A new approach to the Old World

Debora and Stefan Scagiarri take a 'fresh approach to an Old World feel' in their Centreville home

  • This is the dream home of Stefan and Debora Scaggiari. They're pictured in the living room of their Centerville home.
This is the dream home of Stefan and Debora Scaggiari. They're… (Algerina Perna, Baltimore…)
December 14, 2010|By Marie Marciano Gullard, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Along a main route in Centreville, just a few miles from Chestertown in Queen Anne's County, large and gracious homes sit back from the two-lane road. Many are framed by winter-bare branches. But 11 American boxwood bushes, trimmed into spheres, line each side of the brick walk leading to the columned front porch of the Scaggiari home.

This beautiful and symmetrical home, with its shuttered windows, gently sloping hip roof and front door crowned with a Palladian-style window, catches the eye at once.

Living in Annapolis prior to their move 12 years ago, Debora and Stefan Scagiarri were hoping to upgrade with their move to Centreville.

"I wanted an old house, [but] Annapolis was cost-prohibitive," says Debora Scaggiari, 56, a freelance interior designer.

And so, the couple headed south across the Bay Bridge, where they came upon their three-bedroom circa 1923 Dutch Colonial.

"It was a tired old house that needed love and attention, but I saw beyond all that," Debora Scaggiari says. "It was very sound and well built."

The couple paid $200,000 for the house with solid Craftsman construction and invested another $200,000 in updates that, aside from rewiring, were primarily cosmetic. They replaced the roof, added an in-ground pool, replaced all 40 of the windows and added landscaping to replace what Debora Scaggiari called "gnarled yews with a scary feel like 'Friday the 13th.'"

"I like the feeling of the Old World," she says, leading the way beyond the long center hallway to the kitchen at the north end of the house. The windows drew me to this house; I love the light."

The kitchen decor sets the style for the rest of the home with a soft, neutral color palette and eclectic furnishings, with an emphasis on French antique pieces. A Swedish-country tone prevails in the gray walls and wood furniture and accessories painted beige and white with interjections of aqua and black. An oak pedestal table painted white and plates displayed in a white wood shelving unit provide gentle contrast to the gray walls.

Whimsical, almost fanciful touches are found throughout the room, such as delicate white linen and satin table runners on a variety of second-hand chests painted white with aqua and black trim. Old, ornate birdcages, also placed on chests and cupboards, provide a conservatory feel in view of the large windows that allow light to splash over the area.

Glazed maple cabinets, gray granite countertops and a backsplash of gray marble subway tiles define a workspace as decidedly functional. There's a butler's pantry where the original kitchen was, and a bow-front chest perpendicular to the pantry is painted Swedish gray with celadon accents and glass knobs adorning the drawers.

As one moves from the kitchen into the dining room, a more formal tone emerges, thanks to walls painted charcoal above the chair rail and beige below. Silk draperies with fringe from the English company Osborne & Little fall to the original thick-planked cherry wood floors. A Hepplewhite-style sideboard displays Mattahedeh cream ware, French cherub pieces and Regency silverware. A Duncan Phyfe-style dining table with tufted back chairs rests under a Swedish crystal chandelier with custom-made shades.

French doors open from the dining room into the center hallway and the living room. The centerpiece here is a Wembach, 6-foot grand piano upon which Stefan Scaggiari, 62, a professional pianist, performs and practices. A brass plate above the keyboard bears the inscriptions, "A Gift from Mom and Dad" and "God's Love Enfolds You." The piano's jet black lacquer finish is a dramatic contrast to the room's beige-on-beige damask furniture.

A French gilt clock adorned with figurines sits on a French Chinoiserie table in front of the window, keeping company with a porcelain cupid and a handmade Father Christmas attired in white robes.

Debora Scaggiari's keen sense of style combines with touches of fantasy in a lovely Christmas display of her creation seen over the fireplace. A sparkling cornucopia is placed against the mantel's mirror while soft gold ribbon and beads drape over platinum fiddlehead ferns.

Debora Scaggiari beams with pride at the mention of the fireplace's "Christmas in Camelot" feel.

"This house is like something out of a movie, and it provides us with warmth and love," she said.

Living the dream

Dream element: The Scaggiaris' Dutch Colonial sits off of a two-lane road, surrounded by private property, in Centreville, a small town on the Eastern Shore. Large windows coupled with topiary-like boxwood give the home's exterior a handsome appearance.

Interior design: Fanciful design illustrates what Debora Scaggiari calls "a fresh approach to an Old-World feel," as found in neutral tones and whimsical pieces. "I've done a lot of visual merchandising display work, which is why I enjoy creating vignettes," she notes of soft table and wall arrangements that showcase treasure pieces with ribbon, feathers and beads.

Alternate design: In contrast to the fantasy feel of the rest of the home, the sunroom, with its 14 large windows, is decorated in hunt-country style. Paintings of corgis (the couple owns one they've named Laddie) along with old French engravings are hung on the walls here, while equestrian toile covers the furniture. A light marble bust sits atop a pile of books, contrasting with the dark gray paint on the interior wall. "Our old Colonial is from a period I love — modest and yet ensconced in grandeur," Debora Scaggiari said.

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