Set back from a two-lane road in Kingsville, a tiny, frame cottage (think of a little wooden Monopoly house) rests amid tall weeping willows, evergreen and blooming crape myrtle. It's light blue in color, with its windows and front door trimmed in white paint. An American flag gently waves from its metal perch at the rail of a covered porch.
Ken Smith, a 45-year-old staff member of Human Resources at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, stands in his asphalt driveway that makes a wide, circular curve toward the rear of the house. A garage sits at the end of the driveway in a spacious backyard that is easily three times the size of the little house.
"The garage seduced me [into] buying the house," he said of the carpeted, 576-square-foot space that, in addition to housing some valued collectibles, makes for extra party space.
Inside the cottage, Smith recalls the $249,000 deal he got on the house back in the fall of 2004.
"It was a steal," he said. "No one wanted a one-bathroom house."
But Smith had no illusions about the size of the six-room cottage, especially when realizing how inexpensive it would be to heat and cool. Housekeeping would be a breeze as well.
While structurally sound, each room needed work and Smith estimates an additional $12,000 to $15,000 spent on the house to date. Included in that sum was the cost of installing central air conditioning, laying oak flooring in the living room, completely renovating the bathroom, updating the kitchen with new appliances and black granite counters and the purchase of six rooms of furniture.
Smith admits the biggest challenge was working around the home's diminutive measurements. Every piece of furniture had to be scaled to the individual rooms.
For example, in the master bedroom, when choosing a suite of American Signature, he requested the cherry wood line in the smallest scale available.
In spite of the interior dimensions, Smith decided he would not be afraid to work with color on the walls. The kitchen and sunroom, for example are a striking shade of periwinkle, the guest room a deeper cadet blue and soft mauve graces the living room walls. Bead board in the bathroom and wainscoting in the kitchen add to the cottage feel.
Smith feels the home is the perfect fit for him and the friends he shares it with every weekend.
"I'm very proud of my labor of love," he said.
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Making a dream home
Dream element:: Ken Smith's home in northeastern Baltimore County is a delightful, one-story cottage that sits on 1 1/2 acres of lush and varied landscaping.
The backyard is outfitted with three seating areas, a large deck and above-ground pool.
Design inspiration:: Ken Smith notes that his interior decor is a "contemporary twist on cottage furniture." Fabrics are serviceable microfiber and duck cloth, while all pieces are scaled to the almost dollhouselike rooms in the cottage's total space of 990 square feet. Window treatments include duck cloth curtains with tabs as well as pieces of framed stained glass fitted to the lower casements.
Delightful variations on neutral shades of upholstery are encompassed in the whimsical, bright pastel colors of painted furniture in the sunroom. Here, against walls painted a medium shade of periwinkle blue, are tables and chairs spray-painted light peach with a wicker suite in a bright, fresh shade of green. Striped fabrics on the windows in this room pull the colors together. Calling his sunroom "beach-inspired," Smith says it is his favorite of the cottage's six rooms.
Surprise feature:: A 24-foot-by-24-foot garage, decorated with automobile parts, street signs and shelves of model cars houses one of Smith's favorites - a 1959 DeSoto, nine-passenger station wagon in mint condition.
Personal touch:: Loving to entertain, Smith has created a resortlike backyard for friends and family. Lush sea grass follows the periphery of his pool. A light-green canvas canopy shades an outdoor suite consisting of a long table and six chairs. High-backed woven chairs form a semicircle around a fire pit while brightly colored whirligigs placed in the ground dance in the breeze. A plaster statue of a serene-faced angel rests in a side garden.