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.
"We have both been members of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee, and Corynne is currently the treasurer," says Markle. "We have both attended four Democratic National Conventions. [I] served officially as a page in 1996 and Corynne as a delegate for John Edwards in 2004."
The cost of the makeover, including stainless-steel appliances, built-in access for an indoor elevator, oak flooring, vinyl siding, new roof and a new heating system, was $230,000.
"We turned a ho-hum into a humdinger," Markle says.
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Making the dream
Dream realized: "What we love about our home is that it reflects us," Corynne Courpas says. "If someone we didn't know visited our home and we were not there, they would be able to know us immediately. They would see our passion for politics. They would see our love of art, not just famous art, but also local painters, photographers and artisans that add so much to our community. They would know that we are associate residents of Baltimore and great fans of the Orioles and Ravens. Our huge open spaces upstairs demonstrate that we love to entertain big groups of people and enjoy spending time with our guests."
Personalizing the dream: Heirlooms and collectibles can be found in every room. Some of the items include a seat from long-gone Memorial Stadium, a student desk circa 1930, and delicate lace crochet work done by Courpas' Greek grandmother.
Dream makeover: "It was a great pleasure working with Corynne and Scott, helping them filter through their wants and needs," said Frank Baylor of Baylor CAD Drafting Service. "I tried to give them practical advice on weighing the merits of each and ideas on fitting them together for a balanced project.
"One of my favorite aspects was the conversion of a small, cold, dark garage that had become a catchall even as it served as Corynne and Scott's main path into the house. The renovation turned this into a sun-filled and airy entry that welcomes them home and does double duty as a staging area for frequent outdoor entertaining."