Moving back after business moved her out


Reversal: A Howard County woman returns to the home her business took over, turning it into a peaceful place of comfort and ease.

September 16, 2001|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Kara Brook moved out of her Ellicott City house to allow more space for her interactive marketing firm, she moved to a new condominium nearby.

But after two years, she decided to reverse the situation. The business was moved out and she returned to her 1930s cottage with a deeper appreciation of its solid construction.

"With today's construction, you can hear everything that's going on next to you," said Brook. "I really enjoy the peace and quiet this house offers. And I enjoy having my own space."

For the past 14 years, Brook has slowly remodeled and renovated each room.

"I try to put a little of myself into every room of the house," she said. "I love to take weekends and go on finds. I could tell you so many stories about finding pieces. And I love to combine old pieces with new. "

That has been her philosophy in decorating the house as well as in redesigning it.

She bought her Ellicott City house for $165,000 with her then-fiance.

Although her fiance wasn't a keeper, the house was.

The house is on land that was once a nursery. Still standing is an 80-foot holly tree and a beautiful white birch.

Until a few years ago, the land surrounding the house was mostly farmland. Now there are two new housing developments, but it would take more than that to prompt Brook to move.

"The only thing I liked about the house was the floor plan and the location," said Brook, who originally bought the house intending to renovate it. "So I figured the two most important things were in place. I can't see myself living anywhere else. I'm perfectly content here."

Brook handled the majority of cosmetic additions and repairs herself, including most of the landscaping. But she did hire professional help to assist with other renovations.

Some of the major repairs included enclosing a screened-in porch and refinishing the hardwood floors. The central air conditioning, plumbing and wiring were in good shape when she moved in.

"It feels like a new home," she said.

While a price can't be placed on sweat-equity, she estimated that the renovations cost $75,000.

The kitchen was the first room to be remodeled, at a cost of $15,000. Brook started in the kitchen because it was the most important room to her.

"I love to cook. I have dinner parties often, and even today, everybody still ends up in the kitchen," she said. "It's the only place in the house that is central to life and living."

The front door opens to a formal living room with original fireplace. A step down leads a visitor to a formal dining room.

Around the corner is the kitchen that opens to another dining area and a casual living room that was converted from the screened-in porch. The living room is surrounded with several windows but the centerpiece is a gas fireplace.

"This room is very light but at the same time very private. In the winter when the snow is coming down and the fireplace is on, I love it here."

A bedroom was converted into an open area that also serves as an office between two other bedrooms.

One bedroom serves as the master bedroom while the other is for guests. Both have bathrooms.

The open area also leads to a patio that Brook describes as her "outdoor room." Here she comes to relax, read and even enjoy meals.

Designed by a professional landscaper, the patio is completely screened off by shrubbery.

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