There is more than one way to improve upon a well-kept but outdated home after it has been purchased as a resale.

This is a fact that Jeffrey and Kasha Gutowski know well. They became the third owners of their Colonial-style home in Bel Air when they purchased it in July 2009 for $292,000. They decided to renovate one room at a time while taking their time to enjoy life.


"This home [was] well maintained enough to live comfortably and … remodel and make changes as we please," said Kasha Gutowski, a 30-year-old registered nurse at Franklin Square Hospital. The couple have one child, 6-month-old Jeffrey Jr. "Home projects are more of a pleasure instead of a necessity. It's [not like] we are living in the shambles of a complete gut job."

The home's interior layout, while not open, features rooms that flow effortlessly into one another. This is due, in great part, to wide, wood-trimmed openings.

In the back part of the first level in this 1,824-square-foot home, both kitchen and breakfast room adjoin the homey family room. Here baby Jeffrey can be found lying on a colorful blanket spread out over a white plush carpet that covers thin-planked oak flooring.

Cozy and comfortably tranquil, the decor here is what Kasha Gutowski refers to as "transitional, rustic and timeless."

"I love quality pieces, which is why a few of the rooms are empty," she said.

But the family room is not one of them. It is painted a sage green on the upper two-thirds of the walls; white wainscoting covers the bottom third. Dark bamboo shades adorn the windows and are topped with fabric cornices. Across from a wide-screen TV mounted over a mahogany wood credenza is an L-shaped white sectional sofa. Two large cutouts of leaves on a tin background hang on the wall over the suede microfiber sofa. A marble fireplace with a wood surround completes the look of clean lines in a space that is not overly decorated.

A door between the breakfast area and the kitchen leads to a large deck overlooking almost a half-acre of fenced-in yard. The Gutowskis' property line backs to an area of tall trees; houses beyond them can only be seen in the winter. The couple have decorated the patio with tables, chairs, a gas grill and a set of bamboo easy chairs on an outdoor carpet, serving as a conversation nook and a place for reading and sipping wine during lazy summer nights.

Back inside, a dining room and living room are adjacent to each other at the front of the home. The dining room, painted a pumpkin shade above the chair rail, features wood paneling painted white below it. A transitionally designed dining room set includes a table, six chairs and bay windows dressed with Roman shades.

The sparsely furnished living room, painted cocoa and taupe, is a work in progress, but not the way most people would think in terms of decorating.

"We'd like to turn what should be a formal living room into a playroom for our son," Gutowski said. "I envision board-and-batten walls, a reading nook, and a space for arts and crafts or Legos. I'd really like to give our son a place to make a mess and have fun."

The nursery on the second floor is a recently finished project of which Gutowski and her husband, a 33-year-old quality operations manager for the port of Baltimore, are especially proud. Chevron wallpaper in shades of gray and taupe has been hung on the upper half of the walls, while a chair rail in white gives way to taupe-gray shade painted on the lower half. An attractive combination crib and layette table in cherry will serve double duty as a bed and side table when the baby is ready to make the transition to a big boy's mattress.

The couple's favorite project is found on the lower level, where they created their own "pub." A brown corduroy pub-style sectional and matching hassock sit in front of a fireplace, the home's second. Located in the front part of the basement, the area features Kasha Gutowski's favorite furnishings.

"The basement is especially cozy in the winter," she said. "There's something cozy about a quiet evening on the couch in front of a crackling fireplace to keep you warm."

Around the corner from this section of the "pub" is a long shuffleboard table. It is also in this area where the couple has created a bar of stacked gray stone with a wooden bar top and four metal bar stools with high backs and fabric seats.


Gutowski calls the bar area her favorite room in the house, having built the furnishings themselves.

"We spent countless weekends and have a lot of memories of all the work we put into that room, [and] we are thrilled with how it turned out," she said. "When the lights are dimmed and the candles are flickering, it's like we're in our own speakeasy. An evening in the bar feels like we're getting out for the night, but only steps away from our baby. It's also the perfect place to entertain our friends and family."

Another renovation project is remodeling the master bedroom and adjoining bathroom, but with their desire to just one room at a time, there's no particular rush. More than anything else, their priority for the home is sharing their lives and growing together within it.

"We've filled it with a lot of love in the past six years," Kasha Gutowski said.