In this high-tech age of virtual experiences, it is not unheard of to buy a house and professionally decorate it, room by room, from over 8,000 miles away — and then be completely pleased when walking into it for the first time.

Mandy Horne knows that firsthand. From her condo in Hong Kong, she worked side by side (though not literally) with Baltimore interior designer Jeanine Turner to make the Horne family's Towson townhome ready when they moved in June.


"Mandy and Jeanine put everything together via Internet," said Mike Horne, a 42-year-old Australian native who founded and owns Madd Gear, an action sports gear company.

While the company's main office is in Hong Kong, the Hornes decided they would move to Towson, where Madd Gear has had a satellite office for four years.

And so, less than three months ago, Mandy Horne and the couple's three children, 10-year old twins Riley and Mackenzie and 1-year old Zane, walked into their new and completely furnished four-story home for the first time.

Mike Horne had purchased the $510,000 property in the new development of Towson Green when conducting business in his Towson office, but even he could not have imaged the finished product.

"I saw the house empty during the walk-through, but when we arrived in New York from Hong Kong and drove here, we all saw our furnished home for the first time," he said. The biggest adjustment for the Horne family in their brand new Bozzuto-built townhome was having and getting used to space. Their condo in Hong Kong was small by comparison. And because they lived in close quarters, they became used to finding a place for all of their belongings.

"You learn to live with what you need when the living is compact," Mike Horne said. "We came [here] with the mindset of wanting space, but we like being compact and building our lives around our family.

The outstanding element of the Hornes' design style, therefore, is the complete absence of clutter in an open floor plan with dimensions of 20 feet wide by 40 feet deep — a total of 2,334 square feet of living space.

The first level of their brick home features a large room that can be used for many of purposes — a den, an office, or a TV room, perhaps. Mandy Horne decided to make it a dedicated play room for Zane. A large Thomas the Train raised platform with tracks and a village occupies a prized position in the center of the room, allowing for play around all of its sides. The rear of the ground level contains a two-car garage.

Steps to the second level lead to the living area of the home, where an open layout includes the living room, dining area and kitchen. Oyster-colored walls, white molding and white plantation shutters on the windows set the tone for a neutral decor chosen by Turner and Mandy Horne, who considers her design style as casual contemporary.

"Everything is new," said Horne, a 41-year-old Australian native. "Jeanine is great at finding deals. Our challenge was design over function."

A big transformation from Hong Kong to an American lifestyle is apparent throughout, but the kitchen is one area that pleases Horne. Cupboards are white laminate, appliances are stainless and a center island allows for extra counter space, all of which is covered in granite. A rectangular table with a milk glass top sits in a far corner with four dining chairs of denim-like fabric and studs.

From the kitchen table, one can take in the entire second floor. The home's dining room is sectioned off from the living room by four rectangular mirrors hung on the wall next to one another. Not only do they render the effect of doubling the floor space, but they also reflect one of Horne's favorite pieces in the house — her chandelier, fashioned of glass tubes hanging at varying lengths from the ceiling over the glass-topped dining table.

The living room continues the contemporary and minimalist style by the use of an L-shaped white sofa and hassock unit sitting on a white shag rug. Contrast is achieved with dark-stained oak floors and a dark wood coffee table. Like the lower level (and throughout the house) the two living room windows have white plantation shutters.

Zane's nursery, the master suite and a guest room are found on the third level. For the master suite, Tuner and Horne chose tan and cream as the dominant colors. A fabric sleigh bed with off-white linens topped with brown and tan pillows coordinates with the light oak dressers on either side of the bed.


Horne cannot hide her pleasure in accomplishment when showing off the nursery. More of a boy's room than a baby's, Turner found three boldly colored biplanes to hang from the ceiling. Framed whimsical paintings of a pair of dogs and two hung pictures — one of a colorful tricycle and the other of a bright red American Flyer wagon — offer much to look at as Zane drifts off to sleep.

No other room in the house is as colorful and bright as the twin boys' room in the fourth-floor loft. The large area is divided into two spaces by the use of bunk beds and dressers on one end and a sitting area with a large flat-screen TV on the wall. The furniture is all white laminate, with blue and red accents such as the bedspreads and wall clock. Knowing that the boys were big Liverpool soccer fans, Turner managed to find memorabilia from the team — including two autographed photos of players.

More than their much larger, clutter-free home, Mike and Mandy Horne appreciate the sense of neighborhood found in Towson Green. A large grassy area separates the townhomes that form a U-shape around it. Kids play away from the dangers of the streets, while parents gather to chat. There is a Facebook page devoted to the new development ,and the residents have already organized a barbecue.

"There is a great community feel here," Mandy Horne said. "We do a lot of walking to the cafes and stores. It's a bit like the Hong Kong lifestyle."