The story is a familiar one for many Maryland homeowners living along eastern Baltimore County's shoreline: The appeal, initially, is in having a summer vacation cottage. That is, until the inhabitants realize that with a bit of remodeling and updating, they can live in their dream home on the water all year long.
This was the case for Bill and Jo Ann Loeliger and their three children, Erin, Kelsey and Burk. Their contemporary three-story home sits high on a bank off the south shore of the Middle River near Turkey Point — a setting quite different from that of their previous home in northern Baltimore County.
"When Bill said we were going to move, [the kids] got all upset," said Jo Ann Loeliger of the family's purchase of the new house in 2000. "But then I told them their backyard would be much different; they don't have to mow anything — it's beautiful water!"
And the water is a fitting backdrop for the 5,000-square-foot home on multiple levels with four bedrooms plus an in-laws' suite on the lower level.
"Working on it has been an ongoing process," said Bill Loeliger, a 57-year-old anesthesiologist. "Like any house you move into, [there are] always things you'd like to change, and we've had 14 years to do it."
And while there are still projects in the offing, the couple is pleased with recent renovations, including building a new garage on the front elevation that connects to the three-story south wing of the home. The space above the garage serves as a media room. Off the garage, steps lead indoors to a new laundry room, powder room and mudroom. A long breezeway connecting the main part of the home to the south wing was widened, and a series of new windows provide a view of the water, the deck that runs the entire width of the house and a built-in pool between the two wings.
In the south wing, a large great room features a handsome, carved oak refractory table — one of the many antiques collected by Jo Ann, who feels that "mixing new with antique pieces adds a wonderful flavor of warmth and history to [the] living space."
One of her favorite antiques is a Victorian dresser, the first piece she ever purchased, when she was 24. It sits in the guest room where her now-adult daughters sleep when they come to visit. Another favorite takes a commanding spot in the dining room.
"It is an old English huntboard, which had a center rack underneath it. This is where the hunters would place their bird catch for the day while they gathered for a drink," said Jo Ann, a 61-year-old nurse anesthetist. "I also very much enjoy accents that my father made for me, such as … my grandfather's clock in the foyer and my desk in the 'bayroom.' "
The bayroom, as they have named it, is the couple's favorite spot in the house. Just off the library, with multiple large windows facing east onto the water, this room offers one of the nicest views in the house — looking out at the river toward the Chesapeake Bay and across to the Eastern Shore. From this room, over the pool, the couple rode out Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003.
A large oak table and chairs sit in a corner of the room, near perpendicular windows. A standing telescope and a weathered leather furniture suite are in front of a fireplace.
"I love [this room] because of the views and the fireplace," Jo Ann said. "The bay has many faces during four seasons. Sitting in this room feels as though you are on top of the water. You get a real feel of the bay's personality. Some days it is calm and soothing, and other days it is more expressive and volatile."
A staircase rises to the third level and its open hall, master bedroom and loft. Sliders off the loft open onto a deck and a spectacular view of the lower two-tiered deck, pool, gardens, rock bulkhead and 60-foot pier where the family's powerboat is moored. This deck is another favorite retreat of Jo Ann's. In addition to the view during the day, the quiet nights are filled with "listening only to the water or the hoot of the great horned owl."
"We have observed eagles and red-tailed hawks nesting in nearby trees, and watched as they fish in the bay with such precision," she added.
For the Loeligers and their 20-year-old son, Burk, who commutes to University of Maryland, Baltimore County, their home is about offering respite — not only to themselves but to family and friends who frequently gather to celebrate the views and natural surroundings.
"Many can understand the appeal of living on the water in the summer, but each season has its own unique qualities that we love," Bill said. "Even when the river is frozen over in the winter, it has a beauty that is magical."
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