Off historic Glyndon's main street, a dirt and gravel drive lined by old trees winds its way to the home of Todd and Karen Morrill.
The rambling one-story house, constructed of redwood and Butler stone, sits above multiple graduated terraces with flagstone patios and decks.
From the front, the home appears low to the ground and features three sets of 11-foot double doors. Warm lights from within reveal dark wood paneling, stone fireplaces, red bows wrapped around fir branches affixed to door frames and sprigs of holly on built-in shelving. A glance through the windows also reveals the house has a rectangular design with a center courtyard.
"You will see that every door opens to a courtyard or a patio," said Karen Morrill standing on the flagstone porch, attempting to silence her three barking dogs — a Jack Russell terrier, a chocolate Lab and a lumbering bulldog. "Pick a door, and come on in."
A long and open layout meets the eye, anchored by a central hall kitchen and dining room. Eleven-foot ceilings are brought together with a continuous line of molding, and just below the lines, a bevy of clerestory windows.
Seated at the dining room table, which is adjacent to a living area on one side of the room and an enclosed patio room on the other, Karen Morrill pulls out a book written by her home's architect, James Rose. The volume focuses on private gardens designed specifically to create intimate relationships among people, nature and architecture. Thrilled that there is a chapter dedicated to her home when it was built in 1960, she explains that Rose's gardens and houses were designed to be works in progress, built to propose a continuum of change.
Todd and Karen Morrill, owners of Morrill & Co., which deals in real estate brokerage, property development and renovation, bought the midcentury, contemporary-style, 3,900-square-foot home in March 2008. They paid $900,000 for the property on 40 acres, which includes a barn.
"We did a massive renovation on the house and didn't move in until August 2009," Karen Morrill said. "We built a new kitchen, put [on] a new roof, added new doors, windows, new teak and bamboo radiant-heat flooring and landscaping."
The Morrills and their staff of contractors also knocked out walls, put in new insulation, electric heating, recessed lighting, and added seven skylights and stained all of the home's fir paneling.
Karen Morrill estimates the cost of renovation at more than $500,000 and says she has no regrets. "I've had traditional houses all my life, and this is a radical change."
The home's interior includes a central kitchen, three living areas, a large entrance area, a dining room, four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a powder room. Furnishings showcase an eclectic collection of pieces that include antique Chinese, merged with Mexican, French and American designs.
Lamps with mica shades rest on furniture built of oak, pine, walnut, maple and mahogany. Chairs and sofas are overstuffed and pub-styled. Every fabric, from the rich tones of the upholstered chairs to a collection of Persian tribal rugs from the early 1900s to the 1940s, speaks to warmth and a homey embrace.
"Yes, from my beautiful courtyard to my warm kitchen, it certainly is an embrace," Karen Morrill said. "This is a house to cherish, and one that loves you back."
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Making the dream
Dream element: The Baltimore County home of Karen and Todd Morrill was built in 1960 by James C. Rose, a prominent 20th-century landscape architect and author. It sits on 40 acres of property, and its 11-foot window walls look out onto exotic gardens and, beyond, forest and trees with a clear view of nearby horse farms.
Dream design: Rose's designs were meant to illustrate a fusion of indoor and outdoor space. That he was inspired by the architectural design of Frank Lloyd Wright is evident in his exterior built around an inner courtyard, his use of natural materials, flat roof and cantilevered overhangs.
Dream interior: Karen Morrill is a painter of folk art. Her canvases, simple in subject with a touch of whimsy, hang throughout the home alongside a number of landscape and still-life paintings she and her husband have collected over the years. Her holiday decorations include organic materials. At other times of the year, she decorates with the flowers that grow in her garden.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun