Water is focus


From beginning, view of Wilde Lake was most important

June 13, 2008|By Diane Reynolds | Diane Reynolds,Special to The Sun

Joyce and Karl Ardo wanted a house by the water and a room with a view.

The couple focused their search on Wilde Lake, an open area teeming with wildlife in the middle of Columbia.

It was 2004, during the real estate frenzy, and several waterfront townhouses that they bid on fell through.

Then in August, a single-family house on the lake came on the market.

Ardo toured the home before her husband got there. It was exactly what she had envisioned.

"My idea was to revitalize a house," she said. Within a half-hour, she had remodeled the home in her mind.

The raised contemporary rancher was dark, with wood floors stained almost black, paneling on some walls, yellow laminate in the kitchen, and small, chopped-up rooms, Ardo said.

She immediately decided that the wall separating the living room and kitchen had to come down.

"The goal was to make the lake the visual," she said. "The question was: Could this be done affordably?"

The Ardos bid on the house, putting in an escalation clause, and won out over five other contenders.

They brought in Brian Brantley, a contractor they had worked with on their previous home, a Colonial in Ellicott City that had won a design award. They also consulted a structural engineer.

Both agreed that the work could be done for a reasonable cost.

The Ardos bought the 2,500-square-foot house for $450,000, and between August and Thanksgiving in 2004, worked with Brantley to transform it into an open, light-filled space.

"It profoundly changed the house to take down one wall," Karl Ardo said.

Now five sliders offer panoramic views of Wilde Lake from two sides of the large, airy space created by merging living room, dining room and kitchen.

The Ardos replaced the linoleum on the kitchen floor with a pale hardwood and had the hardwood floors in the living room and dining room refinished in the same light shade. A deck wraps around two sides of the room.

The couple took out the flat ceiling in the master bedroom to create a soaring cathedral ceiling with skylights and added a small deck that overlooks the lake.

Across from the master bedroom, the Ardos converted the bathroom into a powder room, removing the tub. In its place, they installed a washer-dryer.

The couple then turned the bedroom next to their bedroom into an oversized master bath with a whirlpool tub, a separate shower and dual sinks on separate walls, allowing each to have the height and size they preferred.

The Ardos used the Internet extensively to get cut-rate deals.

In one instance, a home improvement chain quoted them a price of $9,300 for a glass surround for the shower. They found one with thicker glass online for $1,600, including shipping.

In other places, they used ingenuity to reduce costs. A granite-look laminate countertop under the bowl sink in the bathroom cost $49, far less than granite or Corian.

To save money in the master bath, they took an idea from a magazine: They used inexpensive white ceramic tiles, but grouted them in taupe for a custom look. To add contrast and interest, they reversed the scheme on the shower walls.

"We just manipulated the $1.29 tiles," Joyce Ardo said.

The bottom line: The Ardos remodeled their home, inside and out, for $175,000, coming in $400 under budget, she said.

Karl Ardo designed the outside walkway that wraps around the front of the house and leads to the deck with its views of the lake.

Instead of having the old siding removed, he had new siding placed on top, adding insulation that has cut energy costs, he said.

Because the Ardos work at home - she runs a math tutoring business and he's a Qigong practitioner and therapist - the couple turned the staircase to the lower level so clients can go directly from the entrance hall to their offices, keeping the living areas private, he said.

Attention to detail is crucial in a smaller home, the Ardos said. They made sure that the new kitchen island, the hall closet and the bedroom hallway aligned. They put on the handles of their kitchen cabinets horizontally to mimic the horizontal flow of the house.

"These were tiny details that weren't expensive," Joyce Ardo said.

The clean-line house with its water views fills the couple with serenity, Karl Ardo said.

"There's a sense of quiet stillness that lives here seven days a week," he said.

"We really got lucky," she said. "We pinch ourselves. This is our dream."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.