Gerry Bailey calls the 13-room Dundalk home her castle. The casual observer might view it as an enchanting woodland home from the yellowed pages of a Victorian children's book, complete with a turret.
With the help of her daughter Amy, a real estate agent, she found a home that fit her requirements for a spacious kitchen. "I am a cook; I needed a large kitchen," explained Bailey, who runs her own business, Wonder Woman, which, among other feats of service to the public, gives cooking lessons.
Gerry Bailey bought the home in 2008 for $294,000. One of the very first interior standouts that hit her was a Tudor-like, floor-to-ceiling stucco fireplace in the living room. Intricately carved, the high mantel bore the crest of the "Bailey" family.
"If that just wasn't a sign that I should have it," she laughed, as though no other reason for the purchase could possibly exist.
Keeping every aspect of her dream home in the family, she hired her son-in-law to do rehabilitation work on the property for an additional $125,000 and was able to move in a year later.
The improvements to the home included outdoor landscaping, applying stucco to the interior walls, mending cracks in the ceiling, repairing and replacing second-story pipes and the construction of a completely new kitchen.
"The biggest problem with the house is that there is no central air [conditioning]," Bailey said, pointing out that she had two wall units installed on the ground level for $9,300. "I'll get the second floor done when I can."
The lack of central air conditioning is, at best, a minor annoyance to Bailey as she revels in and decorates every inch of her dream villa. As much as she enjoys the castle look from the outside, she basks in what she calls her "Mediterranean" décor.
Beyond the turreted vestibule, the eye is drawn to the warm yellow colors of the living and dining room walls, beyond which a distinctive stone arch separates the kitchen in the rear of the home from a small anteroom, powder room and door to a screened-in back porch.
In her kitchen, Bailey enjoys preparing meals with her six-burner stove and oven, nestled into a dark granite-topped counter, using ingredients from her garden. Other pleasures occupy her while cooking.
"My favorite thing to do is to look for the river of gold [highlights] running through the granite," she said.
Adding to the Provencal feel of the kitchen, with its granite floor and stainless appliances, is the butter cream glaze of the cabinets with their intricate molding detail. A matching, 6-foot-by-3-foot center island was a coincidental find from a local furniture and fabric store — its large table top once used, but no longer needed, for cutting fabric.
Other Provencal touches to the home's interior include flowered upholstered furniture, French country side chairs, painted buffets, French doors into the sunroom and stained-glass panels in many of the windows.
A favorite piece of Bailey's is a photo she took of Sienna, Italy, while on a vacation, now turned into a framed watercolor cityscape painted by artist friend, Pam Jones.
From her backyard deck, the view seems like an Impressionistic painting with a garden resplendent with ten varieties of brightly colored zinnias grown from seed, petunias, black-eyed Susans and vines of delicate passion flowers. Tomato plants, zucchini and cucumber vines are the vegetables to satisfy Bailey's culinary needs.
Back indoors, candles on each step of the staircase to her second level lead to country-decorated bedrooms with flowered bedspreads and cast-iron headboards.
"I live in a storybook home," said Gerry Bailey descending the staircase to the lower level. "And I am the princess."
Making the dream
Dream element: Gerry Bailey's 77-year-old, 13-room home is a spacious, whimsical, storybook-like structure situated on a wide Dundalk street of variously styled homes. Large back yards are the main feature of homes in the neighborhood. "[Residences] on this street were once the homes of executives at [Sparrows] Point," she said.
Design inspiration: Playing off the home's exterior, Gerry Bailey has opted for an interior design that is whimsical in its placement of flowers and vines over doorways and windows, with pale colored walls (some with murals, others glitter-splashed), arched openings and eclectic furniture from her old home and from consignment shops. Many of the wooden pieces, such as a library table and secretary, feature painted designs and flowers.
Surprise touch: The interior of the turret serves as the home's vestibule, where, against a ground of lavender painted walls, Gerry Bailey's friend, Pam Jones, presented her with a birthday gift — a pastel mural that presents a panoramic landscape of wildflowers in a meadow.