Dream home: Cozy in the country

February 07, 2010|By Marie Gullard | Special to The Baltimore Sun

At the threshold of Susan Skiles' Carroll County home, a sweet aroma wafting from the kitchen almost always greets visitors. She loves to bake, and just about any tasty treat imaginable may pop from her oven at any given time.

However, there is more to this engaging greeting than the act of baking."A house is a reflection of your personality," said the petite 59-year-old, who sells fire protection equipment. "People are going to remember if they were welcomed and warmed."

Skiles, who grew up in Baltimore City, always dreamed of country living. She moved into her Manchester Farms home this past September, after months of watching it being built.

"I was up here every day," she recalled. "I was so excited to see my dream home unfold."

Her dream is a 1,900-square-foot, ranch-style home with a full basement. Its stone facade faces south. This was a must for Skiles, who had to have the sunny side of the street.

The purchase price for the home was $389,000, which, in addition to three bedrooms, three full baths, a large kitchen, family room and office, included a sunroom bump-out. Here, under a cathedral ceiling and surrounded on three sides by large windows, Skiles has placed her maple dining room suite. An oak rocker sits in one corner of the room, and it is from here that she can look out over the farmlands and hills of Manchester.

"I call this room my snow globe because, when the snow falls, [you] feel like you're in the middle of the storm," she said.

As if on cue, snow begins to fall, heavy and fluffy.

Cherry-stained oak floors and cherry cabinets in the kitchen provide a rustic and cozy look in contrast to the sunroom.

Each of the home's three bedrooms, one of which belongs to her roommate, Nancy Rosenstadt, features delightful quilts on the beds and airy lace curtains on the windows. Skiles' own bedroom suite - a gift from her boss - is of rich mahogany, its four-poster bed taking center stage in the spacious room.

Susan Skiles shows off the collection of a lifetime in the home's full basement. Here, several glass cabinets and hung glass units display Baltimore Oriole Brooks Robinson memorabilia she has been collecting from 1957 to 1975. Included in this treasure trove is a signed bat and framed jersey hanging beside shelves with Oriole rulers and cracker boxes, score cards, statues of the 1970 "Dream Team," cardboard megaphones, photos of Robinson as a child personally given to Skiles, and team yearbooks from 1960-1971.

Steps beyond the Brooks Robinson shrine, Susan Skiles has created a delightful, toy-filled playroom for her seven grandchildren when they come to visit. The full bathroom adjacent to the playroom has been decorated in a "Finding Nemo" theme.

Skiles becomes animated when talking about the home she says will be her "last stop before heaven."

"It is so wonderful to have a place where large families can gather," she said. "A house with so much open space for everyone to enjoy and chocolate chip cookies in the oven is indeed a dream home."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it at homes@baltsun.com.

Making a dream home

Dream element:: Susan Skiles' rancher sits high off the street in northern Carroll County, the Bob Ward development of Manchester Farms. New homes there are surrounded by rolling hills, while individual properties have been designated reforestation areas. Several upright tubes on Skiles' half-acre of land protect young and vulnerable trees that will grow into a lush, wooded area.

Design inspiration:: A great lover of country living and style, Skiles has retained and decorated using furnishings from her previous home in Hampstead. The majority of pieces are built of oak or knotted pine. Traditional-styled sofas, chairs and loveseats are upholstered in bold country plaids and deep, solid-colored fabrics. "Everything reclines," she said with a laugh, referring to her overstuffed, comfortable pieces, artfully placed in each room for the enjoyment of the views from the home's multiple windows. Framed prints of village landscapes, portraits and still-lifes on the walls add to a calming ambience enhanced by scented candles.

Personal touch:: Warm comforts are found around the house in displayed photos of Skiles' grandchildren, crocheted comforters draped over the furniture and homemade sweets on the kitchen counter.

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