When Stephen "Steve" Reilly headed to Sweden on a Fulbright Scholarship after earning his bachelor's degree, he expected to return stateside with a master's degree from Uppsala University.
He did. He also returned with his bride-to-be.
Emily Merson-Reilly, raised in England and Australia, was earning her master's degree at Uppsala, after her graduation from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. They met in one of the classes, and married in 2000.
A year after their wedding, the two founded Global Experiences, which partners with 50 universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to provide professional internships in 11 cities around the world. Based at 1401 Annapolis St. in West Annapolis, the company's staff of over 30 people work from four continents. Emily is the company's CEO and Steve is its president.
With James Guth, a friend from Broadneck High, Steve is also a partner in the firm, Chesapeake Painting Services, with 20 employees.
Shortly after their oldest child, Jared, now 16, was born, the Reillys moved from a house they owned on Prince George Street to Sydney, Australia. There Brendan, now 12, and Charlotte, 10, were born. Jared and Brendan attend the Severn School; Charlotte goes to Broadneck Elementary.
The family is completed by Bronte, a large, friendly Golden Retriever.
Since their marriage, Steve has traveled to nearly 50 countries to promote the couple's vision of "making a difference in the world involving education and travel.
While still living in Australia, the Reilly couple quizzed each other about the best place to raise their growing brood. Steve and Emily each held a sheet printed with the words "Sydney," "Annapolis" and "Park City, Utah." Those are their three favorite places — Park City is on the list because they enjoy skiing there. The two had to list the towns in order of where they wanted to live next.
Steve, a Cape St. Claire native and graduate of Broadneck High and Salisbury State University, came stateside in October 2006 to house hunt. One day, he visited eight houses including the Reilly's current home. He was inside the six bedroom 3 ½ bath residence for 12 minutes when he made a decision. "It's out of our price range, but I'm buying it," he said.
Emily, still Sydney, concurred when Steve gave her a virtual tour. They bought the house that December and moved in during the following February.
"It's a nice, close-knit neighborhood here," he said of the small community in which they live. "It has a community beach just a block away. Our kids live there all summer long. We have a boat slip and we can view the water – Deep Creek, the Magothy River and the Bay from our bedroom window."
They counted aloud how many children lived in the small neighborhood. Several dozen.
Since moving in, the Reillys have had a desk built and a stone patio installed with an outdoor kitchen. The kitchen has been redone with gray-veined white marble tile backsplashes, white and gray stone countertops, cherry stained wooden cabinetry and island, plus brushed stainless steel appliances with black glass or doors and trim.
"The living room has been redone several times," said Emily. "Chesapeake Painting put in the built-ins."
The exterior of the house, near the waterfront in Arnold, is sheathed in gray siding with white trim, except for a section encompassing the front door and an arched foyer window on the second floor. It is composed of stacked stone. The motif continues on the rear patio with the low, stacked stone walls lining one side of the flagstone patio.
The Reillys and Bronte greet their guests as they step into the foyer. A staircase ascends to the second floor.
To the immediate right is a pair of closed French doors leading to a sitting room. "It's the perfect place to read," said Emily. "When the doors are closed, our children understand that means: 'No kids! Invitation Only.'"
A room to the left, originally a bedroom, is the family's "art space."
It is filled with carefully stored art supplies — and plenty of games, too. Paintings and drawings are displayed on an easel and suspended on a pair of wire "clotheslines" attached to one wall.
Near the rear of the house are the kitchen and an informal dining area. A large set of double doors slide open, revealing a large screened-in porch with its own dining set and wicker armchairs.
A family living room with a fireplace is close to the kitchen. The blue and cream patterned carpet is rimmed with a couch, ottoman and armchair. White built-in cabinets line one wall. Displayed on the shelves are art objects, prints and family photos. On one shelf a set of letters spell R-E-I-L-L-Y.
A formal dining room features a handsome table with an intricate, hand-carved, beveled edge that complements the fancifully carved high back chairs and armchairs.
Family Photo Gallery
We headed up the stairs. At the top, the wall displayed numerous family portraits and photographs, some in a multi-photo format, all encased in 17 sleek black frames.
Upstairs, the couple has recently redone the flooring in the hallway and the bedrooms. Jared's room was getting a makeover as the visitors toured the house.
Charlotte's room, at first glance was all-white furniture accented by a blend of white, pale orange and glacier blue. It is really a quiet riot of rainbow colors, from her name spelled out in wooden letters over the double doors of her closet to the painting of a pair of elephants guarding the top bunk.
The upper bunk was a single size, while the lower bunk was almost a double.
Brendan's room sported walls of neutral gray accented with broad stripes of red, white and blue on one wall, painted above a framed, artistic abstract patchwork of the American flag.
Steve and Emily's room has a slightly vaulted ceiling and walls of pale, pale pistachio. The wooden sleigh bed is cocooned with snowy white linens patterned with light gray designs. The room's rugs echo the theme of gray and while in modern geometric patterns.
In one corner, a fireplace, framed with white and gray marble, and with a marble bench, has a pass through feature, so its warmth can also be experienced in the master bathroom — especially for the person relaxing in the oversized tub.
The lower level features an entertainment room. Surround sound equipment has been built into the walls. Lights are strung on the cheerful blue wooden bar and several black stools are pulled up, awaiting the next pour. The suede textured L-shaped couch is situated for comfort, conversation and watching the flat screen TV.
Adjacent to the bar is a ping pong table, and, set into a wall in a large wooden frame is a wine storage rack.
One of the family's guest rooms is on this level, too, in a room decorated in an earth-toned color palette.
"We purchase most of our furniture online," Emily said, "though our selections are influenced by our travels."
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