Jean and Mike Tumbarello stand in the great room of their dream home near Deep Creek Lake.
Jean and Mike Tumbarello stand in the great room of their dream home near Deep Creek Lake. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

Hanging on the wall of Mike and Jean Tumbarello's new retreat at Deep Creek Lake is an old framed greeting card with a primitive drawing of a brown log cabin nestled among trees aglow with autumn colors. The scene is rendered in crayon with a sentiment that reads, in part: "Jean, here's our cottage in the country. I wish I were in it with you right now. …"

"The card was sent before we married — probably 1974, when we were dating in college, when you actually had to use snail mail," Jean Tumbarello recalled.

While her husband's artwork hasn't improved that much over the ensuing years, he was better at his promise of a place in the country. What the couple built together — after 34 years of marriage — is a 4,000-square-foot Arts & Crafts-style bungalow with an interior that could be described as a "mini lodge."

"We got our house as an anchor for our dream life," said Jean Tumbarello, who, together with her husband, will move out of their rented condo in Ellicott City and embark on their new life as full-time residents of Deep Creek Lake.

Vacation homes are nothing new to the couple. At one time they owned a home in North Carolina's Outer Banks, but as Mike Tumbarello explained of the Maryland mountain resort, "This is a community with amenities for all seasons; the lots have natural beauty."

And so, in the winter of 2007 on vacation at Deep Creek, the couple bought their piece of Garrett County land, knowing that sooner, rather than later, they would build.

"I would go on line looking at designs for our dream," said Jean Tumbarello, who is a registered nurse. "We knew we were going to live here full-time."

The couple took their plans and ideas to an architect and contracted with Concept Associates, a local company, as their builder. They broke land last August and the house was finished by the end of March. The process was helped along by a milder-than-usual winter.

By the time of completion, the couple had spent $550,000 on construction and the one-acre plot of land they say has everything they ever wanted in a house.

The open layout with three stories, one being a raised basement that is unfinished, was also designed for one-level living should the time come. But in the meanwhile, the couple enjoys their open lodge-like layout with a pinewood tongue-and-groove cathedral ceiling in the great room — the natural beauty of its 20-foot height rivaled only by the dry-stack stone fireplace and chimney rising to meet it.

A variety of natural woods and organic materials adds beauty, contrast and interest to the interior. Floors on the main level are random-width ash wood, while the open kitchen boasts maple cabinets on which sit a collection of clay pottery and ceramic pitchers. Backsplashes are porcelain and countertops are light granite.

Leather contemporary furniture in the great room, along with a slate-tiled coffee table, is designed for comfort while an open pine staircase to the second level features spindles that have been made from reinforced steel rods.

The couple's dining table is perhaps the most distinctive, with oak-backed chairs sidled up to an 8-foot long by 3½-foot wide pine table that was originally a barn door. Jean Tumbarello's 90-year-old father built the trestle legs it rests on, as well as a lovely pine hutch painted blue-gray in the room's corner.

The home's main level also includes a sun room, a screened-in deck running the width of the home, a guest bathroom and the couple's master suite.

Striking and stylish in its simplicity, the couple's bedroom showcases medium shades of wood, light fabrics and bamboo. The king bed is mission style crafted in cherry wood. A vaulted knotty-pine ceiling mimics that of the great room.

Mike Tumbarello's office is also on this first level. It features a desk-hutch combination piece of darkly painted wood set against eggshell-colored walls and built-in oak cabinets flanking the French doors out to the front hall.

The second level contains two guest bedrooms, one decorated in a "summer camp/ bear in the woods" theme and the other in a beach theme with furnishings from their former retreat at the Outer Banks. The couple's two children, Lisa, 28, who lives in Columbia, and Michael, 24, who lives in Eldersburg, can take advantage of the guest rooms when visiting.

A step down off the hallway reveals a space above the garage that Jean Tumbarello has taken over as a crafts room. It is filled with framed cross-stitch samplers, a crewel embroidered flower piece and a quilt she made in three sections depicting the couple's early years in New York City, the children's growing up years in the Midwest and their lives down in the Outer Banks.

As they count down the days to their full-time move to the cabin in the woods, Mike Tumbarello's plans are meant to keep him active. He heads his own consulting firm, Strategy & Marketing Partners, and also teaches at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. But he will be starting a new position as coordinator for Garrett County's business incubator, the Garrett Information Enterprise Center.

"Yes, I wear many hats, but will be spending most of my time at the GIEC going forward, but still keeping my iron in the teaching and consulting fires too!"

Jean Tumbarello plans to give up nursing and might, perhaps, get involved with the Deep Creek visitors' center. "But not before taking a lot of time off for me," she laughed.

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Making the dream

Dream realized: "This house pulls together all the things we loved about each house we lived in over the past 34 years," said Jean Tumbarello. "It is located in a beautiful place within a great community where we can enjoy nature and where family and friends can comfortably gather.

"We planned, worked hard and waited a long time to make this dream come true.

"We loved the building process, watching the house take shape and making our dream a reality. We feel very blessed to have been able to make our dream come true."

Personal touches: Jean Tumbarello's handiwork is found all over the home, and includes a large painting of a Colonial American flag that she and her father worked on together – their initials burned into the frame's corner. Mike Tumbarello's contribution to the home's decor is a life-size catfish-shaped pillow that rests on the sofa.