Dream home: Rooms with a view

It wasn't that Bob Donohue was unhappy in his Ellicott City home, but he had one small issue that prompted a move to Pasadena in Anne Arundel County.

"I had to have a house for my boat, [and] I targeted this area," Donohue, a real estate broker and owner of Great American Properties, said of his new neighborhood, Pinehurst on the Bay-Bodkin.

The long paved lane on which he lives can only be described as a street of houses upon houses in a variety of architectural styles with very little space between them. But it's not about the land down on Bodkin Creek — it's about the water that is hardly seen from the cramped street where the fronts of the houses are actually the backs of the houses. And the lots on which they sit are no more than 50 feet wide.

In December 2006, Donohue found the waterfront property and house, for which he paid $400,000. Green asbestos shingling pretty much cloaked a burnt-out house with no floor, no roof and no hope of revival.

He and his wife Leslie, a nurse at Union Memorial Hand Clinic in Baltimore, worked with an architect/draftsman while Cedar Square Homes, a local construction company, built their two-story transitional-style house. The final building cost totaled almost $400,000.

"The way I look at it, I got a million-dollar view and the house for free," said Donohue.

The couple moved down to the shore and to their new life on the water in June 2008.

Back on the street side, the home, which has been constructed of durable hearty plank in sea foam green with three gables, also features a covered porch with white railings and a bright red exterior door.

Just behind the ruby-red door and beyond the entrance hall, a stunning vista is revealed by a wall of tempered glass windows. The very wide Bodkin Creek, which lies along the Donohue house, channels out to the Chesapeake Bay. Great houses appear toy-like in the distance.

"It's a playground out there," says Donohue, 50, with sweeping gestures toward the glass front of the house and beyond to the end of a 180-foot pier where his twin-engine, 31-foot power boat is docked. "[The boat] gets me anywhere I want on the bay. We go to dinner by boat, [and] I can get to Fort McHenry in 25 minutes."

The open layout of the home's first level allows for water to be seen from almost every window.

"We're all about casual here; we're in another world — traditional but casual," he said.

Natural oak flooring has been laid over the foundation of the original house. Living space comes in at 2,700 square feet, with an interior measuring 30 feet wide by 51 feet deep.

A dining room area with a cherry wood suite of furniture and a kitchen with stainless appliances, glazed maple cabinets and a granite-topped, cherry wood island are situated on one side of the first level. A living area on the opposite side features comfortable furniture arranged around a stone fireplace with a wide-screen TV built into the wall above the mantel.

Extra attention to detail is found in the rounded edges of the walls, three-piece ceiling molding and a large, Palladian-style window at the staircase landing to the second level.

It could be argued that the Donohue's 20-foot-by-14-foot master suite, with lighted tray ceiling, has one of the most fabulous views along the waterfront. A covered balcony looks down on a beautifully manicured "front" lawn with two tall oaks standing like guards, and out to the mouth of the Bay and beyond.

It is a brisk walk along the Donohue pier, passing kayaks and crab pots, onward to the oyster traps that filter the water and finally, to the large cruiser.

A constant breeze blows across the water; blue heron prefer to fly across it to the lapping waves against the bulkhead. Bob Donohue's eyes focus steadily outward.

"I always knew this is the land of pleasant living — I just never knew what that meant until I moved down here," he said.

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Making the dream

Dream element: The property has a 180-foot pier and a stunning view of Bodkin Creek and the channel out to the Chesapeake Bay. "From the end of the pier, I can look one way to see the Key Bridge and the other way to see the [ Chesapeake] Bay Bridge," Bob Donohue said

Dream design: The home is custom-designed in a transitional style with touches of craftsman features. The couple chose traditional but casually styled furniture, scaled to the home's dimensions.

Dream move: Because of Leslie Donohue's long commute to Union Memorial hospital, the couple decided to keep a rancher in Catonsville for late nights and family gatherings in town.