There is a small area in Northwest Baltimore where, beyond an imposing wrought-iron gate, a narrow lane provides access to 18 homes of different sizes and styles. Color abounds here, by way of a variety of flowers, bushes and trees showing on the front and back lawns of each house.
Ashley Long's home is a two-story, Victorian-style structure, with six large columns on a stone front porch and a symmetry of door and windows that is reminiscent of a gentleman farmer's home.
Inside, a series of arches extending beyond the front door to the end of the 74-foot-deep home, along with a heavily molded, squared-off entrance to the living room and dining room, suggests a Southern warmth and gentility emblematic of Long's Tennessee heritage.
"I like 'Southern Victorian farmhouse-style," said Long. "My brother calls the front area the 'parlor.'"
Long, a labor and employment attorney, and her then-husband purchased the newly constructed home for about $625,000 in 2004.
The main level consists of a master bedroom and bathroom, living room, dining room, powder room, kitchen, breakfast room, family room, and mudroom. Three bedrooms and two full baths are on the second level, while the basement level consists of a laundry room, her 11-year-old daughter Emma's studio room, a home office, gym, full bathroom and the piece de resistance — a large area that she and her daughter refer to as their "glam lounge."
A complete departure from the traditional décor of the rest of the home, the lounge was designed by Steve Appel and Amber Capello of Nouveau Contemporary Goods to fit the homeowner's desire for a girlie hangout for her and her daughter to enjoy and a fun spot to entertain friends.
A vision in pink wallpaper speckled with golden medallions, chandeliers, mirrors and a white leather boudoir sofa, the area was "no small undertaking," Long says, crediting the designers for their "hard work, inspired ideas and endless energy."
The heart of the home is the kitchen and the breakfast and family rooms, where walls are covered in a buttercup-colored Benjamin Moore wall paint called Westminster Gold. Found throughout the entire first level, the color achieves country warmth, even as it works off the elegance of white molding and trim and the coffered ceiling of the family room. Roman shades decorate the multipaned windows here and in the kitchen. Flooring throughout the main level is maple, a wood that Long loves for its golden finish.
Built-in units are a major feature in the first level, including in the family room, where one fills an entire wall. Painted white to match the room's trim, the piece features a large center section flanked by two smaller sections. Placed on the upper shelves are crystal pieces sent to Long by her brother, who lives in Sweden. There is also space for a collection of Tennessee pottery.
The traditional furniture throughout the almost 5,000-square-foot home was purchased mainly from North Carolina. There are a few family heirlooms, such as a marble-topped oak cabinet in the family room and a mahogany Roman-style side chair in the the master bedroom.
A second built-in unit occupies a wall in the formal dining room. Built of cherry, it holds silver and crystal while forming the backdrop to an inlaid oak, single-pedestal table, chintz-covered high-back chairs and a crystal chandelier.
"I adore Emma's room," said Long of the second-level bedroom occupied by her daughter. "I know I would have loved a room like that growing up. [With] the pink and green, the two chandeliers and her own bathroom, what's not to love?"
Dear to Long and her daughter are the framed pieces of artwork hung throughout the three levels. All executed by her uncle, Noyes Capehart, the works take the form of paintings, woodcuts, etchings and pen-and-ink drawings. Most feature a written commentary at the bottom corner, a chunk of narrative that makes up an artist's diary. Many of the works are hung gallery style along either side of the hall.
"I am so proud to have a part of him here with me," said Long about her father's younger brother, now living in Boone, N.C. "I get to live with these treasures every day."
Long's favorite room in the house comes as a surprise.
"Oddly enough, I really enjoy my laundry room, which I refer to as my wrapping room," she said. "While a third of the space is dedicated to laundry, the remainder is comprised of cabinets, drawers and pegboards that house wrapping paper, ribbon and decorations for gifts and for the holidays.
"I spend countless hours at the worktable in there. I guess it's not so much the room, but the memories that are made as a result of the work product that comes from that room that are so special to me."
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Making the dream
Dream realized: "[This] is a happy house, with everything we want and need; a perfect fit for us and our family, who are frequent visitors and guests," said Ashley Long. "I have decorated it, and [then] Emma and I have redecorated it, to reflect who we are and what we like. Our home has changed and developed along with us, and that has been a fun and rewarding experience."
Dream location: Long finds the neighborhood, near Mount Washington, a great location for her and her 11-year old daughter. They are close to school and friends, and within easy walking distance to many conveniences, such as a bakery, grocery store and coffee shop.
"At the same time," she said, "once you drive through the gate, you are in a quiet, safe and serene setting." She also likes the little park at the end of the 18-home neighborhood, adding, "We all enjoy walking down there and up the trails. Emma likes to climb to the top of the hill and enjoy a picnic together."
Dream exterior: The front of the home is landscaped with boxwood, topiary, annuals and a pink dogwood tree. In the rear of the home, there is a large deck off the family room and a large patio. Along the side of the home is a playhouse that is well-appointed and air-conditioned, where her daughter can bring her friends to play. The gated community also provides a safe street on which they can ride their bikes and play.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun