Balto. County home a haven for treasures

DREAM HOME

Dwelling: Copious light and a circular layout attracted Sandy Stellmann to her home at the Cloisters of Charles.

September 26, 2004|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Sandy Stellmann moved to a 4,800-square-foot Georgian-style home in Baltimore County five years ago, even though many people her age are scaling back when it comes to housing.

"I grew up in a large house," the 61-year-old says, referring to her former Roland Park home. "I love different rooms to go in and out of, and I wanted a place for all of my furniture."

Twice widowed and with grown children in homes of their own, Stellmann settled at the Cloisters at Charles, a condominium community off Charles Street, blocks from the city line. Her two-story brick home is one of a few single-family dwellings among winding courts of townhouses.

"I loved the light in the house, and its circular layout," Stellmann remembered of her first visit.

As the third owner of the 10 year-old property, the retired language teacher paid $450,000 for the four-bedroom, 3 1/2 -bath home. It includes a two-story entrance hall, a cathedral-ceiling family room, two staircases to the second level and a den.

Although the house required no major work, she invested about $10,000 in ceiling fans, window treatments and hiring interior painters. The home is filled with furniture and treasures from two marriages and from her childhood home. It also contains a collection of memorabilia from her world travels.

Stellmann welcomes guests into her entrance hall, which faces east. Sunlight floods the area through a Palladian window above a front door flanked by vertical paned windows.

A winding oak staircase to the second level defines the boundaries of the hall on the west. Hundred-year-old floral tapestries that belonged to her great-grandmother hang on the north and south walls.

The home's circular flow from room to room is evident from the hall. Stellmann walks past the den, which is adjacent to the entrance area, and heads toward the great room in the southwest corner of the home, which she says is her favorite part of the house.

The room is 21 by 20 feet but appears larger because of a ceiling that rises two stories and three large windows on the south wall. The west wall also includes six double sets of windows. Hanging from each window are pale green silk shades. These coverings, along with large potted plants and walls that are painted a seashell color, contribute to a tropical, conservatory-like theme.

No wall space has been left unadorned here. Several paintings depicting flowers and foliage are coordinated with brightly colored animal masks that Stellmann obtained in Africa.

The second story's north wall is dominated by a Berber wall hanging in shades of blue and orange. It is a souvenir from a trip to Morocco, Stellmann says. A plush lion rests on an overhang near an upper corner window, appearing, she says, "to be gazing way out into northern Baltimore County."

Brass elephants in varied shapes and sizes are on the fireplace mantel and on a teakwood table in front of a six-paneled, carved oak screen that Stellmann's second husband bought in China.

A 15-by-10-foot tapestry carpet sits on hardwood flooring. Its floral pattern, in muted shades of green, pink and blue, enhances two tuxedo-style sofas that are upholstered in a softly diffused garden print.

"I thought I'd feel lost here, but it's just not so," Stellmann says. "I have so much of myself around me."

Longtime friend and traveling companion, Peggi Powell agrees.

"I think her house is like a fabulous museum," she says. "When I'm there, I always discover something with a history attached to it."

A striking feature in Stellmann's kitchen, which occupies the rear center of the home, is the contrast of polished, bleached cabinetry with hanging copper and brass. More than a dozen pots, pans, and colanders hang above a center island that includes a built-in stove. Copper molds in various shapes and styles cover the west wall, and brass elephants and bears rest on the counter and windowsill over the sink. Copper trivets, many ornately cut, are hung above the cabinets.

North of the kitchen and winding around to the front of the home, Stellmann's living and dining rooms reflect a formal style.

A reproduction of a Chinese Chippendale dining table in mahogany has a smooth top. In the northeast corner of the living room, a carved mahogany chair in a dragon theme is a souvenir of China's Boxer Rebellion brought back to the United States by Stellmann's father-in law, Robert U. Patterson.

The den contains photos of Patterson being sworn in as the U.S. surgeon general in 1930 and a collection of original signed documents of James Monroe, one of Stellmann's ancestors.

In addition to a guest suite on the second level, Stellmann uses one of the bedrooms as a "doll room." On display are toys from her and her mother's childhood. The dolls date to 1920 and include bride dolls from the 1940s and 1950s and a baby doll circa 1930 with three expressions on revolving faces.

A wide staircase landing looks down on the grand hall's Oriental carpet, which includes shades of blue. From there, the living room and den can be seen. Antique prints from the Federal period, depicting genteel salons, are hung on the landing walls.

Stellmann remembers gazing at the prints - which once belonged to her grandmother - as a child. Stellmann's master suite is furnished with treasures that include a framed photograph of her grandmother and three siblings, and an antique mahogany secretary.

"If I ever had to start over from scratch," Stellmann says, "I wouldn't know what kind of house to have. I've always had these things with me."

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