The Ruzickas' two-story traditional home in the Perry Hall development of Bentley's Ridge bears a striking resemblance to several others on the block.
The couple couldn't care less.
"It's a cookie cutter on the outside," Janet Ruzicka said. "But it has everything we ever wanted on the inside."
The two looked for more than two years for the right home, checking out much larger houses. Many, they said, were "a waste of space for just two people."
Then they found Bentley's Ridge, and immediately knew it was the right place for them just from the model home.
Mel and Janet Ruzicka paid $410,000 for the four-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot home situated on one-third of an acre. A finished basement was included as a builder's incentive. The only additional expense besides furnishings was an outdoor deck, which cost $7,000.
"We wanted an open concept," Janet Ruzicka said. And so they got it, by way of the back half of their first level, which both agree is all the house they need, with kitchen, dining area, family room, powder room and sunroom making for a large, well-lit and cheery area.
The Ruzickas, who both work in finance, were on hand to view every phase of their home's construction.
"I watched it being built every step of the way," Janet Ruzicka said. "We could envision furniture layout from the model, [and] it was a big help."
On moving day, eight months ago, the couple brought very few of their prior furnishings, which allowed for the purchase of all new pieces. They agreed on traditional English Country, and Janet Ruzicka went to work decorating.
The dining area serves as "center stage" in the home's rear-level living area, because all rooms converge around it.
The kitchen features gleaming cherry wood, 42-inch cabinets, Corian counters and oak flooring. The couple purchased a large island unit on wheels to have the flexibility of moving it around for entertaining. The piece, like the cabinets, is constructed of cherry wood.
The rich beauty of the kitchen furnishings sets the tone for the rest of the area and the rest of the home. Working with her favorite colors, claret red and deep gold, Janet Ruzicka would often find herself unintentionally purchasing items that fit perfectly with her decorating vision. Such was the case with the brick-red color of the family room draperies and the red and gold floral print of the kitchen window valence.
"I took lessons from the [model home] decorator," Janet Ruzicka said, standing in front of a large, oblong mirror in the living room that reflects abundant light onto a space smaller than the back rooms. "This was a hard room to furnish."
Every piece — such as a pair of cherry wood and stripe upholstered side chairs — is beautifully scaled to the room. Here, as in every room, at least one angel is present, whether in the form of a three-dimensional piece or in a drawing or painting. The living room's angel sits on the shade of a table lamp — a chubby cherub blowing a trumpet.
A large, framed print of several baby cherubs at play hangs on the wall over the sleigh bed in the master bedroom. Gold and russet pillows lie on a light-gold, tone-on-tone bedspread. An intricate cast-iron table forged by Janet Ruzicka's son displays a cut-glass vase of flowers and family photos.
The guest room contains an oak four-poster bed with a brocaded deep-red and gold floral motif.
Mel Ruzicka has ample reason to be proud of his home office that features a cherry wood curio cabinet. His college letter, diploma, first pair of golf shoes and a baseball autographed by Brooks Robinson are among the many objects displayed on lighted shelves.
The fourth bedroom is Janet Ruzicka's office. In the corner, a bassinet decorated in green linens awaits the birth of her great-grandchild. How old are they?
The couple enjoys their home so much they often have to force themselves to vacation in their Ocean City condo.
"This house is our vacation," Janet Ruzicka said. "It's our happy refuge."
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Making a dream home
Dream element: The Ruzickas' home in Perry Hall, Baltimore County offers them everything they wanted in a single-family, traditional design. Beyond the front door and past a formal yet inviting living room, a short hallway leads to the open flow of the back portion of the home. This is where the couple does most of their living — in the kitchen, dining area with a bump-out sunroom, powder room and large family room.
Design inspiration: Janet Ruzicka chose a traditional, English country decor for each room of the home, focusing on the rich colors of dark woods with furnishings in shades of deep gold and claret.
Personal touch: Although the couple sold most of the furniture from their prior condominium, they kept sentimental pieces such as their bedroom set and several antiques that belonged to Mel Ruzicka's grandfather. These include a large trunk more than 100 years old and a carved oak cabinet. Family pictures appear throughout the house and a fine porcelain collection of miniature Victorian houses and shops sits atop an armoire in the family room. "This is the Department 56 Dickens' Village collection," Janet Ruzicka said, pointing out the workmanship of the lighted pieces such as The Old Curiosity Shop, Quilly's Antique Store and The Horse and Hounds Pub.