Some big changes for little house


November 01, 2008|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Baltimore Sun

The transition from apartment living to first-time homeownership can be exciting, but also daunting. When Diana Mahoney first looked at her brick Cape Cod-style home in Pikesville, it was "love at first sight."

She vowed not to be intimidated by the work she knew she had to do to make her dream home complete. And so, with the help and support of her family, she began tearing down and building up as soon as the ink was dry on the 2001 contract.

While the house was structurally sound, Mahoney would end up spending $65,000 in seven years, gutting and redoing two bathrooms, building two bedrooms in the attic, installing central air and all new windows, adding a two-tiered backyard deck and landscaping her 3/4 -acre property.

The first "improvement" to the little brick house, which she bought for $92,000, was tearing out the wall that separated a first-floor bedroom from the home's kitchen.

"That opened things up," she said of the pass-through that now presents a consistent and utilitarian flow from her kitchen to the dining room.

That project complete, she furnished the dining room with an oak table and buffet suite and painted the walls a deep shade of cinnamon. She converted the clothes closet into a pantry, which her large country kitchen had lacked.

Emboldened by her accomplishments and compliments from friends, she and her partner, Marti Ball, a 43-year-old database administrator for a consulting firm, went into attack mode.

Mahoney, a 44-year-old registered nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital, turned a second bedroom on the ground floor into an office for her and Ball, painting it sunflower yellow and turning the closet into a built-in bookshelf, part of which hides ductwork.

The attic was crying out for two bedrooms, and creating them gave the two women great satisfaction. They hung textured wallpaper in the space and placed homey, country decor under the deeply sloped ceilings.

Their cottage, with its improvements and personal touches, is a place they don't plan to leave for a long while. "There's too much of us here," Ball said.

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Write to Dream Home, Home & Garden Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or e-mail us at

making the house their own

* Great Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Marti Ball and Diana Mahoney turned their basement into a club room and created a Steelers haven with team banners, pendants, photographs, towels, assorted memorabilia, a 64-inch TV and a stocked bar.

* Mahoney used a light wood molding around doors, windows and the kitchen/dining room to add a consistent look to the various room colors.

* A double deck off the kitchen boasts a high-flying Steelers flag, and a hot tub at the foot of the deck's west side provides all-season relaxation.

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