Southern comfort, alive and well



Along Falls Road in North Baltimore, quaint frame houses, as well as a few brick and stone buildings, dot either side of the two-lane street. Like many in and around the village of Mount Washington, these two-story, farmhouse-like structures are reminders of a time when, almost 200 years ago, the now-defunct Washington Cotton Manufacturing Co. set up operation. In the area where the Jones Falls meets up with the Western Run, the company provided housing for the workers and a mill town was born.

The builders of Lynn and Dave Hoeckel's four-year-old home -- one of 18 new houses on a street called Washingtonville, a few blocks north of the village -- aimed for that same mill-town look. The houses, each slightly different from the next, recall the era of Victorian frame design.

The Hoeckel home features a hardy plank exterior of composite concrete board with a soft beige color baked in. Black shutters grace the windows, many of which are a bay design.

Dave Hoeckel, an advertising director for the Patuxent Publishing Co., and his wife Lynn, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker, paid $525,000 for the 4,500-square-foot home, which has a finished lower level, five bedrooms and 4 1 / 2 baths. They spent an additional $100,000 on upgrades that include a 14-by-26-foot rear deck, a flagstone patio, lush backyard landscaping, indoor light fixtures and faux painting on the interior walls.

"I think [the] Southern Living category would best fit our decor," noted Lynn Hoeckel.

Indeed, Southern comfort and the promise of elegant yet inviting hospitality exude from every corner of the traditionally decorated home, which has 9-foot ceilings, 8-foot-high solid doors and arched openings into each room.

The kitchen, family room and master suite occupy the rear of the first level.

The Hoeckels have chosen a soft yellow paint for the walls here, capped by crown molding painted white. Homey touches, such as gilt-framed paintings of barnyard animals, hang on the walls above traditional, overstuffed furniture. A wood-burning fireplace, its mantel carved in dentil molding, contrasts in charming fashion with a drop-leaf oval coffee table. Fashioned of distressed oak, the table is of English parsonage design.

Subtle decorating touches, such as a wall painted in soft gold and yellow stripes, add textural interest.

By contrast, the living and dining areas bear a slightly more formal, yet no less welcoming, ambience. Columns painted white mark the entrance to the dining room, where a tray ceiling lords over a traditional mahogany table and eight chairs. Soft light enters through slatted blinds over bay windows, the reflection dancing on the highly polished table top.

For her two daughters, Barrett, a recent college graduate, and Berkley, a college sophomore, Lynn Hoeckel has created second-level boudoirs fit for Southern belles.

"I call this her froufrou room," she laughed, referring to Berkley's faux-painted pink walls with windows and four-poster bed draped in white tulle. Barrett's room is done in much the same fashion with cherry red walls providing dramatic contrast to the white tulle.

The Hoeckels gaze down from their patio onto a garden landscaped with crape myrtles, weeping cherry trees, red maples and dogwood, all winding along a flagstone path.

"We plan on staying here," Lynn Hoeckel said. "That's why we put the master bedroom on the first floor."

"And even though we have a very large house, we can always close parts of it off," her husband added.


The Hoeckels note that when having a new house built:

Be patient when things are not going smoothly. Never set a timeline for completion.

Be knowledgeable, but at the same time, be open to change.

Keep up with the building process; don't let it just happen.

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