The best way to view Peck and Patti Miller's home on Assawoman Bay is from the stern of their 22-foot runabout — to slice the water across the little cove and to see the gables of their cottage in Ocean City come closer and closer as people wave from the pier.
"Now this is how to experience it," said Peck Miller, a 55-year-old transplant from Towson who came to work "downy ocean" in 1973 when he was a teen and happened to stay. "Ocean City can be a noisy place. This area is called 'Little Salisbury' [because] it's a single-family community away from [the highway].
The Millers bought their 1,400-square-foot, ranch-style house in 1992 for $200,000, a bargain given the fact that it sat on 2½ lots directly on the wide lagoon leading out to the bay. For a decade the couple lived happily in the small house with a two-car garage, raising their three daughters and traveling by boat to work in their restaurants, the Kitty Hawk Grill and the Mellow Beach Sunset Bar & Restaurant.
"We loved the home we bought, and when we decided to renovate, we didn't want big; so we kept as much of the original as we could," said Patti Miller, 53.
What they did, in the style of a coastal cottage, was raise the original house five feet, add rooms and gables under a pitched roof on the waterfront portion and build a second story over a new ground-floor dining room and master bedroom suite.
The other two ground level additions were a foyer with staircase to the second level and a great room which they call their "all around room" with an attached deck directly on the water. Because the house was raised five feet, the view from downstairs windows gives the appearance of looking out on the water from a ship's deck. With the addition, the home now has 3,400 square feet of living space.
The couple also built a swimming pool and a pool house complete with living/sleeping quarters, full bathroom and efficiency kitchen.
Inside the main house, the decor is decidedly casual. This is a house meant to be lived in. Peck and Patti Miller proudly show off the bedrooms in the original part of the house, those belonging to their three grown daughters, Alison, Sarah and Kristen, where the brightly colored wall paint indicates their different personalities and trophies abound from their years of high school sports.
The Millers' galley kitchen is stylish and efficient with white country cupboards and appliances. Their countertops are man-made quartz.
The great room addition, under a cathedral ceiling of knotty pine, features as its centerpiece a semi-circular, sectional sofa in tan microfiber. The large dining room is furnished in a maple suite and has two tables — a large oval in the center of the room and a round table in the corner next to a huge picture window overlooking the water. The master suite off of the dining room boasts six floor-to-ceiling windows with plantation shutters overlooking the Ipe wood deck.
The second story addition includes a large living/family room painted bright yellow and a game room with pool table and an arched doorway out to a balcony. From there, one of the best — albeit breezy — views of the bay can be taken in.
While it was "a lot of fun doing the house," the couple decided in 2003 that it was time for a lifestyle change. The first thing they did was to let the restaurants go. "We were slaves to the business for a long time; we paid our dues and now we can give back," said Patti Miller.
The Millers remain very active in the community. Peck Miller, who also works as a real estate and development consultant, has served on the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Board for many years. As strong advocates for the arts, both serve on the Ocean City Cultural Arts Board and Patti Miller is a member of the Art League of Ocean City.
The couple said they are happy and fulfilled and their home reflects that feel and lifestyle.
"We evolved," said Patti Miller. "We did it our way and we were very fortunate. It took time, but that's not such a bad thing."
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Making the dream
Dream element: The Millers live in a cottage-style home, tucked into a lagoon off of Ocean City's Assawoman Bay. With a sailing catamaran, a personal watercraft designed by Hobie that only draws four inches of water and a 22-foot runabout, transportation up and down the peninsula is a cinch. A free-form pool — initially laid out with spray paint — and pool house also grace their property. The second-level addition offers stunning views of Ocean City. "Once you are here, you are so welcomed into the community," said Peck Miller. "This town really gets behind you."
Dream exterior: The house is built of Hardie plank with a gabled, shingled roof. White trim on windows and doors is a dramatic contrast to the gray siding. Lovely palm and sea grass as well as a side pergola topped with flowers make for ideal landscaping. Six Adirondack-style chairs sit around a fire pit at the foot of the front garden.
Dream interior: Casual and comfortable define the decor. Traditional pieces include a piano in the great room and framed landscape prints on the walls. A wood-burning stove built into what used to be the exterior side of the original home keeps the great room toasty all winter. "Our addition was for all ages of our lifestyle," Patti Miller said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun