Dream home

Scott Markle and his wife Corynne Courpas stand in the living room of their dream home. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / January 25, 2012)

The fascinating thing about the Carroll County bilevel home of Corynne Courpas and her husband, Scott Markle, is its dual personality.

From the street, their home looks exactly as it did in 1977. It is only at the front door that the home expands, with rooms growing on and out.

This is no typical bilevel interior.

"This is a split-foyer on steroids," Scott Markle says, greeting his visitor. "Come on up!"

A sunroom, a great room with cathedral ceilings and a spacious master bedroom are some of the features that make the home unusual. A first-time visitor is likely to ask, "What happened?"

"I was single when I moved here in 1985, and the 1977 [split-foyer] style was plenty of house back then," says Courpas, a 57-year-old area manager for Performance Foodservice. "These houses were built with lots of insulation and built to be energy efficient."

But then, in 1994, she and Markle, a 50-year-old administrator at Catoctin Counseling Center in Westminster, married.

"I moved in and took over the place with all of my collectibles," he says.

Suddenly, the two-story, 40-by-26-foot bilevel or split-foyer — the names are interchangeable — was too small. Over the years, the couple recycled a great deal of their furniture while purchasing some new pieces in anticipation of moving into a larger house. And while they considered moving to the city, they realized that Carroll County was where they really wanted to be. Both love to entertain, and their backyard abuts county land that will never be developed.

In the fall of 2009, the two made the decision to expand. They hired a freelance draftsman and designer to come up with plans that would almost double the size of the split-foyer, to just under 3,000 square feet.

Th draftsman "came up with a list for us to consider [based on] our needs and wants," Courpas says. "We wanted larger closets, open entertaining, an ADA-accessible ramp on the side of the house, an open two-story addition [at the back of the house] and a downstairs bedroom suite with lots of closet space."

They gave the project the green light, and all of the items on their wish list became reality.

"I wanted a dome ceiling on the new great room," Markle says with a laugh. "But I settled for a cathedral ceiling."

The great room on the back of the house fulfilled their desire to have lots of large windows overlooking the land behind the house; inside, a working fireplace is straddled by built-in bookshelves across an entire wall. The cadet blue paint on the walls here, along with the crisp white trim on the windows, accentuates the view from the windows.

The adjacent kitchen, once the dining room, features an entire wall of glazed maple cabinets, across from which are cabinets and an island of the same material, with dark blue granite counters.

"We have no bar stools because we want the island to be a buffet and have a flow like a restaurant," Courpas adds. With open dining on one side of the kitchen and the open great room on the other, the couple has entertained as many as 75 guests at a time.

Three bedrooms on the original level now serve as a guest room, Courpas' office and a storage room.

The lower level of the original house, together with the expansion, has its own flow, with a hall into the master bedroom and bathroom, an additional sitting room and wide-entrance hall/sunroom.

The collectibles that Markle brought to the marriage reside beyond the French doors of his office, where walls and corkboards are covered with campaign buttons going back to the Eisenhower era. Both Markle and Courpas are politically active, and the office resembles a campaign headquarters.