The Stadlers' story is a tale of two houses on the same riverfront street in Sparrows Point and a dream that began when Tim Stadler was just a young boy.
"My parents had friends that we would visit about once a week that lived on River Drive Road," he recalled. "There was a house on the street that had a small airplane in the front yard. As a kid, I always had my parents drive me past the 'airplane house' on our way home."
Then, in 2001, when he was 21 and looking for a waterfront house, Tim Stadler came across one in a home magazine. Checking out its location, he was stunned to see it sitting next door to his boyhood "airplane house." His offer was accepted the same day.
In the summer of 2010, as he and his fiancee, Liz, were planning their wedding, a second house on the street went on the market, one he had had his eye on for quite some time.
"I had always told my wife-to-be that if the house ever went on the market, I would have to try to buy it," Tim Stadler explained. "Right before our wedding day, we placed an offer [of] $380,000."
However, with no takers on their current home, the couple, now married, took it off the market. Almost two years later, the owner of that second house, who was a real estate investor, suggested he would buy the Stadlers' house if the young couple would buy his. Even though they had just put a large addition on the back of their house, the Stadlers jumped at the opportunity and moved five doors away.
Their new home, which was custom-designed in the mid-1950s and remodeled in the 1980s, was in very good condition, with only some cosmetic problems to resolve. "We just changed things to our taste," said Tim Stadler, now 32 and an employee of Baltimore County,
The home's exterior, however needed no change. The two-level, modified A-frame is constructed of cedar shake siding. A long walk from the street to the house is lined with hosta and shaded by an old oak tree. Just inside the bright red door, the couple's dogs — Kirby, a 4-year-old pug, and Dakota, a 7-year-old greyhound mix — bark out their welcomes.
Beyond the slate floor of the small foyer, half of the home is open to the second level. An immense cathedral ceiling and two stories of windows provide a breathtaking view of the couple's quarter-acre of waterfront property and 60-foot pier with an anchored sailboat jutting out into the Middle River. Even the staircase to the second level, just inside the front door, has open risers allowing an unobstructed view of the entire first level.
"We love being on the water; the views are beautiful and the sunsets can be truly amazing," said Tim Stadler. "Even small chores such as cutting the grass are not bad when you get to spend the time out in the yard."
The portion of the first floor that is built beneath the second level, and thus with lower ceilings, contains a large combined kitchen and dining area. The furniture pieces are not only scaled but also are a perfect fit for bumpouts. The Danish-modern dining room table, chairs and hutch are built of mahogany and belonged to Liz Stadler's grandmother.
"The table is 4 feet wide and 4 feet in length, which expands to 8 feet," said the 29-year-old pediatric therapist. "It's great for parties."
The entire first level was remodeled in 2003 after damage from Tropical Storm Isabel. Renovations included a new kitchen of cherry wood cabinets, stainless-steel appliances and oak flooring throughout most of the first level.
The remodel also included a wood-burning fireplace covered with 1-inch ceramic tiles in neutral shades. Two bookcases, one on each side of the fireplace, look as though they were custom built.
"We found them at Target, and they fit like a glove," Liz Stadler said. Her husband's model-car collection is displayed on the shelves.
Living room furniture is contemporary casual upholstered in beige microfiber. The walls are splashed in soft yellow paint and, together with skylights on the A-frame portion of the ceiling, provide brightness throughout the home's interior.
Two bedrooms and two full baths are on the second level. The master bedroom is painted an olive shade with large pieces of driftwood hanging on the walls and wall shelving made from pipes. The guest bedroom features a cherry wood, Arts & Crafts-style bed covered with a colorful quilt.
When the couple are not busy with indoor projects they lounge outdoors on their deck taking in all of nature's beauty, especially the awesome sunsets over the water. Yet, whenever they desire, downtown Baltimore's amenities await.
"Every day I can watch blue herons, geese [and] ducks, and yet we are only 10-15 minutes from the city," Tim Stadler said. "We frequent the city for all of its restaurants, bars and attractions, then we come home to our little quiet oasis."
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Making the dream
Dream realized: "We never saw ourselves living in a normal, run-of-the-mill home," noted Tim Stadler. "We like things that are unique and that have a personal touch. We love the modern look, with our wall of windows looking out to the water. We also love the architecture and many different angles of the house. It's a one-of-a-kind house, and even though we did not design it, we have had a blast making it our own."
Dream location: Liz Stadler said there's much more to their neighborhood than just the views from their windows. "We like the fact that [our neighborhood] is comprised of a mixture of old couples, as well as young couples with families," she said. "All of our neighbors are so helpful and friendly. There are people who have lived here for generations, as well as people just starting out. I get a nice feeling when I see an old house that had been neglected get new owners that enjoy the area as much as we do. The houses get spruced up, and the people become a great part of the neighborhood."
Personal touches: "Our house has so many personal touches, including a kitchen backsplash made from pennies, a bed headboard made with [hickory] wood slices that were formally centerpieces on our wedding tables, and homemade artwork," said Tim Stadler. "It is a very modern house, and one with an awesome waterfront yard and a unique design."