Megan McSally and her fiance, Joe Marino, had one very important reason for moving into their 4,800-square foot Colonial-style home on an acre in West Friendship — the two have a combined seven children.
"It was important for all of the children to have their own space, and there are lots of spaces here," said McSally, a 39-year-old Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
The Howard County home is within a 10-mile radius of shopping, dining, all the children's schools and their activities. And it wasn't just a matter of having enough space, but the right space for Marino's children (Joey, 13; Lindsay, 11; and Sammy, 8) and McSally's kids (Maddie, 14; Jack, 13; and 10-year-old twins Abigail and Katelin).
McSally, who owns the $877,000 home, began the renovations before she met Marino, a 46-year-old regional sales manager for ProBuild, a national building and construction material supplier. She wanted an open layout that was flowing and designed to accommodate the needs of a family.
On the ground level, there is a mudroom with designated cubbies for each person, a study room off the kitchen, a separate office, a sitting room and adjacent living room, and an expansive family room. The children sit down to dinner — and homework — at a long trestle table made of reclaimed and lacquered barn wood that seats eight in the kitchen.
Faith Home Remodeling Services Inc. built the new kitchen, which McSally calls her favorite room in the house.
"The copper sink, large range and hearth with hidden spice racks make it a wonderful place to prepare meals," she said. "However, any place that the children gather, whether it be for a quick snack after school [or] an impromptu high school gathering, that is where the true joy is. Our children range in ages from 8 to 14; no matter the age, they all come to the kitchen."
Counters are made of glazed maple while black granite countertops have been textured to look like soapstone. Travertine backsplashes are a warm backdrop for stainless-steel GE Monogram appliances.
Adjacent to the kitchen is the two-story family room, where a massive corner fireplace of stone with an arched hearth makes it a perfect place for family bonding. With a fire roaring, parents and children can watch TV or enjoy the view that backs up to preserved land seen out of the room's Palladian-like windows.
"I have all-new furniture [here] that is traditional and neutral in decor," McSally said.
This includes a brown leather sofa and two matching club chairs arranged in a half-circle. For color and pop, there are two tall potted plants and a wool carpet with white medallions on a blue background.
Bucking the notion of a typical floor plan, McSally decided not to have a dining room, opting instead for a sitting room with an impressive tray ceiling that opens directly into an inviting front room.
"My favorite pieces of furniture are in this front sitting room, [which] was designed to [be] an intimate space for comfortable conversation," McSally said. "The club chairs are a mix of leather and embroidered fabric with beautiful nail-head trim. A hand-painted chest anchors the room and is flanked by art created by my twin girls."
There are no formal places that are off-limits for the children on this well-designed first level.
Still, the children crave a bit of privacy, which the second story offers. Accessed by a staircase in the foyer and another off of the family room, the level features three bedrooms, a master bath, a hall bathroom and a Jack-and-Jill bathroom.
The third floor consists of a large bedroom that sleeps two and a private bathroom. There is also a bedroom and bathroom suite in the finished basement.
McSally has encouraged the children to be creative with their rooms. Hot pink, aquamarine and lime green are the chosen wall colors, and each room is accented with bright accessories and colorful prints.
The couple's master suite is staid by comparison, but classic in its furnishings. A seven-piece suite, including a headboard, dresser and bedside tables, has been handsomely crafted in walnut and inlaid wicker from the Florida-based store Rooms To Go.
Continuity of design — colorful where appropriate, with traditional furnishings for main-level living — is the hallmark of this comfortable and welcoming home.
"As a Realtor and a homeowner, I know how you choose to use spaces in your house [to] make it a home," McSally said. "Often, spaces appear to be dictated for us. I believe in changing that."
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An earlier version of this article had incorrection information about the ownership of the house. Megan McSally did not purchase or renovate the house with her fiance. She owned it prior to their engagement.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.