First time is divine


Nancy Short converts Cape Cod to 'coastal cottage'

July 25, 2008|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Sun

Nancy Short considers herself a blessed person and calls her little brick Cape Cod in Catonsville - the first house she has ever owned - a divine gift.

"The house was on the market for $365,000, the only one I looked at," the 44-year-old physical education teacher recalled. "I was approved for a $300,000 loan and then apologized to the [former owners] for wasting their time."

The owners, whom she refers to as "an angelic couple," understood how hard it was to buy a first home and sold it to her for that amount. Short recalled they were happy "to help someone out."

By September 2005, Short was settled in and on her way to decorating the home in what she calls "coastal cottage" style. Help from others did not stop with the former owners.

Her covered front porch of concrete and iron rails was hopelessly outdated in a neighborhood where everyone consistently made exterior home improvements. She mentioned her desire for a new porch to an old family friend who just happened to have a stockpile of blue slate and wood.

"He put in my porch and didn't charge a thing," Short said.

Short estimates that she's put $15,000 into her 50-year-old coastal cottage. She painted the first floor and installed a basement ceiling and plasterboard partitioning to enclose a laundry room there. She also indulged in furniture pieces such as a new leather sofa for the living room and an antique mahogany bed.

A loyal patron of local antique and consignments shops, Short uses her living room coffee table - once an oak dining table, but now with sawed-off, carved legs - as) the repository of design magazines and books.

"I'm obsessed with looking at magazines," Short said. "All of my ideas come from them [and] my dream book on beach cottages."

Her love for the beach, combined with a penchant for rustic-style furnishings, defines the home. Within the house's depth of 35 feet and width of 50 feet, Short has artfully coordinated the softness of fabric and multiple framed prints of a variety of botanicals, with the rugged, worn look of set pieces.

A neutral wool carpet rests on the living room's pine flooring original to the house. A bamboo shade covers her front window. Two easy chairs covered in white duck cloth rest in front of a wooden bookshelf painted white. Family photos, framed in distressed wooden moldings, hang on the walls and rest atop an oak drop-leaf table and an antique, burl-wood chest.

A brick fireplace is enhanced with a white wood mantel carved in the clean lines and crest design of the art deco period. Wishing to covert the wood-burning hearth to gas, Short called upon another friend who did the job for, she said, "a very good price."

The living room's soft yellow walls segue into a dining room where the walls below a chair rail are painted a dark cocoa and above a deep, lime green. Randomly placed white wall shelves add contrast.

An oak table painted white with ladder-back side chairs and two wicker armchairs add to the cottage feel. Large sunflowers, picked from a neighbor's garden, present a cheerful splash of yellow.

Eventually, Short wants to knock out the wall between the dining room and kitchen and replace the vinyl flooring with ceramic and put in stainless appliances. In the meantime, her oak cabinets have been refitted with brushed brass knobs and a liberal use of wicker baskets.

The home's second floor consists of a large sitting and bedroom suite and half-bath. Currently, Short rents the space to help with her mortgage payment.

The south end of the home's first floor has been designed for Short's personal quarters and includes a bathroom, den and bedroom.

Seated at her dining room table, her trusty golden retriever Riley by her side, Short revels in her good fortune.

"The whole house seems like a miracle," she said. "It all worked out for me."

New home for Dream Home

The Dream Home feature is moving to a new section, Go Today, and will appear on Saturdays beginning Aug. 2.

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