Jeffrey and Janet Plum are bona fide Anglophiles, though both were born thousands of miles from the shores of Shakespeare's "scepter'd isle."
Wearing their love for all things British like a badge of honor — or like the full suit of armor displayed in their marbled-floored reception area — there would be no doubt about the architectural design of their custom-built home in northeast Baltimore County.
"We got a magazine with Tudor-style drawings," said Jeffrey Plum, a 59-year-old attorney who met his wife, Janet, when they were both working at Baltimore's Center Stage. "We fell in love with one of the designs, ordered the plans and put out bids for a general contractor."
In 1988, the couple purchased two acres in Kingsville for $34,000. The completed custom-built home with three bedrooms, 21/2 baths and a study on a second floor, and a great room, den, dining room and kitchen on the first, totaled $250,000. By today's standards, the couple knows how lucky they are to have ventured into this project 22 years ago.
Two acres of wooded land satisfies the Plums' desire for privacy while their Tudor-style home fulfills their mutual dream of owning an English country manor home without leaving Maryland.
The English character of the home's exterior provides the feel of stumbling onto an outdoor movie set. Heavy chimneys jut from patterned brickwork. Ornamental half-timbering on stucco defines the second level, as do heavy-looking gables, all under a sharply pitched roof. Tall narrow windows in groupings reflect the turning colors of the tall trees around the house.
The home's 3,300-square-foot interior unfolds on either side of a marbled reception area furnished with an imposing grandfather clock. A full complement of medieval armor — a warrior tall, from foot to white-plumed, helmeted head — stands at the base of a winding oak staircase that leads to an overlook offering views of the great room and family room.
The rear of the first level comprises a long and narrow kitchen featuring cherry-wood cabinetry and Corian countertops. The kitchen segues into the dining room, where Jacobean flower print wallpaper has been placed above chair rail and below ceiling molding, both painted in hunter green. Below the chair rail, the walls are painted a deep shade of buttercream. The wall treatments complement dining room furniture in inlaid mahogany. Pictures of Chinese prints and paper cuttings line the walls.
A black lacquer, tri-fold Chinese screen separates dining room and great room. Representing the four seasons, lovely flowers in vases of mother of pearl and every imaginable color of jade are placed upon each panel.
"Just about every room has pieces from our travels," said retired schoolteacher Janet Plum, pointing to a highly detailed embroidered Japanese kimono hung above the great room's white marble fireplace. "Most of our family heirlooms are from my mom and dad's travels. The inlaid pictures in the Great Room came from Germany along with various figurines. We also have inlaid tables from Egypt and Italy."
All of these travel mementos, hanging on peach walls, accent a traditional white and flowered tonal sofa and love seat. A pecan game table sits at a row of long, beveled-glass windows. A set of identical second-story windows rises to the great room's 20-foot cathedral ceiling.
Across the hall reception area, the den boasts a double hearth, brick fireplace, wooden masks from Africa and a didgeridoo and boomerang from Australia.
"The conservatory is my favorite room," Janet Plum said, leading the way back to the rear of the home. "We added it on three years ago. It is a perfect place for reading, entertaining, and just observing nature. In the winter, it is especially magical when it is snowing. My orchids are generally blooming at that time so I have the tropics inside and the snow outside.
"This is our dream home for basically three reasons. We love the privacy, being close enough to neighbors yet surrounded by nature to make it feel secluded. Secondly, our home is a great place for entertaining as we are gearing up for a big Halloween party. Lastly, it reflects our love of traveling. In every room I see something that reminds me of a country we have visited."
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Making the dream
Dream element: "This is our dream home for basically three reasons," says Janet Plum. "We love the privacy, being close enough to neighbors yet surrounded by nature to make it feel secluded. Secondly, our home is a great place for entertaining as we are gearing up for a big Halloween party. Lastly, it reflects our love of traveling. In every room I see something that reminds me of a country we have visited."
Design inspiration: With the couple's love of anything English, the interior layout is furnished in both authentic items from their world travels and fine English reproduction furniture. An hallmark of the elegant English country decor is a grandfather clock that marks the hour, quarter- and half-hours with the deep and rich tones of Westminster chimes.
Best move: The Plums are thrilled that they got such a great deal on their custom-built home and the land it stands on. They also shake their heads at the $350,000 construction cost of the conservatory in 2007, which was more than they paid for the construction of their entire house in 1988.