Carroll couple build a house in the woods


Tree house: Bill and Maureen Norton chose a design that blends into its wooded surroundings.

March 07, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In October 1999, Maureen and Bill Norton purchased 9 wooded acres in Finksburg.

The former Bowie residents were delighted with their sylvan surroundings nestled off Route 91 near Glyndon. The property, once owned by former television personality Susan White-Bowden, offered the couple the challenge of building a home that would blend well with the surroundings.

"We wanted something that would fit with the woods," remembers Maureen Norton, 60, a special education coordinator in the Prince George's County school system.

"We also wanted one-floor living," says Bill Norton, also 60, a service manager for Xerox Corp.

Both were able to visualize the inside of their dream home before it was built. They pictured a contemporary design that would include traditional living and dining rooms. They imagined a great room with large windows looking out on the trees, a loft area for guests, and cozy nooks and corners throughout.

The land cost the couple $125,000. They spent an additional $375,000 to build the home.

Carroll County builder Robin Ford started to build what Maureen Norton calls a French Country design in February 2002. Seven months later, the Nortons settled into their three-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath, 5,500-square-foot home.

A circular asphalt driveway merges with a flagstone walkway and porch. The home has a two-story center section capped with a pointed roof. Wings flanking the center section also have pointed roofs. Maureen Norton calls them her "three peaks."

White vinyl siding, faux cedar shake and dark metal eaves form a porch overhang. The blue front door opens to a center hall with a light vinyl floor that resembles marble.

Formal living and dining rooms flank the entrance. The great room is straight ahead, occupying the back of the center section and facing west.

Along the rear wall of the great room, builders placed 10 windows that rise 21 feet to the ceiling. Opposite and perpendicular to the windows is a loft that surrounds the rest of the home.

The walls throughout the house are painted a creamy beige shade called magnolia. Floor and crown molding, including wainscoting in the dining room, are a soft white.

During a recent visit, Bill Norton sat in an orange and navy upholstered wing chair. His wife sat on a greenish-gray, micro-fiber sectional sofa. The room also has a wood-burning stove in front of the windows.

The builder "kept our interior open, as we wanted, and included many arches from room to room," Bill Norton says. "There is an unobstructed view of 20 to 30 feet wherever you look. Even my garage is 24 feet by 24 feet."

North of the great room, the Nortons' kitchen features a wraparound Formica counter in soft green and black, which complements the light green, marble-like vinyl flooring.

A stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator and freezer and a double oven unit present a sleek appearance against textured wallpaper in beige, green and white.

A screened porch sits off the kitchen.

The Nortons recently spent "at least $15,000" on new kitchen appliances, better vinyl flooring and other upgrades. One of the cozy nooks is in a pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room. She has placed a solid mahogany sideboard there, an antique she found at a shop in Southern Maryland.

Another comfortable cranny lies between the living room and great room on the south side of the house. In a space separated by arches, she has placed a Chinese mahogany chest and an occasional chair. Framed needlework pieces in soft pastels adorn the wall.

The living room and a reading room just west of it share a gas fireplace. Lighted bookshelves line the walls above and beside the mantle in the reading room. Soft, cream-colored carpeting is carried throughout the room into the master bedroom, where another nook contains an old-fashioned, three-mirrored vanity before opening to walk-in closets.

Another priority for the Nortons was the loft for overnight guests. Two bedrooms there share a bathroom. An office area in the northwest corner includes a rose-colored sofa and side chair, a desk unit, more of Maureen Norton's needlework and framed pictures sitting on a side table.

The Nortons count their blessings - and good fortune - to have their home in the woods. Even more so with their son, his wife and their two children as neighbors just over the hill from their front yard.

"That," says Bill Norton nodding toward his son's house, "is a big part of our dream."

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