Home is artist's `vision'

Dream Home

Built in 1926, Hamilton Hills four-square house showcases tastes, talents of its owner

Dream Home

April 20, 2007|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Sun

Bonnie Matthews' enthusiasm over her house is contagious.

"Come here, quick. Look at what I've done in this room," she said in delight as she whisked a visitor from room to room.

The 43-year-old artist and illustrator purchased her home in the northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Hamilton Hills in 2001. Its American, four-square design beckoned to her artistic bent, while a third level offered the possibility of ample studio space she would no longer have to rent elsewhere.

She paid $125,000 for the asbestos-shingle home with a slate roof. "It was the most expensive house in the neighborhood," Matthews said. "But it was a good, solid house."

Not so cosmetically, though. There was wallpaper pasted atop wallpaper, and dark carpeting throughout its three levels. Yet the prior owner of the 1926 four-square took extreme pain to strip all of the wood doors and molding that had been painted over by the home's first owners.

Matthews spent approximately $45,000 fixing up her 4,200- square-foot vision, which included breaking out part of a bathroom on the first floor rear of the home to enlarge her kitchen, adding sliding doors to the backyard, replacing kitchen counters and installing backsplash tiles. She also opened the wall between the home's living and dining rooms, built a stone wall in the front garden and a pergola in the backyard.

"My floors are yellow Georgia pine," she said of the surprise that greeted her upon taking up the carpet. Stained pine molding frames all of the doorways and windows throughout the house, while heavy, multipaned French doors open off the front entrance hall onto the dining room.

The front of the home enjoys a southern exposure with a wide porch that wraps around to its west side. The front door boasts stained-glass panels along each side and in the transom. Vermont slate covers the foyer floor, a pleasing contrast to the blond wood of a fold-top desk in front of the staircase.

From here one can see Matthews' kitchen in the rear, where walls are painted celery green. Cabinets are of hickory, crafted in Shaker style. An 8-foot mahogany-topped kitchen table commands the space that is brightened by several windows. Many of the neutral colored tiles of the counter's backsplash are embellished with colored, hand-painted tiles from Mexico.

Matthews' living room furniture and accessories are proportioned to the approximately 17-foot-square space with touches of Mission d?cor. A love seat, upholstered in black leather and topped with two large red accent pillows, sits before a large window. A red leather club chair occupies a spot before a three-window bay.

Paintings and posters of Matthews' whimsical animal characters (many having graced the pages of children's books, posters and brochures) adorn the walls both here in the living room, and on the pumpkin walls of her dining room. There a large table of distressed rubber wood signals her love of entertaining.

Matthews' second level consists of four bedrooms and a bath where her handiwork is prevalent. There's a wall done in wainscoting, bright, multicolored tiles in the shower stall and a sink she crafted herself - its counter topped in mosaic tiling.

Matthews' third-floor studio is separated into workspace and an office area. Several of her paintings and watercolors lay propped against chairs and tables.

Matthews maintains that Hamilton Hills is a great place to live with good housing stock. The neighborhood is quiet and diverse.

As for the work she has done on her dream home and additional projects planned, she said enthusiastically, "I wanted people to see what can be done. It's my vision, and it's not over yet."

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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