Modern love

The Reisterstown community of Sagamore Forest lives up to its name in a hearty fashion, with woods that are thick and dense.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the drive leading to Scott and Beth Schwartzberg's home, where visitors are engulfed in century-old oak and maple trees, only to find at the end a one-story home that — because of the ragged placement of stones covering its facade — looks more like a fortress than anything else.


The Schwartzbergs, both 28 and both attorneys, relocated from a Park Heights condo into the custom-built $405,000 contemporary design home in February as newlyweds.

"Our home is extremely unique; everything in this house is at an angle," said Beth Schwartzberg. "My parents said, 'We can see you living here.'"


She also notes that while the front of the house is fortress-like, "the back is all open and private, [and] we can enjoy the outdoors."

Floor-to-ceiling sliders cover the entire back of the home, offering stunning views. A large wooden deck, constructed around two mighty trees serves as an interesting foreground for a backdrop of autumnal color.

While the interior is quite angular — and in places asymmetrical, as seen in some of the walls and built-in shelving units — there is a softness created by round columns and the curvature of some of the walls. Mirrors, placed floor to ceiling, enhance the open layout while bouncing light around the rooms. The juxtaposition of hard and soft, along with a mixed use of wood on countertops, ceramic on floors and walls and marble in bathrooms, is a wonder of contemporary design.

"It is the most oddly designed layout," Beth Schwartzberg said. "That is why I picked it. It's interesting and thought-provoking."

The assessment pleases Jay Brown of Levin/Brown & Associates, the architect of this design, a project completed over 30 years ago.

"We were ahead of our time back in the '80s [and] were always ones to push the envelope," he said. "It's a treat for us to design a contemporary."

Modern design does not preclude warmth and personality, however. In a very short time the Schwartzbergs have made the home their own.

The living room, for example, is quite traditional in warmth. Sunken one step down from the entrance foyer, it is completely carpeted in soft beige. A light-brown traditional microfiber sofa and love seat share the room with a white upholstered easy chair filled with white pillows. A white carved pedestal sits next to a marble fireplace. A bust, sculpted by Beth Schwartzberg, rests atop the column, while her 4-by-6-foot painting hangs above the fireplace.


She has titled the expressionistic portrait of woman gazing into a hand-held mirror, "Opcionés," which she painted in large, block lettering at the top of the canvas. All she will say of the piece is that the word means "options."

A five-shelf, open glass unit is filled with family portraits, as are most of the shelf and dresser units throughout the house. Other personal memorabilia are found in the family room and in the second- story loft that is accessed by an open staircase and serves as the master suite, with full bath.

Beth Schwartzberg said she welcomed the opportunity to share the property's unique design with others, especially as the couple nears the one-year mark in the home.

"It captures a point in time, our first year living here," she said.

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Making the dream


Dream design:

The Schwartzbergs' 1979 contemporary was custom-built by the architectural firm of Levin/Brown & Associates. It sits on 1.67 acres of wooded property in Reisterstown.

Dream element:

From the road and driveway, this contemporary home is pretty much a one-story rancher. The facade is constructed of stone and laid in a method called drystack, according to architectural designer Jay Brown. The drystack gives the stone an irregular and highly dimensional appearance.

Dream inspiration:

The open layout of the interior, along with glass sliders traversing the entire back wall and mirrors along inside walls, provides a wealth of natural lighting by day. "We have lots of recessed lighting and very few lamps," Beth Schwartzberg pointed out. "We have paneling on the ceiling in the kitchen and dining room that collects sunlight and allows us to keep the lights off for the majority of the day."