Woodpeckers pecked here Country air: The Wilsons' house is so country that the foyer bears the marks of a hungry woodpecker.

Dream Home

October 25, 1998|By Adele Evans | Adele Evans,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After living in apartments and ranchers most of their lives, Robert Wilson and Christine Roppelt-Wilson wanted authentic, country atmosphere -- and they got it, right down to woodpecker pecks in the foyer's paneling.

Their "classic farmhouse," which really was once part of a farm, sits on a half-acre in Carney, nestled behind giant maple trees, hedges and flowers that have been there as long as the 90-year-old home.

Tall windows, gables and rich red tones add to the home's rural feel. Two outbuildings remain in the back yard. The smokehouse is a toolshed now, shaded by purple wisteria and enhanced by a trickling pond that the Wilsons built with nearby stones.

A sizable old chicken coop near the garage also is used for storage -- and might be converted into a pool house one day. In the meantime, the coop has proven to be a treasure trove of old bottles, tools and collectibles.

Though just 10 years shy of its 100th birthday, the house did not require major structural work, but the Wilsons have spent many hours wallpapering, decorating, cleaning, painting, updating bathrooms and landscaping -- and they have plenty yet to do.

It took a lot of looking to find the right house at the right price. Wilson, an independent graphic designer, finally struck gold last winter when he was driving through the neighborhood. Determined to find the right home, he had taken countless drives through the Loch Raven area (one of their favorites), and finally hit pay dirt on Old Harford Road. He saw the for-sale sign, was hooked and called his wife at work to tell her the news.

Christine Roppelt-Wilson, who works in the information systems and quality assurance department of T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., was almost afraid to look because the price was a bit out of their range and they had been disappointed in the past. But when they walked through the door, they were sold. They bought it in February for $164,000.

"We wanted character, something older, that didn't look like every other house," Robert Wilson said. "We didn't want the prefab look. When I walked in, I didn't have to go farther than the living room."

The wood floors, barn-siding paneling and beams, stippled plaster walls and ceilings are still in prime condition. In some places of the foyer, the century-old barn-siding panels are an inch thick. "We have a termite plan," he quipped.

The foyer and living room are bigger than they used to be. That's because the former owner tore down a wraparound porch and moved the walls outward.

Roppelt-Wilson said she doesn't miss having a family room because of the spaciousness of the living area. One of the highlights of the downstairs is a large, handmade stone fireplace that bows outward from the wall.

"The neighbors told us that smoke came through the patches [in the chimney] when we first started the fire," she said. Today, the fireplace works perfectly and her husband says it reminds him of being at a country inn.

On the way down to the cellar, Roppelt-Wilson has created a montage of items found around the property: fencing, horseshoes, an old picture frame, a jar, tools and flowers. Descending through formidable, black-shutter cellar doors, guests can see the old stone foundation that abuts the washing machine and storage shelves.

Both kitchen and formal dining room are spacious. The kitchen is done in knotty pine, with punched tin adornments on the cabinets. Additional built-in cabinets and bookcases give ample storage.

The dining room, done in soft white with a built-in china closet and fireplace, adds modern elegance. Topping off the room is a solid brass and crystal chandelier they found in Ellicott City. They've already held a dinner for 12 and an indoor-outdoor event for 100.

"We knew we wanted to be safe, have room and a big yard," he said. "We wanted a big, old home that kids could go crazy in."

Renovation expenses have reached about $5,000.

"I can do anything in a house," Robert Wilson said. "But you never know what's behind the walls. The walls were a nightmare. They weren't Sheetrock, like today's walls, but plaster and lattice."

When he ripped out bathroom walls to get to the 2-by-4 framing, not only did he have to break through the tough plaster, but he also had to get rid of hundreds of nails on the old latticework.

"It was a mess," she said. "There were bags and bags of plaster and nails."

Three upstairs bedrooms continue the country motif. From the guest bedroom on the elevated lot, one can see boats on the Chesapeake Bay.

The attic may one day be converted into Robert Wilson's art studio. Also on the wish list are the pool, a sun room off the kitchen and a new driveway. The driveway may take time, however. One estimate was for $10,000 -- and that was from a good friend.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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