Couple make long-admired house their own Renovation: The Halstads jumped at the opportunity to buy an old house they had always loved, then made its rehabilitation a family project.

Dream Home

January 04, 1998|By Jill L. Kubatko | Jill L. Kubatko,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Leigh Halstad pinches herself each morning when she wakes up.

"It's like I am living in a bed-and-breakfast," she said. "I cannot believe I live in a house that is so beautiful.

"We are really lucky."

After about four months of renovations to the 1920s home, Leigh, husband Damian and their 2-year-old son, Walker, moved in last March.

The neo-Colonial-style home with a 10-by-30-foot porch sits across the street from the historic Westminster courthouse and is just six blocks from the Halstads' first home.

"We loved this house, and when it became available we jumped on it," said Damian, an attorney whose office is a five-minute walk from the house.

By contrast, Leigh works as a Maryland assistant attorney general in Baltimore and commutes about an hour each way to and from her job.

Shelia Young, a retired Carroll County school teacher, had lived in the home for almost two decades before she died. She had turned the top two floors into apartments while living on the first floor.

Once the Halstads settled on the home, renovating it became a family project.

Damian took on the role of general contractor and stripped, sanded and polyurethaned the wood floors throughout the house.

His brother, Chris, a contractor, took on the project of rehabilitating the interior.

Leigh's mother, Susie Swann, an interior designer, decorated the dwelling in coordinating hues, while maintaining the home's historic character.

Swann brought color schemes and decorating ideas to the Halstads, but let them make the final decisions.

"No matter what we picked, we couldn't go wrong," said Leigh. "She is the master of colors and fabrics."

The major renovations took place in the rear of the home where the kitchen was.

"The house needed the back blown off of it," said Swann.

To strengthen the kitchen for an addition, the Halstads installed a steel beam.

Other changes included installing a deck and a fence in the back yard.

The kitchens were removed from the second- and third-floor apartments, and layers of wallpaper were taken from just about every room.

An old carriage house sits at the rear of the house.

In all, the house has four finished levels and includes three bedrooms, four baths and a sitting room off the master suite.

The Halstads believe the 4,000-square-foot home was the last to be built on their street, where many of the Victorians and Colonials date to the late 1800s.

When entering the home, to the left is a small sitting area with an antique settee, chair and tables.

The colors used in the front of the house were chosen to match a built-in Tiffany-style stained-glass mural of blue and yellow flowers at the base of the stairs.

The foyer has muted yellow-and-white striped walls that continue up the stairs.

The home is furnished in "early attic furniture," said Swann, alluding to the mixture of antiques, family heirlooms and newer pieces.

In the dining room, the shelves surrounding two windows are home to books and Leigh's great aunt's tea cups.

"I like them because they are all different," she said. "They have more character."

In the dining room, "Bryce Canyon Red" walls are accentuated by white crown molding, which is actually two strips of molding running 10 1/2 inches apart with white paint in between, to give the illusion of one piece.

Damian chose the color, a sort of muted cranberry, because it reminded him of the Southwest where the couple went on their honeymoon.

The couple recycled fabric from their previous house, turning it into draperies, and recovered old office furniture.

"We reused as much as we could to save money," Leigh said. "It made it fit our budget more."

The view from the bay window at the rear of the house was so appealing that the Halstads turned the dining room into their living room.

In the living room, the couple had Naugahyde chairs recovered to match the print of the couch and draperies. There is a full bath off the living room.

The kitchen once sported worn carpeting and dark wood cabinets. Today, the room is much cheerier and is filled with whites and bright blues.

A wall of shelves holds delftware, echoing the faux Carlton Varney delft tile vinyl wallpaper along the back splash. The Halstads added a work island and updated the room with a coat of white paint on the solid wood cabinets, recessed lighting, new counter tops, with coordinating blue and white Waverly wallpaper and an Italian slate floor.

"It's very receptive to people coming in. We're very sociable," Leigh said. "The changes made it people-friendly."

The basement became Walker-friendly when the Halstads turned into a playroom, two offices and a mini-wine cellar.

"We love this room; it's a place for a kid to be a kid," Damian said of the playroom. In the Halstads' first home, Walker's toys were relegated to the dining room.

On the second floor is the master bedroom with green and white fern-patterned wallpaper and coordinating floral chintz draperies, which are being used for the third time.

"They went from Leigh's college apartment before she was married to their first house and now this home," Swann said. Adjacent to the bedroom is a sitting room with the Halstads' only television.

The second floor also contains Walker's room and a guest room. On the third floor, Vera Brutchertseifer, the couple's au pair, has her own private room and bathroom.

"Leigh and Damian both have always loved older houses, rather than new ones," Swann said. "Even from the time they were dating."

Nearly a decade later, the Halstads have found their ideal home.

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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