`A match made in heaven'


Rowhouse: For the cost of renting an apartment, Clyde Smith has become a very satisfied homeowner.

March 17, 2002|By Liz Steinberg | Liz Steinberg,SUN STAFF

When Clyde William Smith was ready to move out of his parents' house, he didn't rent. He bought. And when the 30-year-old preschool teacher at William S. Baer School in Baltimore saw the brick rowhouse in Edmondson Heights, it was love at first sight.

"It was the first one I looked at, and it was on the market for one day," said Smith. "It was kind of like a match made in heaven."

Smith purchased the 1956 house in June and moved in in August. For him, owning a home has been a lifelong dream.

As a child, "I just thought it was the most wonderful thing in the whole world, just having a house," Smith said.

Smith is close to his extended family, most of which lives nearby, and with the help of his parents he decided buying was better than renting.

He had lived with his parents while attending college, completing a bachelor's and two master's degrees. He has been teaching for six years.

"I got a lot of things out of the way" before moving out, he said, adding that friends have commented that his home is set up like that of his parents.

Smith paid $97,900 for his rowhouse on Kirkwood Road, a quiet suburban street with trim lawns and mature trees. The house cost a bit more than similar houses on the market, but it was in good condition, and Smith didn't have to make immediate repairs or improvements.

"I really didn't have to do anything but move into it," he said.

Smith had considered moving into an apartment in Owings Mills that, although smaller, rented for the cost of his monthly house payments.

Compared with other, more expensive houses in Howard County or Baltimore's trendy Canton neighborhood, he said, "this is probably the best dollar-for-dollar" investment he could make.

In Baltimore County, less than a half-mile from the city line, the house is around the corner from U.S. 40 and the Baltimore Beltway. Edmonson Heights is a lively, family-centered neighborhood, said Smith.

There are "a lot of young people who are moving in and a lot of old people who are staying," he said, noting that the community organization is very strong.

Smith's family was as excited as he was about his purchase of a home and full of decorating suggestions.

"Everybody had so much to say ... so I did a lot of [shopping] by myself," said Smith, who said he enjoyed making his own decorating decisions. And shop he did. Other than a few pieces of family furniture, "the oldest thing in the house is 6 months old," he said.

"I liked things that were very modern, and I liked things that were very clean-looking," he said. He drew inspiration from Metropolitan Home, a magazine that bills itself as "the young, urban professional's forum for current style and decorating ideas and trends."

The front door opens to Smith's living room, a showpiece he designed to reflect a mix of contemporary and classic styles.

A black-and-gray-patterned sofa is the centerpiece of the 16-by-15-foot room. Three mirrors with broad, silver frames adorn the wall above two black chairs and two oversized fabric roses in a tall glass vase.

The carpet and walls are neutral tones, and a faux brick fireplace remains from the previous owners. "It's corny, but it works," Smith said.

The apple motif in his kitchen alludes to his career as a teacher. Apple-patterned curtains hang from the windows, and an apple clock and three-dimensional apple artwork adorn the wall.

The family room was the home's main selling point for Smith. A round table is set for eight with floral plates and gold-plated flatware for a multicourse meal, and a table along the wall serves as a buffet. He likes entertaining, and when he played host to his family's most recent Thanksgiving dinner, his uncle compared the atmosphere to that of a restaurant.

The walkout basement leads to a fenced back yard with a small patio and a stately tree.

Orange floral wallpaper remains in the dining room and on the second floor from the previous owners. Smith would have taken it out immediately had it not been for home furnishings salespeople who advised him to wait a month before making any major changes.

"A lot of things grew on me," he said. acknowledging that he has expanded his decorating style as a result of the advice. The only thing he removed was the "awful" silver-and-blue foil wallpaper in the master bedroom.

Bear motifs adorn Smith's bedroom and the guest bedroom, a play on the name of his workplace. His grandmother's furniture fills the rose-hued guest bedroom. A third bedroom is used for storage.

Smith dismisses any thoughts of moving, saying, "I think I'll be right here ... until I hit the lottery or get married."

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