A Md. waterfront home via Fla.


After moving down South, a couple got homesick for crabs and the BSO


It took a 1995 move to Ocala, Fla., for Tom Buser and wife Joyce Starr to realize how much they loved Maryland, their home state.

"We got homesick for the water, the culture, the steamed crabs, and [the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra]," said Starr, a 59-year old registered nurse. "We also wanted to be back where the health care is better."

After five years, the couple returned, settling in July 2000 on a waterfront townhouse in the Anne Arundel County development of Elizabeth's Landing, near Pasadena. They paid $150,000 for a two-story, end-of-group townhouse directly on the banks of Stony Creek.

From every window and sliding door at the rear of their home, as well as from their three decks, they can enjoy views of this wide and serene body of water that opens to the Patapsco River near where it joins the Chesapeake Bay. They marvel as gorgeous sunsets cast beams of yellow and orange light on the bobbing boats moored just yards away.

But there was a price to pay -- immediate and up front. "We literally bought four walls and a water view," Starr remembered of the home's run-down condition from previous rentals.

They were prepared, however, to renovate and update their 1,800-square-foot dream. They spent approximately $100,000 on new windows, a new kitchen, sliding glass doors off the kitchen and dining room (which they combined), the three decks, new heating and air conditioning and new siding.

In keeping with their waterfront location, Buser and Starr decided on a cottage dM-icor for the home's interior, with motifs that are both country and seaside. As an end-of-group, the entrance is located on the house's side of the house, making it 30 feet wide and 20 feet long.

Starr was faced with one of her first decorating dilemmas: the basement door was just a few feet from the entrance. So Starr opted for a multipaned basement door that reflects the colored front door transom and -- when front door opens -- the outside.

West of the entrance, the sliding glass doors of the kitchen-dining room lead to a deck. Wrought-iron furniture and a table with a green canvas umbrella provide a waterfront haven.

"Our company thinks they're on vacation when they come to visit," laughed Tom Buser, 68, a part-time consultant with the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's development agency.

The homey dining room features a knotted pine, farmhouse table and carved pine captain's chairs. The walls are clad in white wainscoting three-fourths of the way up, with the area above painted in moss green-gray and topped with 6-inch crown molding. A khaki woven rug in the design of a leaf sits upon pine flooring, while plantation shutters grace the window.

The kitchen has glazed carved maple cabinets and granite countertops. Pots and pans dangle from a ceiling rack over a center island, their gleaming copper bottoms reflected in the granite.

White wicker and tattersall fabric define the homespun look of the furniture in the living room. White built-in bookcases flank a window seat, providing soft contrast to the khaki walls.

"I like oyster shells, sand and topiary," said Starr, indicating one such groomed plant on a wicker buffet that also houses nautical bric-a-brac. "The thing is to buy small pieces to fit the rooms."

Winston, a 15-year-old Yorkie-Poo mix, lounges in a wicker side chair, while Louie, a 12-year old Yorkshire dreams away in an overstuffed club chair of soft red and cream striped upholstery.

The cottage theme is carried over in the couple's second level. A hand-carved, wooden bed frame dominates a guest room painted in soft gray-blue. Painted white, the frame emulates a picket fence at its headboard and footboard.

The master bedroom's bed frame is a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit, hand made by the same craftsman who fashioned the unit in the living room. Painted white, it contrasts with the room's light mustard paint. Plantation shutters adorn the sliding door to the second deck.

Beyond the first floor's multi-paned door, a staircase leads to the basement. A sign hung at the landing announces "The Gathering Room." Here, neutral carpeting, along with walls done in oyster-shell paint, serve as a backdrop for a camel-backed sofa and loveseat upholstered in beige and burgundy check.

A corner, wood- burning fireplace sports a dark green mantel while a portion of picket fence serves as a screen when no fire is burning.

"We're so close to the water down here," Starr said, opening the sliding door leading to the third deck with its Adirondack chairs and climbing morning glories.

The lawn stretches to the tree-lined creek, where their powerboat is moored.

"Blue herons, egrets, and ducks make the [view from] the house more enjoyable," Tom Buser commented.

Starr added, " I hope [our visitors] enjoy our company, our home and our water view."

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