Natural light floods Heather and Mike Riordan's home so much that there's no need to turn on lights on a sunny day.

Every room offers large windows, from the wall of windows in the living room to the six in the master bedroom. Even better, Heather Riordan said, the open floor plan she sought out takes advantage of all that light, brightening every room.


"That was one of the main reasons we bought this house," she said.

On the Broadneck Peninsula near Annapolis, the home had many of the features on their wish list, including flexible-use spaces and a barely-traveled street to ease worries that their son James, now 4 and soon to be a big brother, could dash into a busy road.

Since buying it in 2014, they've been turning into a cheerful home to suit their family's needs. They updated the 2007 colonial-style home with comfortable, easy-care furnishings and clean lines. It had to be child-friendly with an unfussy, pulled-together look in warm colors.

Not confined by traditional uses of main-floor rooms, they repurposed spaces. The dining room is now a playroom; the sitting room is Mike Riordan's office; an office is now a guest bedroom.

"We knew we wouldn't need a dining room," Riordan said. The eat-in kitchen accommodates their wood dining set that seats at least six — one of the few items other than some bedroom furnishings that they brought from their old home.

Jean Phillips and Tatiana Beckham of Flair Interior Design helped make it happen.

The house, a spacious nearly 3,500 square feet, has wood floors throughout. Many rooms feature recessed lighting.

Toys fill the former dining room, where child-sized storage — white cupboards and cubbies with baskets — simplifies clean-up. A contemporary bowl-style chandelier and geometric-patterned rug in bright colors update the space, which Heather Riordan envisions as a music room as the children get older.

"Every once in a while, I get a 'Mom, my toy is in the light,'" she said.

Across the two-story foyer is Mike Riordan's office. The open access to the former sitting room has been enclosed with glass panels and French doors topped with more glass — which gives him some privacy and a view of James in the playroom while keeping the room bright.

"It's nice to be here," he said, adding that though he works at home, he didn't want to feel isolated.

Self-employed, he does data analysis and is a commercial real estate investor.

The couple made few changes in the kitchen, which already featured stainless steel appliances, lots of storage and medium-toned wood cabinets. They updated the counters, island top and backsplash, adding pizzazz. Easy-care quartz in white with veining in grays and a sparkle unify the counter and island surfaces. Rounded corners and a bullnose edge eliminated sharp corners where James could bumped his head and hard-to-clean edge crevices. The glass-and-stone-tile backsplash picks up the counter's grays.

They reserved the main-floor bedroom for the couple's parents, Heather Riordan said.


"My family is from Pennsylvania and my husband's is from Virginia, and they stay four or five days at a time," she said. "I wanted to make sure it was comfortable for them when they visit us or if they come to live with us."

With green as Heather Riordan's favorite color and orange a close second, the designers kept walls downstairs in creams and yellows, except in the living room — what others might call a family room — where the walls are a muted celery. The room opens to the kitchen, forming a natural gathering spot for getting together with other families.

Furniture colors come from the Oriental rug. A sectional sofa with a chaise, in greens with yellow in the weave, is backed by drapes in ivory with tan sunbursts and faces a large-screen TV, whose accessories are in a low credenza below. A circular glass-topped coffee table keeps the rug's pattern visible and a herringbone-pattern chair adds yellowish shades.

All the upholstery is stain-resistant — a furniture-saver.

"I spilled an entire glass of red wine on this modular piece" of sofa, and a cup of cocoa was dumped elsewhere, Heather Riordan said. "You can't tell."

Upstairs offers four bedrooms. The master suite's walls are soothing lavender shades, punctuated by the dark woods that carry throughout the home, ivory bedding with a gray pattern and a gray chaise. A hint of sparkle comes from metallic flecks in glass bedside lamps. Light pours in through plantation shutters.

"This is my space. It's my office," said Heather Riordan, an associate professor of mathematics at Anne Arundel Community College, of a retreat off the bedroom.

A circular rug grounds the space, and its colors are the basis for the gray-washed desk and a reddish chair.

The laundry closet is steps away. "I love this feature, I'm encouraged to do the laundry rather than have go up and down the steps," Heather Riordan said.

The suite includes two large closets, one a walk-in, and the largest of the home's four full bathrooms. It's white, except for lavender walls.

James' room features a diamond-pattern rug and drapes with dots in matching colors that can grow with him; they already have. He outgrew his baby theme and is into dinosaurs now; new accessories include dinosaur art and lamp. Two guest bedrooms and shared bathroom complete the upstairs.

Mike Riordan wanted an unfinished basement he could customize to his needs, with electronics and televisions, he said. It works for his data needs, and as a man cave and entertainment space.

"During the NCAA tournament, I had six or seven friends come over to watch the games," he said.

Wiring is hidden in a tray ceiling that also has rope lighting and holds speakers, as suggested by the contractor, Basement Builders, and the couple likes the more sophisticated look.

An adjacent space with a bar sometimes doubles as a playroom when adults are watching games. The basement also includes a full bathroom and the home's sixth bedroom.

The work on the home was worth it, the Riordans said.

"When I come down the stairs in the morning, I'm…," Heather Riordan sighed, "I'm so happy."


DREAM REALIZED. Heather Riordan wasn't as keen as her husband was on moving, and their checklist of wants was long. She was surprised when Mike said he found a house that had it all, even the level backyard they wanted for James. "When I walked into this house, everything was here. We didn't change the structure," she said, and that allowed them to focus on the details of creating a home that's "warm and inviting."

DREAM DESIGN. Both Heather and Mike created the spaces they wanted: Heather has the retreat and office, where she is about to create a family photo gallery on the back wall. Mike got his main-floor office with enough room for an elliptical machine and weight area — and his other work needs are fulfilled in the electronics in the basement, where the man-cave aspects, like the beverage cooler and icemaker, are a great convenience even when he's working. A kid-friendly plus: The designers helped find inexpensive decorative accents that aren't easily broken and kept in mind whether other items would be within a child's reach.

DREAM LOCATION. "I'm an 8-minute drive to the college, my day care is in between, and James' school is on the way," Heather Riordan said. Shopping and the couple's favorite restaurants are nearby.