Fate takes them home

DREAM HOME

A city couple seeking bigger digs find space for 12 bikes and a young son in Howard County

Real Estate

August 11, 2006|By MARIE GULLARD | MARIE GULLARD,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"We needed to breathe," Melanie Nystrom said emphatically, referring to the lifestyle change she and her husband made in March.

Within five months, the couple went from condo living in downtown Baltimore, to a lost contract on a house in Howard County, to a found deal on a house nearby, to moving day.

Fate, she said, lent a helping hand.

After their son, Thor, was born 15 months ago, the couple decided they were ready for more space. Both passionate bicyclists, especially mountain biking, the couple realized they were spending a great deal of time hitching bikes to their car and heading to the parks and trails in Howard County.

Given their passion for cycling, the location seemed a no-brainer.

When they lost the contract on their first choice, they happened upon a new house in Ilchester.

"The couple that had it built got a divorce before they ever moved in," Melanie Nystrom recalled. "We loved the open floor plan, the open feeling."

And there was more to love. The house was just three-tenths of a mile from a mountain bike trailhead at the county's Rockburn Branch Park. The school district was excellent and Nystrom's husband, Chris, had only a 20-minute commute to the Legg Mason building in downtown Baltimore, where he works in institutional sales for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

The Nystroms paid $660,000 for the two-story, Georgian-style home of fieldstone and vinyl siding. They had the space they craved - 4,000 square feet - including a finished, walk-out basement. Additionally, they were thrilled with the third of an acre lot that backs onto trees, pasture and a creek.

"The first floor has the open layout we wanted, with a living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, and breakfast room that we call the playroom," she said.

Thor's playroom is filled with toys, both large and small, and a nylon tent to shade him from a northeast exposure through curtain-less windows. The room is sparsely furnished but boasts a large pastel carpet.

Since March, Nystrom and her husband have spent close to $20,000 on a new deck, a patio, appliances, paint and a retaining wall for the front garden.

A treat for her was the purchase of a stainless steel washer, dryer, and refrigerator. The L-shaped kitchen showcases oak cabinets and oak flooring.

The first-floor walls are done in soft and slightly varied shades of yellow, providing a warm contrast to the light fieldstone fireplace in the family room and the mahogany table, chairs and buffet in the dining room.

An oil painting of a field of red and yellow flowers hangs above the dining room credenza. Melanie Nystrom's mother painted the watercolor of a church in Baltimore's quaint Dickeyville neighborhood that graces a wall in the living room.

"My family is very artistic," she said, pointing to Thor's tiny rocking chair that had been decorated in oils by her mother.

Four bedrooms occupy the second level. Another painting by Nystrom's mother - this one of sheep jumping in a pasture - adorns Thor's nursery walls. Nystrom's mother also made a patched quilt and draperies in the same sheep theme.

The finished basement boasts a guest suite, complete with large sitting room and full bathroom.

"This is my favorite room in the house," said Melanie Nystrom, walking into the bike shop, where 12 bicycles hung from racks. A workbench and tools are on hand for repairs.

"This is our dream home," she said. "We have country living, yet we are just 14 miles from the city. The best of both worlds."

Have you found your dream home?

Tell us about it. Write to Dream Home, Real Estate Editor, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or e-mail us at real.estate@baltsun.com.

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