From a back road near Havre de Grace in Harford County, an enclave of five residences and a few outbuildings sits off to itself in an open field.

This is the Hicks family compound, where 37-year-old Billy Hicks lives, surrounded by the homes of his parents, his sister and her family, his cousin and her daughter, and his uncle.


Hicks' house is an unimposing framed Colonial with a center bay gable built of stone at the end of the long, tree-lined family driveway. Small and compact, it was originally a garage, renovated over the years for several members of the Hicks family at various stages of their lives.

In the summer of 2010, Hicks' uncle, machinist Bill Ellis, gutted the entire two-story structure and rebuilt it to his nephew's specifications. What resulted was a contemporary bachelor pad Hicks is proud to call home. He took possession of his new digs last May.

The total renovation cost approximately $200,000, and because he wanted a completely fresh and modern look, he spent an additional $12,000 on furniture and accessories. Employing Adrianne Kotula, lead interior designer at WPS Paint & Decorating Center, the two decided on a masculine, modern decor.

"Billy was a fun client for me to work with because I had a design aesthetic that I was going for since day one, and he was totally on board," Kotula said. "I came up with a design and color scheme that he liked, and we had fun along the way, adding great accent pieces."

Within 2,600 square feet on two levels to work with, she mixed cool gray colors with more neutral shades of taupe and tan while adding pops of color such as navy and chartreuse. Interior finishes include stark granite countertops and flooring of cement gray tiles and dark hickory.

In an interesting architectural twist, the typical layout of the first and second levels are switched. Two bedrooms, each with a full bath, are located just off of the first-floor center foyer.

A central staircase of hickory with metal cables ascends to an open living area approximately 40 feet deep and 60 feet wide. A 20-foot vaulted ceiling adds to the spacious look. The kitchen, living room, powder room and a bump-out sunroom are on this second level, which is larger and brighter than the bedrooms below.

"My favorite room is the kitchen," said Hicks, proprietor of the Outback Steakhouse in Bel Air. "It is open [with] hand-made cabinets made of cherry wood, by a company called Custom Cabinetry [Unlimited] in Leola, Pa."

Also made by Custom Cabinetry is the five-piece tiger maple dining set designed for the kitchen corner and placed perpendicularly to large windows, from which natural light spills on to Jenn-Air appliances. Silestone covers the counters as well as the free-standing cherry wood cabinets and breakfast bar. The backsplashes are made of narrow glass tiles in shades of gray, tan and dark brown. A window seat in the kitchen is used for storage.

What stands out on the upper level is the total absence of clutter. Hicks, a self-professed neatnik, makes sure there's a clean flow from one area to the next.

The great room area across from the kitchen is defined by wood floors, as opposed to tile, and includes an off-white leather sofa and love seat separated by a beige shag rug. A matching leather easy chair and hassock complete the suite. An accent wall here has been painted dark blue, a contrast to the gray and taupe walls, white ceiling and beige furnishings and window treatments.

"The fabrics [throughout the house] are modern geometrics of all shapes and sizes," Kotula said. "The fabric used in the kitchen treatment is a smaller scale of the geometric wallpaper I used in the powder room on the same floor. The circle fabric I used in the great room brings together the colors of the cream leather sofa and the taupe wall color in the sunroom."

The sunroom bump-out is adjacent to the kitchen, with multipaned windows on three sides providing ample light for Hicks' potted plants.

A bar in one corner of the room and a bar-height table and chairs make for easy entertaining, especially with a 65-inch Samsung flat-screen TV mounted on the wall.


In addition to the two bedrooms on the lower level, there is an office space and a laundry room leading to a 30-by-40-foot outdoor patio. Future projects include finishing the fireplace there, buying outdoor furniture and adding landscaping.

Kotula is as pleased as Hicks with the finished project that the two worked on so diligently.

"Some clients I shop for and some I shop with," she said. "Billy was a good customer that I shopped with. I picked out the initial finishes, such as tile, hardwood and wallpaper. Then Billy and I had fun shopping all over Hartford County for decorative accessories, artwork and fabric."

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