It began as a casual search for a vacation home on the water.
Sue and Tom Graham's main residence was in Jacksonville in Baltimore County. Each had a demanding job, and they grew weary of spending long hours in a car driving to and from the beach on summer weekends.
They soon learned however, that waterfront property in Anne Arundel County, as well as in many areas of Baltimore County, was well out of their budgeted price range.
"We looked at cabins and dumps, lots and shacks that sold for $400,000," said Sue Graham, 54, a clinical nurse specialist for medical-supply company Cook Medical.
Then, early in 2013, a realtor friend found them a jewel on the water — a traditional Maryland shore-style home on one acre at the edge of Seneca Creek in the Baltimore County area of Bowleys Quarters.
Built in 2004, the home was in impeccable condition. It was a true find, with water views from every window, a side deck, an enclosed sunporch and a long pier jutting into a wide segment of the creek.
The Grahams decided to sell their Jacksonville home, and they bought the 3,300-square-foot waterfront property for $742,000. From that moment on, in June 2013, the couple became full-time shore dwellers.
They have easy commutes from their new home. Tom Graham, 57, is owner of Clinical Resources, Inc., a medical-equipment provider, and he works in the Baltimore area. Sue Graham drives to and from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
But the biggest plus for the Grahams was the condition of their home. So perfect was their settling-in process that they needed only to place their furniture in the three-story home, which includes an unfinished lower level. Most of the windows are treated with Waverly-brand damask- and chintz-covered cornices, courtesy of the prior owners. The floors are oak, while their kitchen features glazed maple cabinets and a brown marble floor. Three large bedrooms each have their own bathrooms. A stone fireplace dominates the large family room. The Grahams easily integrated their Mission-style furniture into the traditional layout of the rooms.
Like most homeowners, they have a favorite place in their house.
"Definitely the sunporch with the wide view of Seneca Creek," Sue Graham said. "With the windows open, there is always a breeze." And with the windows closed, the sun keeps it warm enough to use for three full seasons.
"We spend most mornings, from June to October, sitting at the table [in the sunporch] drinking coffee [and] answering email. ... If we're working at home, we'll take our laptops and spend the day out there," she said. "When we have a party or entertain, the sunroom becomes the perfect beverage room, although sometimes guests tend to linger here and it can get crowded."
Entertaining is a priority for the Grahams, who have plenty of room to accommodate friends, their three grown sons and their grandson, 2-year-old Rainer Jacque Graham, who particularly enjoys playing with his grandmother's miniature Christmas villages.
"When my kids were little, my mom began giving me one house or building each Christmas," Sue Graham said. "[The village] got too big to set up all in one spot, so now I've set up three separate neighborhoods. Our grandson visits each neighborhood every day. He loves the children, puppies and Santa figures. He likes to knock on each door."
The Grahams have no regrets turning what was initially to be a summer home into their year-round residence. They both contend that waking up on Seneca Creek is tantamount to a two-week vacation each year, something they never imagined happening.
"Along with all of that, we only have one home — one house to pay taxes on," Tom Graham said. "One roof, one furnace, washer and dryer to repair and maintain."
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