Most people will say that no matter how big the home, or how many levels and rooms inside, family and guests always seem to gather in the kitchen. Amy Askew, who has lived with her husband and children in their very large, Craftsman-style version of a Dutch Colonial in Roland Park, certainly agrees.
"This is where everything happens — where we prepare the food, where we eat almost all of our meals and where we have the really important conversations," she said, sitting at the 8-foot-long by 3-foot-deep kitchen table with an old barn door for a top. "I can see out the back deck and see the tree line, and the dogs are always at our feet. We can have a house full of people, and we always congregate in the kitchen. I love the openness, the lighting and homey feel that the room has."
While open and spacious, with 11-foot ceilings throughout its three levels, the homeyness and quaint feel of the circa 1901 house is palpable. From the curb at the street, up the slate walkway passing mature trees on the lawn, to the brick paving of the multicolumned porch, the house is an almost perfect example of the love and care the Askews have bestowed on it as only the fourth owners.
"The second owner put on the kitchen addition and the family room," said Amy Askew, a 47-year-old psychotherapist employed by Catholic Charities.
The family — husband Tim Askew, also 47 and CEO of Tissue Banks International, and three children, Jody 19, Henry, 17 and Sally, 14, as well as two Bernese Mountain dogs — all move comfortably about the home's three floors. The first level includes a formal living room and dining room on either side of a long central hall, a mudroom, family room, kitchen, study and powder room. The second level contains four large bedrooms and two full baths, while the third floor, once a separate apartment, features two rooms, a full bathroom and another kitchen.
"I always wanted a large country kitchen," said Amy Askew, who got her wish by way of the addition that boasts ceramic tile, light beadboard cabinets and a hefty, six-burner-plus-griddle, double-oven Jenn-Air range.
A few steps down from the kitchen, the family room is decorated in Mission-style furniture and showcases a massive gilt mirror over the fireplace, which was bought in Baltimore at an estate sale. A corner cabinet of cherry and a 61-inch flat-screen TV complete the room's casual style.
On the other hand, the living and dining room decor suggests casual elegance, with custom-made satin draperies on bay windows and Queen Anne-style furniture. The mantel in the living room over the fireplace is fashioned from a mammoth chunk of floor-to-ceiling marble that the previous owners purchased in Italy.
The staircase to the second level is at the end of the long center hall, making a turn beyond a landing with a large window and window seat.
When asked about the home, its location and the furnishings she holds dear, Amy Askew's thoughts overflow in detailed explanation.
"I love my bird nests that we have collected over the years," she said. "Of course, I love the artwork my kids have done, which is everywhere. I have many old photos of the kids that I hate to replace. I love to remember how they looked when they were younger. I also love sitting on the back deck, in the Adirondack chairs, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper. I love looking out at the trees that border our backyard."
She notes that the Roland Park house will always be her dream home, mainly because of the memories made there that she and the family share.
"I moved several times as a child, and I lived in numerous homes," she said. "Tim and I wanted to settle down in one place and create a home for us in a neighborhood that had sidewalks, open spaces, and where we could feel connected. I also wanted it to be large enough so our family and friends who live out of town could stay and visit, and be comfortable too. Those dreams have definitely come true!"
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