A chance encounter leads to a perfect fit Tour: A smart Realtor held an open house during a Butchers Hill neighborhood tour, and the couple was hooked.

Dream home

October 11, 1998|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Five years ago Paul and Diane Snyder decided to take the Butchers Hill neighborhood tour, and as they were going through the large, three-story houses, they fell in love with the area between Fells Point and Canton.

One house in the 2100 block of E. Pratt St., which wasn't part of the tour but where an open house was being held that day, captured their hearts.

"The Realtor was smart to be showing it during the tour, because we were in love with the area and wanted to find a place to live in it," said Paul.

In April 1994, about six months after that tour, they moved into the Pratt Street house.

Walking tour today

Today, between noon and 5 p.m., the first floor of the Snyders' house, along with more than a dozen other houses in the neighborhood near Patterson Park, will be open for a walking tour. The walking tour provides the neighborhood and its residents a chance to show its beauty and appeal to those who have never looked inside one of the houses.

That beauty and appeal was what led the Snyders to leave Carney, where they lived with their children in a new four-bedroom home, for the city.

"Since we've moved here, we've become more enamored with what it means to live in the city," said Paul, a lawyer whose practice is across the street from the house. He also serves as a hearing officer for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Registration.

His wife, who is a social worker for Baltimore County, says a reverse commute, which takes her north on Interstate 83 while most rush-hour motorists are heading south, is just one of the charms of their living arrangement.

"We saw a lot of possibilities in a house that was completely empty," he said, noting that the house had been vacant for about six months before they agreed to buy it for about $120,000.

Within hours of completing their settlement, the Snyders had a contractor removing a 36-inch-wide door to the parlor. What had served as a way to keep heat inside the parlor for decades made the room difficult to furnish, so the Snyders had the entrance from the hallway widened.

The result is an inviting entryway into the parlor, which is adorned with old family photos in gold frames and antique furniture collected from their families and from visits to shops and shows. Made more open by the two 8-foot bay windows, the room features an 11-foot, 6-inch ceiling, peach walls and a rust-colored trim.

The room is set off with a tall, dark-wood-framed mirror on the mantel of the closed-up fireplace.

As traditional as the parlor looks, the family room next to it -- the room where the Snyders spend most of their free time -- offers an even more inviting environment. Its less formal furniture and homemade shelves for a stereo system and compact discs suggest that visitors should put their feet up or pull a favorite CD off the shelf.

'Feel comfortable'

"When people come into our house, I want them to feel comfortable, at home, like they can be themselves, put their feet up on the coffee table. Even though it's a nice [table], it's only furniture. I want them to feel at home," said Diane, who provided most of the painting and decorating touches.

The color scheme of the first floor reflects her love of earth tones. The dining room, with its table made by the Potthas Co. in Baltimore more than 70 years ago, has apple-green walls and a Christmas-green trim.

"I just found the colors I liked, and it just sort of happened," she said. "I didn't really plan it. It just started in the hallway at the front door and worked its way through the house."

The family room demonstrates her free-painting style. She bought some cinnamon-colored paint for one wall. After she painted that wall with a brush, she kept going so that by the time her husband got home from work that day, she had painted all of the walls that color -- with a brush.

"I just got started and couldn't stop, so I just rolled over it with a second coat a few days later," she recalled.

Her husband completed most of the work inside, working in "spurts when we were in the mood," he said.

The strong foundation within the walls, including the plaster, caught him off guard the first time he looked at it. "It's just so much more sturdy than the newer houses are today," he said.

His work is not completed. Later this year, they plan to retile the add-on kitchen's floor, build a powder room on the first floor and complete the work on the second and third floors.

"Our goal is to have it completed by this time next year so we can show the whole thing," he said.

Pub Date: 10/11/98

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