In October 1998, David and Susan Balderson moved one mile across Route 29 in Ellicott City, from the east side to the west, because they wanted to own the imposing Colonial home whose 34 windows always boasted a lighted electric candle.
Wayside Inn, circa 1780, was up for sale and the couple felt lucky to acquire the house and property for $400,000. In one year's time, they would completely renovate, and David Balderson would take up where the prior owner left off - running the 6,000-square-foot home as a bed and breakfast.
"The house was in exquisite shape structurally," he said. "But the interior was dark, like 1970s earth colors. It screamed to be lightened."
In addition to installing air conditioning, making plumbing and electric repairs, and reattaching the back porch (which was falling away from the house), the Baldersons chose to completely re-furnish and paint their home.
Today, one addition to the original structure provides private space for the couple, while a second addition serves as a bright sunroom and an extra guest suite. The design of both additions blends flawlessly with the architecture of the original home, especially in the sunroom where transoms rest over every window and doorway and flooring is of wide-planked, painted pine.
David Balderson sings the praises of his decorators as he proudly shows off the home's first-floor living room, dining room and library and the second and third floors' guest rooms, which include three suites. Every room in the four-square Colonial with large center hallway has been brightened with lighter, softer shades of paint on the thick plaster walls over granite. Coordinating colors cover chair rails, crown molding, wainscoting - even the trim on nine working fireplaces.
Pieces of furniture and rich fabrics not original to the period have been carefully chosen for the quality of their craftsmanship. In the dining room, for example, a 4-foot-by-9-foot table features hand-cut and -sawn wood, with wooden pegs used instead of nails. The kitchen island has been topped with butcher block made of rubber wood. In the bedrooms, all coverlets were chosen, like the drapes throughout the house, with a nod to period textiles. Once purchased, the material for drapes was sent off to be handmade, while the bedspreads were hand-quilted by artisans in the Carolinas.
Every room, including the spacious rooftop deck over the sunroom, looks out at mighty old trees such as a Maryland white oak, black walnuts, sycamores and pines. The whooshing of their leaves in the wind is a soft musical accompaniment to their grandeur.
While David Balderson enjoys the career of his life as innkeeper, he marvels at the home he and his wife have made for themselves, complete with the candles in every window.
"Do you know the coolest thing about this house?" he asked as though it were a riddle to be answered. "We get to live here!"
Making a dream home
Dream element:: David and Susan Balderson's home, Wayside Inn, is a 200-year journey back in time. Here on 2 acres in historic Ellicott City lies a majestic three-story granite Colonial surrounded by old trees and landscaped property that includes a pond.
Design inspiration:: With the assistance of two decorators, the couple furnished the entire home in Colonial decor, both original to the period and handsomely crafted reproductions. Two lovely examples are a late 18th-century corner cabinet in the living room made of oak and an early 19th-century framed needlework fire screen.
Surprise feature: : It is only from the interior that one can appreciate the home's construction of locally quarried granite and marvel at how it has stood the test of time. Throughout the three stories, all window sills and door frames are 20-inches deep.
Personal touch:: In the home's library, shelves are filled with Susan Balderson's girlhood collection of Royal Doulton figurines, as well as a recent collection of Gone With the Wind figurines. Pictures and publicity stills of her grandmother, a Broadway actress in the 1920s, adorn the walls. David Balderson considers the library his favorite room, especially in the winter when a lighted fire makes it warm and cozy - the perfect place for reading and a nap.