional chairs placed near the kitchen, and in front of the French doors, creates the dining area.

"Anne knew what she wanted when we first met," says Gurfinchel. "She came into my office with luggage filled with hundreds of magazines as guides for each room."

'A team effort'

Together Anne and Gurfinchel set out to design the interior of the house, with input from Jayant and the couple's daughters, Michelle, 24, and Lisa, 22.

"What I liked about Rebeka is that she let me voice what I wanted. I was determined that I would have an influence in the design of the house I was going to live in," says Anne.

Gurfinchel readily admits that she liked many of Anne's ideas, but not all of them.

"But we compromised -- a designer has a tremendous responsibility on her hands, and in order to transform ideas into reality it takes a team effort," she says.

An example of this effort was the work that went into creating the seating group in the living area. Gurfinchel says that she and Anne first selected material for a tufted traditional Baker sofa and then chose overstuffed chairs.

"We didn't purchase anything at first, just picked a color scheme, collected the pieces and selected a carpet," adds Gurfinchel. "This way we had to wait a bit longer, but had a perfect package."

Colors of seafoam and jade greens, rust, melon, gold and off-white are repeated in the furniture material and the Soumak carpet. The pattern is a mix of flowers and abstract lines.

"Exactly the colors Jayant and I didn't want in the house," says Anne with a laugh. "The one thing we agreed upon -- he didn't want any gold tones and I didn't want any greens. But Rebeka helped us change our minds and now those colors run all through the house and blend beautifully."

Adds Gurfinchel: "Color is beautiful if it is mixed and balanced properly."

The living area's sofa sits against a wall separating the hallway from the great room. Cut off at 9 feet, the partial wall creates an optical illusion of a much wider and more open space.

Chairs are loosely grouped around two sides of a glass coffee table that holds an eclectic mix of accent pieces -- a primitive, hand-painted wooden box from India sits next to a hand-cut crystal bowl and a vase filled with roses.

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