Tuscan air, a splash of Caribbean


Retreat: Monkton couple incorporates fieldstone, marble and water so that they feel they're always on holiday.

January 04, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ruth Mierzwicki leads the way from her double-door front entrance, through a cinnamon-colored foyer and into the circular, open layout of her Monkton home.

A glassed-in north wing is beyond the living room where her tropical paradise awaits.

Here, a 16-by-40-foot indoor pool is framed in limestone and surrounded by sandstone blocks. Wicker easy chairs sit on the deck, along with a bar area, wrought iron table and chairs, a jukebox and several plants.

Waterfall in pool

A waterfall gurgles in the northeast corner of the pool, while the living room stereo system pipes music throughout the 82-degree climate-controlled space.

"I love to be around the water, and to have friends in," said the 66-year-old owner of Island Treasures Gift Baskets. "In the summer, we open the place up."

Her husband, Tony Mierzwicki, 65, a marketing consultant for Acadia Windows & Doors, explains that the pool operates on an ozone system. The system requires no chlorine and allows the pine-framed doors leading into their bedroom, living room and dining area to be open without the fear of odor, or damage to the distressed pine floor and window frames throughout the home's 3,260 square feet.

The Mierzwickis, who have been married for 36 years, lead the way from the eastern portion of their home through sliding-glass doors and into their bedroom.

The room temperature drops to a more winter-like feel.

"[Tuscany] was in my head after a visit to Italy, and that is what I wanted for this house," Ruth Mierzwicki said.

2nd level for guests

Her husband adds that their custom-designed home was built to those specifications two years ago. A light-colored, faux fieldstone exterior contrasts with rust-colored, multipaned windows dressed with dark-gray shutters.

The couple wanted a one-floor dwelling, but a second level contains a guest suite for visits from children and grandchildren.

The couple built the home for $699,099 and spent an additional $2,500 for a deck on the northwest side of the house. Ruth Mierzwicki said the home recently was appraised at $775,000.

The couple knew what they wanted, and were willing to pay the price for their dream to "always feel like we're on vacation."

They were adamant about the colors of the walls throughout. For example, the bedroom features a soft, sage-green mixed with sand for a country, textured effect.

Recessed lighting over the bed spotlights a heavy coverlet in brown, coral and blue mosaic print. It offers a tropical effect.

South of the bedroom is a twin dressing area in lighter sage green, complete with his-and-her vanities. A double archway leads the way to the master bath, done in tumbled marble and boasting twin sinks and vanities on opposite sides of the room. All countertops are graced in light, tumbled marble.

No windows in the home are covered in drapery. Privacy is provided by the 1.5 acres surrounding the home and the horse farm that fronts the property.

The Tuscan theme is most evident in the living area of the home.

The Mierzwickis chose a butterscotch yellow for the walls, giving an earthy feel and contrasted with an olive-hued, lambskin wraparound sofa featuring three built-in recliners. A large gas fireplace, 10 feet high by 9 feet, and in the same faux fieldstone as the home's exterior, graces the living and dining areas. The couple's dining table was handmade of pegged, distressed maple. Four chairs on one side face a long bench on the other for large events.

Friend Marilyn Thompson finds the home warm and tasteful.

"It's very down-to-earth," she said, "like Tony and Ruth."

The kitchen area includes more tumbled marble and the cabinets are maple and covered in dark cherry. The appliances are of stainless steel. A window over the kitchen sink looks out on the horses and the front lawn, which includes a stone wall taken from a Civil War-period structure in Howard County.

A few steps west of the kitchen is the double-arched foyer at the front of the house. A large wood wine rack, built to accommodate 360 bottles, rests in a nook. A three-framed, wrought iron room divider with faux grapes draping on the cutout work completes the Italian country theme.

"When I'm in this house, I'm in Italy," Ruth Mierzwicki said, "[and] when I'm out by the pool, I'm in the Caribbean."

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