'Pink house' is eye-catcher Harford home everything its owners ever wanted

Dream Home

October 12, 1997|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's not unusual for passers-by to impulsively turn their cars into the long driveway that leads to Paul and Kathleen Gilbert's Victorian-style home in Darlington.

They just can't seem to drive by without stopping for a closer look at what has come to be called "the pink house" in the rural Harford County village.

"It's really amazing," said Gilbert, 49, the director of economic development for Harford County. "When I designed this house for my wife I knew that we were building a unique home. I just never dreamed how the world would react to it."

Fact is, there's something about the house that invites more than just a passing glance.

No doubt a pink house is a bit of an eye-catcher. But look again and you'll see that the Priscilla Pink that the Gilberts finally settled on after trying several other shades of pink is really only an accent color on the bay window panels and doors.

The predominant color of the siding is Biscayne Blue, and the trim is pure white. But pink is the hue that stands out.

"You have to be reasonably secure with your manhood to live in a pink house," Gilbert joked. "It's truly an accent color, but people still say to me, 'Oh, you live in the pink house.' "

"We wanted our house to have color -- soft but happy color," said Mrs. Gilbert, 49, a receptionist for a Fallston beauty salon. "We didn't want plain white."

While the colors may be intriguing, the two-story home with a two-car garage tucked underneath also has a distinctive style. Its look has been described as that of both an old-fashioned dollhouse and a turn-of-the-century London townhouse.

Rising tall and narrow in the middle of a four-acre lot, it is intricately decorated with assorted gingerbread trim, finials with ceramic globes and fish-scale siding.

The covered front porch and second-floor balcony above it -- where the Gilberts may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea -- have white painted rails and pink front doors with oval glass windows. There's white lattice under the porch and front bay and all of the gingerbread is white.

Beneath the gable, the stacked bay windows of the living room and master bedroom are adorned with white framed rosettes in pink panels.

"This house is everything I've ever really wanted," Mrs. Gilbert said. She has named it "Gingerbread Hollow."

The Gilberts sold their 3,400-square-foot, five-bedroom Colonial home in Bel Air two years ago because it was too large. They moved into an apartment for about six months while their 2,250-square-foot home was built by SBS Custom Homes of Bel Air.

The combined cost for the house and lot in Darlington was $215,000.

Gilbert is not a practicing architect, but learned to design houses in college while earning a bachelor's degree in architecture.

The plans he drew for the spacious three-bedroom house had large rooms and 9-foot ceilings. He carefully measured their furniture so that each piece would fit into a specified location in the new home. "On a scale of 10, I'd give it a 9.5," he said of his design.

"Paul was up here almost every day checking on things during the construction," Mrs. Gilbert said. "He had a good relationship with the builder. The thing that makes this house so nice is that there were no nightmares, no horror stories to tell."

The couple selected everything -- the cherry kitchen cabinets, the black-and-white floor tiles, the cherry stain for the hardwood floors. They have painted and installed gingerbread trim, added framed rosettes to the panels under the windows and built a shed to match the house in style and color.

They plan to add spandrels in open doorways, build a window seat, install a spa off of the deck/patio area and plant an English garden with a fountain, benches and an arbor.

Eventually they want to build a playhouse for their 2-year-old granddaughter, Emily, and a small barn for a goat and some rabbits. All buildings will match the house, of course. "It will look like a little village," Mrs. Gilbert said.

They've enjoyed decorating the interior of their home together, creating a look that mixes country Victorian and cottage with touches of contemporary and Old World.

"We like a light and airy feel that's casual and laid-back," she said. "I want people to feel welcome when they come here."

Each room is filled with decorative items. In the foyer and entry hall are small statues on pedestals, prints and photos from a trip to Europe, a grandfather clock and a coat rack.

There's a wooden rocking horse and a table filled with family photographs in the formal living room. The dining room is a mix of contemporary and Victorian, with a lighted hutch, rose colored high back chairs, turn-of-the-century Paris street scene prints and mirrors with bows and ribbons.

A small wood pellet stove in the family room's cherry-stained red oak fireplace is built into a bay alcove with two small octagonal windows. A decorative turn-of-the century bicycle on the wall and a small footstool provide Victorian accents.

At the top of the turned staircase, the central hall is surrounded by the balcony, master bedroom and bath, two guest rooms and a second bathroom.

Over the claw foot tub in the master bath hangs an end panel from an old wooden packing crate for Cuticura Soap that they found during the restoration of their first home in Highlandtown. It has hung in their homes ever since.

"I love this house so much," she said. "I want to keep it in the family because there's so much of us in it. I can't see anybody else living in it."

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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