John and Leila Juracek's British friends tell them their 1929 Tudor Revival house in Baltimore's Homeland neighborhood is more like an English cottage than the country cottages in England.
The L-shaped exterior is of 18-inch-thick stone dressed in ivy and topped with a second-story, timber and stucco construction. Formal gardens grace the back of the home, while inside, leaded-glass mullioned windows with chintz and toile draperies, solid traditional furniture and needlepoint rugs impart a heady sense of living on the pages of an Agatha Christie novel.
Anglophiles to their core, the Juraceks appreciate entertaining, serving up iced tea and cookies under a canvas canopy on a flagstone porch.
"I call this patio our little summer living room," said Leila Juracek, a retired commercial Realtor, as she talks about new British serials on public television, their garden and the dream home they have lived in for almost 29 years.
"Each house is different in this neighborhood," added her husband, a retired executive with W.R. Grace & Co. "Ours was built by E.H. Glidden."
The Homeland neighborhood was designed by sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed Central Park. Inspired by the designs of the Olmsted brothers, John Juracek has planted his garden around old oaks, evergreens and boxwood. He has included crape myrtle, a magnolia and a sugar maple tree. While English Ivy hugs the front of the home, Boston ivy covers the back and all but hides the backyard garage, around which irises, roses, impatiens and hydrangea bushes bloom.
As the third owners of the home, the Juraceks paid $159,000 in 1983 for the house on a little over an eighth of an acre. Over the years, the upkeep has included replacing the slate hip roof and repair to some of the mullioned windows. They also painted and papered interior walls. The kitchen was updated three times, and they turned the attic into a beautifully decorated loft designed by local architect, Myrna Poirier.
The 3,000-square-foot interior consists of a living room, dining room, kitchen, sunroom and powder room on the first floor, three bedrooms, two baths and a study on the second level, and the third floor's loft. Two bedrooms are for guests and relatives while the couple's grandchildren and great nieces and nephews romp in the loft.
The walls of the Juracek kitchen are painted butter yellow — all the better to contrast with black-and-white tile floors and white cabinets bearing delft ceramic knobs. The other predominant color here is blue, as in the rich delft blue of large platters, blue-checked tablecloth, blue toile fabric inside cutout shutters at the windows, and finally, the dramatic blue of Silestone countertops specked with silver. Each accessory bears a story of its origin.
"I love stuff, and stuff loves me," said Leila Juracek with a smile.
Hand-stitched needlepoint rugs sit on the oak floors of the living room, sunroom and dining room. English rose-colored paint on the dining room walls deepens the rich tone of a carved mahogany table and sideboard filled with silver pieces. Rose-patterned china is stacked on shelves of the sideboard, and some pieces hang on walls against which are upholstered and monogrammed dining chairs. Black-and-white-striped swags contrast with the cream-colored molding of the windows and rose walls.
The living room is cozy, even as it abounds in all the trappings of a country cottage. Painted walls in soft yellow contrast with dark wooden window sills. Chintz draperies undulate inside the window frame and fall gently along the sides. Two traditional sofas in light green-on-green fabric serve as a showcase for floral needlework pillows that are found everywhere throughout the home. A four-tiered lacquer screen with floral blocks sits in one corner of the room, while a working fireplace, its hearth of delft tiles, is on an opposite wall.
The couple's sunroom is decorated in blue with slate flooring and stucco walls painted white, which was one of John Juracek's larger projects around the home.
A grandfather clock chimes in a corner of the front hall that has been wallpapered in large floral print.
The staircase to the second level leads to a landing where a stately Duncan Phyfe reproduction table sits under a gilt-framed mirror, glowing in the light of two hurricane lamps.
The master bedroom on the second level is painted in a restful shade of medium blue called Duchess' Choice. Once again, toile draperies adorn the windows, while porcelain lamps and vases of flowers provide a soft ambience throughout. A large brass bed is the recipient of a blue toile quilt. Here, and in the other bedrooms and in the red-white-and-blue nautical decor of the loft, needlepoint pillows can be found on floor and furniture.
"I have a lot of family, and that means a lot of gifts," said Leila Juracek. "But I think I have everything I need now."
John Juracek is quick on the uptake, inquiring, "What was that, dear?"
"Well, I might get a second wind," comes the reply.
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Making the dream
Dream location: The Juraceks appreciate Homeland and its stately houses in bucolic environs. "This is a very happy home," said Leila Juracek. We've had wonderful parties here — even a wedding 12 years ago. We get a lot of visitors June [through] September, and we've been on three house-and-garden tours."
John Juracek, an avid gardener, added, "Where we lost a tree [in a storm], we planted a garden."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun