Nancy Hubble has been in thousands of homes in her long career as a real estate agent. Now, after 17 moves in a lifetime, she has found her bit of Eden - at a Lutherville cluster home.
"Oh no, wait. You can't come in yet," she said. "First I want to take you into my secret garden."
Through the garden gate, the distant sound of a waterfall beckons at the end of a blue-stone walkway. Wisteria vines cover a pergola. Abundant foliage, including two plum trees and a golden maple, are lighted from below to create an "other world" serenity at night. In a corner a raised pond of stack stone, home to goldfish and pink lily pads, gives rise to the waterfall.
Hubble, a 67-year- old Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokers, waited a long time for her Eden, completing the project a little over a year ago in time for her husband - who died in January - to enjoy crabs on the patio last summer.
The Meadows of Green Spring, just off Seminary Avenue in north Baltimore County, consists of 99 homes, 78 of which are cluster (or connected) properties. Her contemporary brick- and-cedar home, 3,500 square feet in size, is 18 years old. She and her husband purchased the property 10 years ago for $350,000.
$300,000 for updates
Hubble estimates they spent an additional $300,000 on updates, such as custom-built bookcases in her den and upstairs office and new kitchen appliances, windows, doors, roof and new heating and air conditioning.
Two years ago the couple moved out so that the carpeting could be pulled up and the oak flooring sanded and refinished.
Typically, cluster homes are designed with open layouts, the various rooms defined by a few steps up or down. Cathedral ceilings, often 20 feet high, and fireplace masonry rising to the ceiling are added features.
Nancy Hubble's home boasts an entrance hall, living room, dining room, kitchen, den, powder room and master bedroom, and bath on the first level. An oak staircase leads to a second level with another full bedroom and bath, an office and plenty of storage space.
`This is it'
After many moves and accumulating a vast collection of antiques, the Hubbles decided to downsize a decade ago. With her long experience in house hunting, she knew instinctively when she had found her dream home
"The minute I walked in the door, I said, `This is it,'" she recalled.
In the entrance foyer, two predominant wall colors catch the eye - shades of linen in the living room and den and the paprika-red tones of the dining room beyond. Antique mahogany furniture throughout and cream colored plantation shutters on the windows provide contrast.
Over the living room fireplace is a framed French poster touting a 1905 lottery. In front of the hearth are two gray and white striped occasional chairs. Across from this cozy duo, a sofa upholstered in shades of cream rests in front of a 4-foot-high glass partition that separates the living room from the dining room, with its standout converted gas chandelier, circa 1880, with cut-glass globes.
Mahogany Centennial chairs dated 1876 and covered in light green silk sidle up to a mahogany table. A hand-carved buffet made in Baltimore in the 1930s by the Bellflower Co. graces the dining room's south wall.
The sunny feel of Hubble's master bedroom on the home's east side is enhanced by the monochromatic cream and beige color scheme.
The Bengali pattern wallpaper from Brunschwig & Fils features white birds and soft vines on a mushroom-color background.
Cream plantation shutters cover the windows. The furniture is mahogany with a large four-poster bed. The bathroom boasts khaki marble flooring and a Jacuzzi.
Hubble's 92-year-old mother, who has lived with her for many years, occupies a cheery bedroom on the second level.
Hubble's office across the hall is defined by a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that hold such treasures as a framed photo of Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine. Autographed "For my friend Ray O'Day," it was originally presented to her uncle.
In the kitchen the garden waterfall's gentle gurgle comes through the open sliders. Paprika-red walls - the same color as the dining room - provide a backdrop for beige cabinets and countertops. An antique pine hutch stands against one wall.
After 17 moves in her lifetime, Hubble is content.
"I am in and out of gorgeous houses all the time," she said, "but this house is perfect for me - like coming home."