A half-mile or so from the highest point on the Bay Bridge, heading east on U.S. 50 toward Kent Island, you can see a large green house at the water's edge, its 60-foot pier jutting into the bay.
The waterfront home of Ells and Jeanne Snyder is on a street where no two houses look alike, but all are equally attractive. The couple's journey to this peaceful spot began with a search for the perfect home — but not on the Eastern Shore side of the bridge.
"We'd been looking for six months on the other side of the bay, because we didn't want to deal with the bridge," said Ells Snyder, a 60-year-old partner in 700 South, a corporate catering company in Linthicum Heights.
However, the couple gave up their search in the Annapolis area after they found an advertisement for a little red frame house on a third of an acre on Kent Island. The stunning view of the looming Bay Bridge practically in their backyard clinched the deal for Snyder and his wife, a 58-year-old accounting office employee at a heavy-equipment dealership in Jessup.
They purchased the property, cleaned up the little red house and used it as a weekend retreat for two years. In 2010, they contacted architect Paul Paré to draw up plans for their waterfront dream home. The architect worked closely with Shore-Line Construction, a custom home builder based in Middle River, to create their new home at a cost of $625,000.
About a year later, in July 2011, the Snyders took possession of their Victorian-style two-story home with an exterior formed of saw-cut shake in a deep green shade. Today, they are taking their time decorating, slowly and carefully incorporating some old treasured pieces, a few new pieces and family heirlooms.
The couple have chosen to allow the 3,600-square-foot interior's architectural design to speak to them in terms of furnishings. Architect Paré has fashioned many rounded-off walls in lieu of sharp corners, sweeping wall and ceiling arches, round portholes and bay windows and, among other features, curvy glass blocks in an open master bathroom. There is a water view from every window.
Beyond the front hall, with its sweeping staircase to a partially open second level, the first-floor living area boasts a wall of windows beckoning the visitor toward the views of the bay, boats, buoys and land on the other side.
The living areas, with walls painted in sea blue, taupe and sand shades, consist of a family room and an enormous kitchen flanking a central dining area. The space appears to be under a canopy arched on four sides and supported by six white columns. The design is reminiscent of a beach cabana looking out to the sea. A long Mission-style table and wood chairs contrast warmly with light oak floors and the white trim at the ceilings, floors and windows.
"All rooms have a view of the water, and we try to keep everything light," Ells Snyder said.
And while the curtain-less windows are slightly tinted to keep out the glare of sky and water, interior lighting is soft and diffused as it complements the neutral microfiber furniture suite in the family room and the white-laminate cupboards and light granite countertops in the kitchen. Homey touches include a Victorian-era drop-leaf table and chairs at the kitchen window, a cherry credenza with an antique carved ivory box on it, and a maple cabinet at the doorway under a large painting of a heron.
At the top of the oak staircase with banisters of ornate wrought iron, the entrance to the coral-colored master suite is formal, with double doors under a Palladian-like window. A crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling in this anteroom between the double doors off the main hall to a mirror image of doors and window leading out onto an exterior balcony. Bathroom and master bedroom are located on either side of the anteroom.
A pair of white leather barrel chairs is placed in front of a large window in the bedroom.
"In the winter on Saturday mornings, we live up here," Ells Snyder said, looking toward the Bay Bridge. "Otherwise, we're out on the balcony."
A guest room and guest bathroom, both painted sea-foam green, along with a laundry room, exercise room and Ells Snyder's office, complete the second level.
The Snyders rent out the home's lower-level apartment to their son, Bryan, and his wife, Julie, and their two daughters. Another son, Greg, and his wife, Bridget, live nearby in Queen Anne's County.
All enjoy gathering at the home with its dock on the bay at the foot of the bridge. Ells Snyder recalls his architect commenting that it's "a nice, quiet place to sit and watch the world go by."
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Making the dream
Dream realized: The Snyders are thrilled that, at last, their waterfront dreams are reality. "Water activities entertain during the day, and the quiet serene sunsets relax you in the evenings," noted Ells Snyder. "At night, your attention is drawn to the colorful lights on the bridge as you watch the hustle and bustle of travelers making their way back and forth."
Dream room: "Our favorite room in our home is the great room on the first floor, which includes a combination of our kitchen, dining room and family room," he added. "The dining room separates the kitchen and family room, with columns to give it an open look but still very cozy for dining. This layout comfortably accommodates our family and friends when celebrating birthdays, holidays and special occasions."