Cozy castle with a view has secret inside walls


Waterfront: A charming home of granite, glass, steel and wood is the result of a two-year labor of love.

May 02, 2004|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The new home of Jim and Susie Snyder is a contemporary study in granite, glass and steel overlooking Lake Ogleton in Bay Ridge near Annapolis.

One of the couple's favorite features in the 4,500-square-foot house is a secret passage. Hidden within a wall of built-in bookcases is a panel that opens between Jim Snyder's office - he's a financial adviser for Legg Mason who sometimes works at home - and his wife's office/library.

"It helps him keep track of me when I'm buried in a book," Susie Snyder says with a smile.

The Snyders' new home, appraised at more than $2 million, is built on property once owned by Jim Snyder's parents. The house took two years to build and combines the latest technology, open space and the water setting to make it the Snyders' dream home.

Adapting the construction to the waterfront lot provided challenges. Waterfront construction must adhere to the state's building restrictions by staying within the footprint of the original structure.

Fortunately for the Snyders, his father had added a carport to his small beach cottage during the 1960s. That expansion helped when it came time for the new house, which replaced the old one.

Annapolis architect Chip Bohl based his plan for the house on an arc between two gabled wings.

The main body of the house curves toward the water, and the outer walls are staggered to provide corner windows with full water views that include the lake, a marina on the water's far side and a sliver of the bay that is visible through the trees and boat masts in the distance.

The arc also provides a feeling of privacy in the back yard, Jim Snyder says.

Granite is a design element throughout the house and dictated the shades of blue-gray in the roof, siding, exterior trim and some interior trim. A granite pathway leads to the front door and the stone flooring in the entry. From there, the granite moves across one side of the living room to the fireplace. This hearth is the first of four openings in the two-story granite chimney.

Granite columns across the front facade - visible inside and out - are part of the support system for the free-floating staircase of solid maple treads and geometric steel balusters.

Interior walls are creamy white except for a pop of terracotta in Susie Snyder's office on the first floor.

All the walls are foils for the soft white maple floors, beams and built-in cabinetry.

Soaring ceilings in the living room are brought comfortably to earth by a furniture grouping that includes a leather sofa and club chairs arranged around a marble and antique brass coffee table. Anchored by an oriental area rug in Susie Snyder's favorite deep greens, browns and reds, the setting includes the water view, the fireplace and the built-in entertainment center.

The living area opens to the dining room, the sunroom and the kitchen. The all-electric kitchen includes two-tone maple custom cabinets and a deep green Silestone-topped island.

Window treatments are kept to a minimum. Natural light enters through triangular windows in the open rafters of the game room, which sits off the dining room.

The two-story chimney houses two fireplaces that provide double openings. One fireplace opens into the living room at floor level and Susie Snyder's library/office. The second-floor fireplace opens into the living room space and an upstairs guest bedroom. There, the hearth is glass, allowing sunlight to flow to the office below.

With four bedrooms and six bathrooms, the house is as accommodating for a crowd as it is for two. The Snyders recently played host to 11 overnight guests. One of the bedrooms, nicknamed the dormitory because of its large size, housed a family of five.

The house has two laundry rooms. A basement space includes a computerized washer and dryer. Another laundry room is adjacent to the master bathroom and walk-in closet.

Bathrooms throughout the house have distinct features.

The master bath has an overflow bathtub, one tub inside another to collect any overflow. The dormitory bathroom has a massage tub; another bathroom has a steam shower.

Another distinctive feature is that tap water is available in most places where someone is likely to wish for it - the kitchen sink, the master bathroom, the refrigerator icemaker and the bar sink in the game room. It is filtered by a reverse-osmosis system.

One of Jim Snyder's favorite modern conveniences is the instant hot water tap in the master bathroom. "It's great to have coffee right there," he says.

The house provides a welcoming place for the Snyders' two sons, two daughters-in-law and their baby grandson, Owen. But, the house was built with an eye to tomorrow.

Grasp bars were installed in all baths and showers, and an elevator is available. There's a guest bedroom with a full bath and sitting area that could provide a living space for a caregiver. "In case we live here to the end," Susie Snyder says.

"When you walk into the house, the reaction is always, `Wow,'" says Sue Snyder, whose husband, John, is Jim Snyder's brother. "I heard John and Jim's dad say so many times, `Don't let this get out of the family.' He would be thrilled."

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