Staying put is the answer for one family


November 01, 1998|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Toby Gordon and Bruce Kaup love the Colonial home they bought 11 years ago in Roland Park. "We're comfortable here," Gordon said. "We're here to stay," Kaup added.

The two are so content in their house it's hard to imagine that a few years ago the married couple considered selling it for a larger home.

They were living in a condominium in the Village of Cross Keys, and it took a yearlong search before they found the house. "We had almost given up looking and were just going to stay where we were, when we came across a small ad in the paper for this place," Gordon said.

When the couple saw the house, they knew their search was over. "The house had a lot of personality," Gordon said. In particular, she was attracted to the welcoming, large screened-in porch at the back of the house.

Both liked the city location and proximity to Stony Run Park. "It's more interesting to live in the city," Kaup said.

"This is such a diverse neighborhood," Gordon said. "We have doctors and lawyers, writers and artists. Young people, older people, and people with children all living together. I like that."

The home is also close to where they work. Gordon is vice president of planning and marketing at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is a member of the faculty there. Kaup is a psychiatrist for the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

When their sons, Brett and Drew, 8 and 6, were born, the couple liked the home even more. "This is a great neighborhood for children," Gordon said.

"The kids really like it here," Kaup added.

But with growing boys, the charming house that was bought for two was starting to feel a little cramped. From the beginning, the home needed some work.

In the first year, the couple painted, added a powder room (the house had only one bathroom) and they added central air conditioning. Later, the basement was converted from a dark, damp room used for storage to a playroom/guest room.

The couple then added a two-story addition off the back of the house, with an upstairs study for Kaup and a small dining area and family room downstairs.

The family loved the addition. Maybe too much, Gordon said, because they would congregate in the one small room.

So the family started looking for a bigger and better house. "I wanted a center hall, a big bathroom for me, an attached garage and flat, outdoor play space for the boys," she said.

The search went on for more than a year. Gordon couldn't find what she wanted. The family looked at new homes. "They didn't seem to be built as well as our house," she said. They looked at older homes, which were "too big," she said.

Then Gordon realized what she was looking for.

"What I wanted was everything that I have here. Everything that I like, plus more," she said.

"It would be less expensive to renovate than what we would pay in closing costs on a new home. So I said, 'Let's just do it.' "

So they called the contractors again.

This time, the plan was to enclose the porch, expand the family room and add a deck. Kaup's upstairs study would be sacrificed for his wife's new, larger bathroom, but he would gain a downstairs study to be built off the basement playroom/guest room. The boys would get a basketball court in the back yard.

As construction progressed, Gordon realized she might have made a mistake. The deck was built and the expanded family room was partially framed. "I kept imagining the layout of the room and realized it was too small," she said.

So she decided to enlarge the room another 4 feet, making the new family room 8 feet by 18 feet and taking some space off the deck. The porch was moved from the back to the side of the house.

In the end, "everybody would get what they wanted," Gordon said. Her new bathroom wasn't just any old bathroom. "I call it my spa/office," she said.

The room is equipped with a large whirlpool tub, a two-line phone with conference-call capability, a color television with cable and a videocassette recorder, a dressing area and space to exercise. Even the lights above the tub were adjusted to the right angle. "I told the contractor, I need to be able to read in the tub," she said.

As for Kaup, he likes his new downstairs and traditional office. "It's more private. I have a good view of the park and it's quieter down there," he said.

There were some compromises -- no enclosed garage or center hallway. But the family is happy with the improved home.

The house was purchased for $179,000 and almost $80,000 was spent on renovations. It was recently appraised for $300,000.

Gordon says the house is complete, but then again, "there's always something else we could do."

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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