The furnishings can wait

DREAM HOME

Decorating: Even though they've lived in their large Annapolis home for two years, the McGraths have been in no hurry to furnish it.

April 07, 2002|By Liz Steinberg | Liz Steinberg,SUN STAFF

When Michael and Tricia McGrath built their 6,000-square- foot Annapolis home two years ago, it was apparent they wanted space. Enough space to raise a family.

And now that the two-story Colonial is built and the decorating is under way, the family has begun: The couple's first child, Reagan, was born Feb. 28.

"We built this house with the plans and expectations that it would be a house to raise our family in," said Michael McGrath, a 31-year-old advertising department manager for The Washington Times. Right now, "the dust is still settling and we're still getting acclimated to our baby."

In fact, Reagan's room, decorated in yellow with ballerina motifs, is one of the few in the house fully finished.

"I guess that kind of illustrates who rules the house," her dad said.

However, given the McGraths' decorating philosophy, it's no surprise that Tricia McGrath, a 30-year-old finance department employee for U.S. Foodservice in Columbia, says the process will never be done. They decided not to "buy everything real quick just to fill the house," her husband said.

So while the walls are covered with Ralph Lauren paint and custom-designed wallpaper and the windows are adorned with 3 1/2 -inch white wood plantation shutters, several rooms still await furniture and other fixings.

Case in point: The McGraths' king-size bed is covered by her old twin bedspread because the couple haven't finished the 860- square-foot master bedroom.

However, they're hardly surprised. The couple put space at a premium when picking their new home. The Annapolis house "afforded us a larger space to be able to decorate on a more grand scale," he said.

The first house the couple purchased in Arnold - three months into their nearly seven-year marriage - was about 1,600 square feet, he said. For the master suite to be more than half the size of that entire house is "almost like a dream come true," he said.

The house, about 300 yards from South River in the 200 block of Ebb Point Lane, is in the Wind- swept community off Riva Road. The lot is slightly larger than a half-acre, which Michael McGrath considers big for Annapolis. The back yard faces protected woodland, and light pours into the kitchen and back bedroom windows in the morning.

Originally purchased for just over $400,000, the home's value has appreciated to $624,000 after a $45,000 investment in home improvements including patios, decking and landscaping.

"We [had been looking] at new construction for about a year when we found this home," Tricia McGrath said. Her husband had wanted to live in western Howard County, but given the option of "sailboats vs. tractors," she preferred the urban conveniences of the Annapolis harbor.

They live within two miles of a Merritt Athletic Club, a Giant Food store, a Fresh Fields and Westfield Shopping-town, formerly Annapolis Mall.

"I just love Annapolis," said Tricia McGrath, a native of the city. "I grew up on the water."

The location proved wise: "I travel a fair amount for my job, and I'm hard-pressed to find an area I like more," her husband said.

The 28-by-16-foot kitchen, which adjoins the family room, attracted Tricia McGrath, who likes cooking and entertaining. The couple played host to both their families on Thanksgiving and Christmas, serving sit-down meals for 18 and 30, respectively.

Because the kitchen looks out over the family room, she will be able to watch her children as she works. The couple plan to have two or three children, they said.

Two staircases lead to the second floor. One of the two guest bedrooms, which the family calls the "golf" bedroom, is decorated around a photo of Sam Snead, the golfer, who autographed it for Michael McGrath. That room is connected to Reagan's room by a bathroom, decorated in yellow.

Behind the kitchen is the 16-by-28-foot deck, which with its synthetic Trex wood-polymer planks and its white vinyl railings, is "completely maintenance free," he said.

"My wife insisted on white railing, and I'll be darned if I'd be out there painting every year," he added.

Stairs lead down to a stone patio underneath the deck, which is bordered by landscaping.

Although the couple scoured antique shops "from Haymarket to Hunt Valley," they wound up purchasing "new reproductions of old things," he said, including a pair of Italian baroque chests and a grandfather clock for the partially open foyer.

However, the couple did invest in two antique Indian rugs, which are the centerpieces of the living and dining rooms.

Tricia McGrath, currently on maternity leave, said she hopes to have the opportunity to decorate and finish the basement in time for Reagan's christening in May.

"It might not be finished, but that's my goal," she said.

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