David Gundersen's home is one of 26 townhouses on a quiet northern Baltimore County cul-de-sac.
Georgian in style, all boast brick construction (some natural, some pastel-painted) with shutters on wide windows in muted colors. Many of the entrances are crowned with an arched window over the front door, creating an old world feel. Each home faces a central wooded green of pine and spruce. The overall effect is charmingly uniform - typical of a James Keelty and Co. design of the late 1970s - in the neighborhood of Mays Chapel Village South.
The uniformity ends at Gundersen's entrance hall.
"This is a modest townhome," he says of his 1,900-square-foot home. "But there's no reason why it can't be extraordinary inside."
Indeed. The interior is embellished in English country, that of a gentleman's retreat. The bright, split foyer presents access to the main level as well as the lower-level walkout. Climbing the few marbled steps to a hallway spanning half the length of the home's 44 feet, visitors are greeted by painted walls as well as crown molding at the ceilings and along the open room entranceways. The kitchen, to the immediate left, is seen through closed French doors with beveled glass.
The rear of this level, with its northwest exposure, comprises the living room.
A corner fireplace of green marble with a dark wood mantel provides contrast in a room painted in a soft shade of celery. The room is oddly shaped, featuring five corners. Gundersen, 50, says the furniture, a mix of near antiques, great reproductions and newer pieces, was all purchased at Great Finds and Design, an area store owned by decorator friend Camille Quillen. She calls his home the "bachelor pad with class."
Scale is important in the house to avoid a crowding effect. Gundersen's mahogany breakfront, on the northern wall, houses his antique leather-bound book collection. A pastel Empire-design sofa with a low back is placed on a diagonal and faces the fireplace. All of the furniture rests on white wall-to-wall carpeting.
Seated in the southern corner of the room, in a 40-year-old Ethan Allen black leather wing chair (his favorite reading spot), Gundersen is able to look out to his deck. This addition extends along the home's 20-foot width and backs to a wooded area. He speaks practically of his $145,000 purchase and the subsequent furnishings.
"I have traveled a lot," he says, "and I have always enjoyed high-end hotels. [They were] the inspiration in having my home space sumptuous."
Gundersen said he considered the home's original white walls a bare palette that offered many possibilities. His dining room, for example, presented an opportunity for elegant, formal entertaining. The walls, painted in Chinese red, are capped with hand-applied rope molding, while pilaster columns were added to the entrance. A brass chandelier, with dark pleated shades, hangs from a faux plaster medallion ceiling cap. A Baker table, a Charleston reproduction of mahogany with inlaid burled wood, takes center stage in the room.
Original oils and watercolors hang throughout the house. Most striking is the large painting of English pointers over the fireplace. A first-floor powder room carries a country and Chinese influence with floral gold wallpaper and a mahogany bamboo framed mirror.
Gundersen considers the second level his homey domain. The master suite, facing the rear of the house, showcases a mahogany framed bed from the Empire period and is placed on hunter green carpeting facing the large window and trees beyond. An 80-year-old English cherry armoire is marked by the maker, James Shoolbred & Co. of Tottenham House, London.
In the front of the second level, Gundersen turned two small bedrooms into one large office space. There, he works at his business, a metal work machinery distributorship that he took over from his father. The office has modern decor and features recessed lighting through double-door access.
The basement, or lower level, carries an "Out of Africa" theme, as Gundersen puts it. Stuffed deer and pheasant hang on dark paneled walls. A leather inlaid game table invites a Scrabble match, while a large-screen TV provides further entertainment. Through sliding doors, a slate patio leads outside. The guest bath on this level is carpeted in leopard print.
Upstairs in the kitchen, Gundersen boasts of achieving a fabulous look for little money. Double-framed Pella windows are decorated with chintz cafe curtains from the 1940s. A window seat is covered with plaid pillows that match the chairs grouped around a glass pedestal table. Green-and-beige striped wallpaper contrasts with white laminate cabinets and black appliances. A single piece of white vinyl flooring completes the bright picture.
Gundersen estimates he has invested about $40,000 in the home's improvement, which includes new doors, deck, painting and molding and the master bath redesign.
"People say I'm overimproving," he acknowledges, "but it's my house, and I enjoy the improvement process."