Kim Stepherson always wanted a big, old, yellow house. She grew up in one - a grand Victorian in Catonsville. However, her husband, Dave, a 41-year-old portfolio manager working in Baltimore, didn't want the work of restoring an old house.
The couple compromised in March 2004 when they had a 4,600-square-foot, yellow, vinyl-sided house built for them and their two children, Madison, 10, and Jackson, 7.
"I would call it a Colonial, New England-style house with dormers," said Kim Stepherson, a 42-year-old physical education teacher, of her home in the Dayton area of Howard County.
Indeed, the $750,000 home built by Toll Brothers is impressive. It rests on a slight incline above street level and has a manicured front lawn and a front garden encircled in field stone.
Beyond a double-door front entrance, the spaciousness of an interior open to the second level is dramatically emphasized by a bridgelike walkway connecting the enclosed east and west portions of the upstairs of the house. These portions contain four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Decorated mainly in traditional furnishings, the family room, in the rear of the home, offers a clear view to the adjoining breakfast room and kitchen. Its function is essential - it's a gathering place for the Stephersons.
"We like being together," said Dave Stepherson, "and that's wherever we are as a family."
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making the house their own
* When the Stephersons first moved into their house, their 1 1/4 -acre property wasn't landscaped, and the area behind the house, they said, was "one big dirt bowl." They spent about $100,000 to create an outdoor paradise.
* They installed an in-ground pool; planted birch trees, pine trees, flowering myrtle; built a 20-foot-by-20-foot loggia, complete with a fireplace for cooking; and put up picket fence to enclose the entire area. * Because Dave Stepherson wanted a room for himself - what he calls a "man room" - the formal living room, across the hall from the dining room, is outfitted with an elaborately carved pool table and comfortable, clublike furniture.