The house was all wrong. Katy Gordin had made it perfectly clear to her real estate agent she wanted an all-brick house, an old house, a home surrounded by scads of scenic land.
Nothing about the white Cape Cod in Carroll County sounded right. But the Gordins agreed to look anyway, desperate after touring one century-old farmhouse after another, each more decrepit than the next.
When the transplanted Texans pulled off busy Sykesville Road into the driveway, past the big sycamore shading the front yard, notions of boxy Cape Cods -- and the desire for an all-brick home -- quickly evaporated.
This 40-year-old home, with cozy dormer windows, black shutters and Williamsburg green doors, oozed with enough sophistication to suit city slickers.
It had a chandelier in every first-floor room, even in the black-and-white tiled bathroom, a fireplace framed by a dark wood mantel, double doors leading to a series of sitting areas, hardwood floors and rooms painted a fresh white, trimmed in beige. The kitchen features a center butcher-block island.
The house sat on 1 1/4 acres. But the Gordins quickly forgot about the 10 acres they wanted when they saw wide-angle views, from the rear bedroom, dining room and even the laundry room, of hills dotted with scattered homes, crowned by foliage.
"Halfway through, I said, 'This is the house,' " recalled Mrs. Gordin, 44. In May, the couple moved into the house they bought for $192,000.
The Gordins set about turning the home into a calm retreat from the workday world, where Wayne Gordin, 46, sells health and life insurance and Mrs. Gordin works as director of sales for Shoney's Inn.
The Gordins have spread their Houston furniture into separate sitting areas, which they enjoy equally. The two former divorcees met four years ago through a personal ad. They have five grown children, none of whom lives with them.
They've spent evenings in the living room, sipping wine on the love seat in front of the fireplace. Mornings in the sun room, they drink coffee, read the paper and bask in sunlight coming through two walls of windows. They relax in the family room to K. D. Lang, Bonnie Raitt or B. B. King, or they revel in sunsets they watch from their backyard.
"Our relaxation time is very dear to us," Mrs. Gordin said.
Off the living room is the sun room. French doors on the rear wall open into the family room. From there, another set of double doors opens into a sun-filled master bedroom at the back of the house. A rear dining room, brightened by a bay window, sits between the family room and the kitchen.
In the master bedroom, the cathedral ceiling slopes to the rear wall. Light filters through a row of windows cut high on the wall below the ceiling's peak. More windows wrap around a back wall corner, offering a view of hills.
The Gordins spend every Sunday until noon in that room, leisurely reading the paper, sipping coffee. Friends and relatives know better than to stop by or call. Phone calls go unanswered.
"That's our time to relax," Mrs. Gordin says. "No matter how frantic things get, Sunday morning is a time for the two of us."