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Dream home

Creating a classic cottage in Lutherville

For The Baltimore Sun
He remembered the house from his childhood as a pretty cottage. Decades later, he made it just that.

Jack and Tracey Santry proved it is possible to go home again when they left their longtime home in Ellicott City and moved back to northern Baltimore County, where they both grew up.

"We had been looking for five years when we found this house," said Tracey Santry, who grew up in Towson.

Her husband, who grew up in Lutherville, remembered the house from his childhood. He thought it was a pretty little cottage back then, but in truth, it was just an early 1960s, two-bedroom rancher that had been minimally updated by a previous owner.

Still, it sat on an almost 1-acre corner lot of Lutherville property.

The Santrys paid $420,000 for the stone house in February 2012, and it served as a home for their two grown children until April 2014. Then the couple decided to begin extensive renovation to make it a real cottage they could be proud of.

The first job was to gut the interior walls. They would expand on the rear south-side interior to create a new kitchen and family room wing, where an exposed wall of Butler stone stands as a reminder of the home's original exterior footprint. They also added a mudroom that opens to a two-car garage.

Tracey Santry, a 54-year-old interior designer with the Santry Design Group in Ellicott City, knew exactly what she wanted for both the exterior and interior architectural design.

"We didn't want to downsize; we wanted a house that was designed for the way we live," she said. "So we put thoughts to paper and hired architect Jonathan Rivera. The floor plan was ours; he suggested we keep the stone in the house."

What the Santrys have after the interior gutting is an open 3,850-square-foot living space all on one level. In addition to the family room, kitchen, mudroom and Tracey Santry's office at the south wing of the house (measuring 50 feet wide by 30 feet deep), the center portion of the layout includes an expanded living room, dining room and Jack Santry's home office. A long hall leads to the home's north wing with a master suite and two large guest rooms.

Double gables were placed on the exterior front of the house, and a portico-like entrance was created by the addition of four columns and an arch leading to double front doors. All of the windows were replaced with multipaned bays at the front with new board-and-batten shutters.

At last they were able to re-create the cottage look that Jack Santry, a 58-year-old investment manager and founder of Court Place Advisors, remembered from his youth. Adding to the house's charm is a front garden filled with coreopsis, roses and Shasta daisies.

The home's interior is filled with classic, traditional furniture. Most of the upholstered pieces have been purchased specifically for that look. Textured wool sisal rugs lie on white oak flooring. Many of the wood pieces of furniture had been kept at the couple's Ellicott City home, some of them antiques and heirlooms. Classic pieces, modern accents and plenty of natural light are the hallmarks of Tracey Santry's design style.

The Santrys wanted an all-white kitchen with wood cabinets painted, not glazed, white. A 10-by-42-foot kitchen island with a quartz countertop is at the center of the bright room; the base cabinets have deep drawers for storage. Blue-and-white ceramics sit on open shelves, some behind glass cabinets. The stainless-steel Jenn-Air appliances include a 36-inch professional range cooktop. Santry calls her kitchen "fresh, clean and timeless."

The same can be said for the family room, where traditional furniture with bold accents is grouped around a 42-by-42-inch dark walnut cocktail table. The gas fireplace here features carved molding surrounding the hearth and mantel, as well as forming the framework for a wide-screen TV resting above it. On either side, large windows measuring allow for plenty of natural light.

A departure from the neutral colors of the family room, Tracey Santry's office is painted a pinkish-coral shade — a custom color she mixed. The white ceiling and floor molding, together with all white furniture, make for a pleasing contrast against the walls.

The spacious and open living and dining rooms in the center of the home's layout showcase a return to classic styling and feature timeless pieces that include a 60-inch round cherry dining table with two 18-inch leaves, cherry Chippendale chairs and a reproduction Sheraton buffet. The dining suite is positioned ahead of a 15-foot, floor-to-ceiling bay window.

A linen Chesterfield sofa is a standout in the living room and is placed in front of a five-bay window looking out onto the backyard, which abuts a wooded area.

The master bedroom suite reflects Santry's philosophy that bedrooms should be serene and peaceful. Amid walls painted a pale blue with white trim, the four-poster bed is dressed in linens of textured white along with porcelain blue medallion-printed pillows and bed skirt. A tall burled-wood armoire from Ireland takes its place among a white dresser and end tables.

When the Santrys chose to remodel and reconfigure the house's floor plan, they made it virtually unrecognizable from the rancher they bought and more like the dream cottage they wanted.

"This is not a cookie-cutter house," said Santry. "This house is perfect for the way we like to live and entertain."

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Making the dream

Dream realized: The Santry home, set in a bucolic Lutherville neighborhood, seems set apart from the rest of the world. Yet Interstate 83, the Baltimore Beltway and the shops, services and eateries of Green Spring Station are all with five minutes of their home. Most importantly, the couple love being near family, especially their daughter, Maggie — who is soon to make them grandparents for the second time — and their son, Peter.

Dream design: "I wanted the house to have large rooms and a lot of molding," said Jack Santry. Tracey Santry quotes a favorite designer, Billy Baldwin, saying, "Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style." To that end, she enjoys surrounding herself with classic pieces of furniture, many of them Colonial reproductions, that she infuses "with colorful pops of interest."

Dream projects: The outdoors is the focus of the Santrys' future home projects. They plan on more exterior designing and landscaping, along with building a screened porch and stone patio. 'I love to garden," said Tracey Santry, who is planning both a vegetable and cutting garden. "My dream garden [will have] colorful hues throughout the entire year."

Dream collection: Tracey Santry's father is a painter with works spanning over 40 years. She has received his watercolors and oils for birthdays and at Christmas, and displays them throughout her home. One of her favorite pieces is a painting of an old leather-bound book with a large seashell resting on top of it, which she calls "exquisite." "He has given me painted portraits of my children, my dogs [and] landscapes," she said.

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