Doghouse has room for owner, too

A $216,000

Adored black Lab figured in purchase of Owings Mills home


Serious dog lovers always want to provide man's best friend with a good home. Stacie Dembeck went the extra mile.

Living in a small apartment, she wanted space that would allow her 9-year-old black Labrador retriever to romp and run - and ultimately thrive.

Born and raised in Reisterstown, Dembeck, 28, a Web designer for the federal government, decided to look for more dog-friendly quarters in the area. She found the answer to her search in a roomy townhouse in the Owings Mills development of Winterset.

"This house was bought for Diesel," she said. "I wanted him to have a nice big yard and windows to the floor [since] he likes to rest there and prop his head on the windowsill."

The object of her pride and affection does exactly that, gazing languidly from the living-room window onto the eight-year-old community's wide streets that are graced with old trees the builders spared.

Dembeck's end-of-group sits on eight-tenths of an acre adjoining a thickly wooded area. Looking out of her kitchen's sliding doors at the thick fall foliage gives one the feeling of being in a solitary home in the woods.

Dembeck bought her 2,000-square-foot, 25-foot-wide townhouse for $216,000. The first order of business was a good house-cleaning.

"It was in fairly good condition, [but] my mom and I went through it and bleached everything," she said.

Dembeck also knew the home would need painting, especially in the large country kitchen where walls separated by a chair rail were painted red and pink. Dembeck credits her parents for their support and elbow grease. Her dad did the painting. She spent about $10,000 on paint and other improvements, including a 6-foot-high, wooden backyard fence, a cobblestone patio and new appliances.

Because the house is an end unit, abundant light enters through windows on three sides.

The entrance opens onto a large foyer and guest bath. Sunlight splashes on the light vinyl flooring and flourishing plants. The open layout of the first level is straightforward - living room in front and spacious country kitchen in the rear.

Dembeck is quick to note that, while her home is clearly "Diesel's Castle," there were three compelling features that cemented her decision to buy.

"Reason No. 1," she said, had everything to do with her kitchen, which features a center island fashioned of walnut with matching cabinets. Since she loves to cook and entertain (she's already had three big parties), she finds the counter space invaluable. White appliances ring an L-shaped work area, and a large window over the sink allows her to keep an eye on Diesel in the backyard.

The area also contains a maple farm table and four matching Windsor-back chairs. Homey touches include a plaid table runner in autumn colors and butterscotch-scented candles. The soft sage paint on the walls provides a subtle contrast to the warm wood tones of cabinets and furniture.

"I sit here [at the table] in the morning and watch the deer outside," Dembeck said.

For her living-room walls, Dembeck chose a khaki shade that coordinates with her modern, overstuffed furniture suite upholstered in faux suede. Natural wool carpeting covers the floor, though she wants to install hardwood flooring on the entire first floor.

Reason No. 2, said Dembeck, was the big Palladian window on the staircase landing. Natural light pours in, illuminating her photo gallery on either side of the stairwell.

The master bedroom on the second floor showcases a suite of cherry furniture, the headboard carved in an arc with spindle insets.

The two front rooms are used as a guest room and office.

"Here is reason No. 3 for buying the house," Dembeck said, standing in the middle of her lower level family room. "This is where I unwind after a long day."

Her retreat contains a gas fireplace, TV and pub-style furniture in taupe tweed fabric.

A wall hanging depicting a black Lab (which looks eerily like Diesel) was placed over the sofa.

A startlingly lifelike, stuffed black Lab lounges on the sofa.

Sliding glass doors to the backyard and patio open onto a manicured garden that includes a metal fountain. Awaiting the return of summer are two brightly colored plastic kiddy pools that help Diesel endure hot afternoons.

"This home is exactly what I want for this time in my life," said Dembeck sitting at her kitchen table and surveying her dream. "I wanted a home for Diesel ... and more outlets!"

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