High-end fixer-upper

Dream Home

An 1895 Roland Park behemoth challenges a couple experienced in restoring houses

Real Estate

October 13, 2006|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Sun

Joan Dolina and her husband have a consuming passion, one that has led to the restoration of eight homes.

"We find a house that's falling down and we feel we have to save it," she said. "And this house was definitely falling apart."

The home in question is a Roland Park behemoth - an 1895 three-story stone and cedar-shake Edwardian with more than 4,000 square feet.

It's embellished with a stone and cedar turret complete with three large stained-glass windows. A small front porch nestled under a sloping roof is one of the home's three that have been comfortably outfitted with tables and cushioned chairs.

When Joan and Tom Dolina bought the home in August 2005 for $550,000, they were aware of two things: They were betting heavily on the desirable North Baltimore location, and - more important - the house would be the end product of all the money earned from the sale of prior homes over the years.

"The roof was leaking and structural beams were termite-ridden," Joan Dolina recalled.

The couple spent another $450,000 for a new kitchen, a two-story rear addition, flooring, painting and 3 1/2 new bathrooms.

The 24-by-26-foot addition houses an open kitchen and family room. The couple, great believers in adaptive reuse, turned the home's original back door into a 6-foot plank-topped kitchen table. The nearly 9-foot-tall multipaned windows that once enclosed the front porch now front kitchen storage cupboards.

Cherry cabinets have concrete countertops stained a dusty light brown, providing a counterpoint to stainless steel appliances, including a commercial stove.

The south side of the addition features a relaxing space that includes a mocha wool club sofa in front of a slate fireplace, one of nine in the home.

Joan Dolina chose to paint the ceiling, floor and window trim chocolate brown to contrast with soft yellow walls. The effect, together with hanging lamps with conical shades, produces what her friends refer to as "retro '40s." There is an arts-and-crafts tone as well, evident in the large billiard room and a sitting room filled with a leather club-style suite of furniture.

"I love to combine style and texture, and I love color," Joan Dolina said. Throughout the home are original watercolor and oil canvasses, most in vibrant colors. Joan Dolina, who studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art., painted many of them. There also are works by friends and from Antreasian Gallery in Hampden.

A large reception area just inside the front door features a cherry baby grand piano, which sits in front of a bay window with leaded glass, mullioned windows. The carved open staircase turns as it climbs to a wide hallway on the second level.

Upstairs are five large rooms plus a master suite in the back addition. Each of the couple's two sons, Andy, 15, and Jack, 10, has his own large bedroom, which, according to their mother, they keep quite tidy.

Content in her restored surroundings and grateful for any time her large family comes for dinner, Joan Dolina plans on designing home restorations for others. As for this current and most personal project, she's happy and fulfilled, calling her home "warm, comfortable, and a great place to gather."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Write to Dream Home, Real Estate Editor, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or e-mail us at real.estate@baltsun.com.

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