Five months ago, Neil and Whitney Bourdelaise decided their future lay across the Chesapeake Bridge in a waterfront home in Queen Anne's County that was calling out to them.
The couple rented out their Severna Park home and relocated to a distinctive, barn-like structure on a half-acre with panoramic water views.
"We came from a split-foyer [design] home, that was expensive to cool, to this house on the water where we get breezes all of the time," said 30-year-old Whitney Bourdelaise, who runs a health and wellness business from their new home.
Neil Bourdelaise, 31, a sales manager for Met Life Home Loans in Columbia, found the house through an acquaintance at the Creig Northrop Team, a real estate company based in Columbia.
The large, two-story home with a loft and sloping red roof, situated on property cradled by pine and maple trees along the banks of Winchester Creek, was simply too good to pass up. The couple, who both grew up in Anne Arundel County, bought the home, built in 2004, and the property for $464,000.
If there were any reservations to living on the Eastern Shore and driving to and from Columbia every day, they were quickly assuaged.
"I thought I was going to mind [the commute] but it's only 45 minutes to one hour drive time and I get to cross three bridges," said Neil Bourdelaise. His wife, who feared their lifestyle might be disrupted, added, "We're just 25 minutes from Easton and 25 minutes from Annapolis."
Seated at a large table on their screened-in porch — a necessity for comfortable shore living and one of the first projects the couple took on — the couple said that the living has never been easier, in a place that feels like a constant vacation.
In addition to screening in the 35-foot-by-12-foot porch that spans the back of the house, the Bourdelaises installed hand-scraped oak flooring on the second-level living area and enclosed the third-story loft for their master bedroom. The couple said they spent about $15,000 on the updates, along with myriad cans of paint.
"The outside of the house is so farm-y, and the inside so contemporary, it's quirky," said Whitney Bourdelaise.
After climbing the stairs from the first-floor entrance hall, the sight of the grand living area — every bit a great room — is a jaw-dropper. Two large twin-turbo metal fans drop from a 20-foot ceiling, and give a movie-like first impression of an airplane hangar. It is these fans, along with the metal spiral staircase and an open kitchen with stainless appliances, that has clearly dictated the contemporary décor.
The home's quirkiness lies, perhaps, in the juxtaposition of comfy leather furniture, wool rugs and lamps glowing in cozy corners against multi-paned, curtainless windows at ceiling level.
A dedicated office space sports a variety of color paint splotches on the walls, and boxes in the two large rooms of the lower level beg to be sorted out. All of these things excite the couple as they plan various new projects while basking in the light of what has already been accomplished.
"This house is probably not for everybody, but it works for us," said Neil Bourdelaise. "We love to entertain, and friends [and] family love to visit."
Making the dream
Dream element: The barn-like structure Neil and Whitney Bourdelaise call home has been fashioned from tan colored metal siding with a red, sloping roof of standing seam metal. From the back porch, both Winchester Creek and the Chester River provide panoramic water views. Route 50 is also within view. "I can see when traffic is heavy and wait a bit before going out," said Whitney Bourdelaise.
Design inspiration: An open layout on the interior second level, just beyond the screened-in porch, has prompted modern decor. A 20-foot ceiling features walls punctuated with groupings of small windows calling for a minimalistic approach to furnishings, which are decidedly contemporary. A third-floor loft, now enclosed, is accessed by a spiral staircase.
Best idea: The couple chose to close in the loft level for the privacy of a master suite. A bathroom off the loft bedroom is planned. In the meantime, the bedroom on the second-level living space is now used as a guest suite with adjacent bathroom.