Like more and more homeowners these days, Ron Brown and his fiancee, Susan Powers, have discovered their ideal living space hidden within the same walls they have called home for quite some time.
"After years of debating whether to remodel, buy an existing house or build new, we decided to remodel the kitchen," said Brown, 63, director of corporate relations at Towson University.
And just like a shopper who goes to the grocery store for one item and comes out with a full cart, one remodel lead to another, and another.
"The kitchen turned into a remodel of the powder room, stairway, and all new hardwood floors throughout [the first floor], a reconstructed stone fireplace and all new windows and sliders," Brown said.
The couple's home is part of a 20-plus-year-old townhouse community called Cromwell Station in northern Baltimore County. Brown purchased the two-story brick structure, which includes three bedrooms, a third-floor loft and a basement, in 1992 for $133,000. This past October, after seeing a neighbor's newly remodeled kitchen, he was convinced their home was just a simple renovation away from their dream.
Thanks to Brown and Powers' contractor, who patiently guided them, listening to their ideas and suggesting all the materials needed, the process was indeed a smooth one and cost about $50,000.
Brown said he feels "absolutely terrific about the remodel," and had he known ahead of time how easy it would be to work with the kitchen designer and contractor — with the creative input of his fiancee — he would have "done it years ago."
The front entrance of the 20-by-40-foot townhouse opens onto a small foyer leading directly to the kitchen. A bay window provides abundant light to the kitchen, which includes cherry wood cabinets with granite countertops, a 30-by-38-inch island unit of the same materials, stainless appliances and a backsplash of white subway tiles.
"Our contractor suggested rails of lighting placed under the cabinets," said Powers, 60, a kindergarten teacher at William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School in Harford County. .
It was these little suggestions by the contractor that made all the difference to the overall design, especially the addition of extra counter space and, above it, another cherry cabinet with glass doors. Powers uses this cabinet to display her collection of crystal stemware. A pass-through above the kitchen sink frames the great room beyond it and draws the eye back to sliders that open onto a 14-by-14-foot deck and the woods behind it.
Area rugs on the oak floor define the great room's living and dining area. After living with white walls for more than 20 years, Powers suggested color. In the great room, on an angled wall adjacent to the sliders, the couple chose a Wedgewood blue shade, which offers a pleasing contrast against a travertine stone fireplace for what Ron Brown calls "an Italian villa feel." Above the fireplace hangs a framed print by Richard Harryman titled "Annapolis on Ice." The various shades of blue in the print complement the wall color.
Wedgewood blue is also on an opposite wall, against which sits a mahogany breakfront. The remaining walls in the great room are painted eggshell with white ceiling molding and baseboards. The decor of the great room is a combination of transitional and traditional. A camelback sofa sits against one wall next to a round mahogany end table, and a tuxedo-style floral sofa rests in the middle of the room. A generously stuffed easy chair sits next to it.
"Ron has his comfy chair and I have the sofa with many big pillows to relax and read a book while enjoying the fire in the winter," Powers said. "A wood-burning fire gives a room a special coziness."
That same coziness is present in the home's third-floor loft overlooking the second-floor office the couple share. There's room for a bed, two bamboo and floral-upholstered side chairs, a coffee table and a flat-screen TV next to the home's second fireplace. Some improvements to the loft is next on the project list, as is the basement.
"The basement could be made into a very nice family room," Powers said. "It is currently being used as storage for many items from our combined adult lives, as well as those of our grown children, an example being two pianos."
The couple believe the renovations have updated the first-floor interior, especially in the kitchen, where company gathers around the large island.
"With the help of a professional kitchen designer and an unbelievably talented and dedicated contractor, we were able to change substantially the look and feel of our home," Brown said. "It is much brighter and it feels remarkably larger."
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