10-year reclamation project

DREAM HOME

Victorian: Family antiques, painted screens and outdoor flowers grace a magical old house in Lutherville.

April 23, 2000|By Mary E. Medland | Mary E. Medland,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Patti Prugh and her husband, Michael Furman, moved into their Victorian home in Lutherville, they estimated that to fix up what was "a total wreck" would take about five years.

Ten years later, they've just about finished the job.

Originally a two-room summer home, the house was in dreadful disrepair, although the yard was an oasis of flora.

"In the spring, the yard is really beautiful," said Prugh. "Apparently a horticulturist lived here and the whole place is riddled with bulbs, including English hyacinths, daffodils, iris, and pink spider lilies, as well as other perennials, such as fox glove and daisies.

"At this time of the year, it's really a magical yard."

There is magic in the house, as well. Prugh, an art therapist with Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, has painted a few butterflies and some wandering vines on her kitchen floor. The stairway to the attic is decorated with a flowering mural that she and her two daughters created.

A front porch wraps halfway around one side of the house, and a smaller porch is in back. A full-length screen door was painted by the legendary Dee Herget, from whom Prugh took screen-painting lessons. After that, Prugh painted a couple of traditional screens for her dining room windows.

The couple did most of the renovation work themselves, said Prugh, with the exception of hiring contractors to do the ceilings. The house cost about $170,000, and she estimates that they have spent $40,000 to $50,000 in renovations, mostly for materials.

The kitchen, especially, was a disaster. "There were four layers of linoleum, which we tore up," she said. "There was the hideous fake red-brick linoleum and another sort of `Alice in Wonderland' black-and-white layer, which we couldn't save, and a couple of other layers.

"Below all of this we found the original wood."

However, since the look of the wood wasn't going to win any awards, Prugh pickled the floor with a whitewash stain and added her butterflies with oil paints.

The cabinet work was done by Furman, a space engineer for NASA. Today, the kitchen boasts light-blue cabinets and pale yellow walls, accented by cobalt blue canisters and glassware.

"Mike did the construction, and I did the decorating in the kitchen," said Prugh.

Furman also completely redid the decrepit bathroom. "He ripped everything out, including the clawfoot tub, and replaced everything with an all-marble bathroom," Prugh said.

Just off the kitchen, a powder room holds the family's washer and dryer. A fireplace had to be rebuilt, and the electrical system needed to be replaced. Yet virtually all of the home's original flooring was salvaged.

In keeping with the spirit of the house, Prugh has many family antiques. The drawing room has a couple of East Lake antique chairs, while the living room sports a Victorian rocker and chair that belonged to her great, great-grandfather. "There's also a lady's writing desk that my great-grandfather made for my great-grandmother," she adds.

While she purchases some of her antique pieces from consignment shops and antique shops, Prugh notes that she tries to acquire furniture from the Baltimore area. In other words, furniture that might have actually been in the house. Of course, there are finds too good to pass up, regardless of provenance, such as the antique trunk that she rescued from the sidewalk in New York's Soho district. More recent items include several paintings of her children by Washington artist Jocelyn Ball.

The family has coped with a lack of closet space by the judicious use of armoires throughout the house. One in the dining room holds table linens and china, including Prugh's great, great-grandmother's dishes.

On the second floor is the family's television room -- with a couple of new chairs from Scan, which one would swear were vintage Art Nouveau, and a couple of mirrored Art Deco tables. Prugh is in the process of painting an acrylic mural on the ceiling.

The master bedroom has several pieces of Lloyd Flanders wicker antique furniture and a loveseat that belonged to gangster Al Capone.

"It came from the billiard room of his house in Maine, where he ran a bootleg business," said Prugh. "One of my friends gave a couple of pieces to me, saying, `I know you'll appreciate these.'"

In one daughter's room, there is an enormous English armoire, which Prugh and her husband disassembled to get it up the stairs. Prugh has decorated walls and trim with sponged-on paint to create atmosphere. Her daughter's vintage hat collection adorns the walls, while a vintage piece of cloth stands sentry on a dress form. In the hall hangs an antique Victorian silk dress.

The guest bedroom has another of the Capone sofas. Since the velvet on both was badly worn, Prugh recovered them. "But I'm planning on converting the sofas back to velvet," she said.

Prugh got the bed in the guest room from "one of those old junk stores on Baltimore Street."

In the attic is a trunk room that the family uses for storage, the computer room and a bedroom.

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