A heart, carved from stone, is set in the chimney. A floral arrangement in the shape of a heart brightens the porch. In the living room, a sign encourages, "Love One Another."
Welcome to "Heartwood."
Built on 3 wooded acres in Millersville, this house represents a second chance for Marvin and Lillian Ingram. Each widowed after more than 30 years of marriage, they wanted a home that would provide a fresh start after their 1990 nuptials.
After months of discussion, the couple literally drove past the answer on a trip to West Virginia. Why not a log house?
In addition to the rustic appeal, the couple was impressed by how much they were able to modify the original house plans.
"We knew what we wanted," says Mrs. Ingram, a nurse at Harbor Hospital Center in South Baltimore. "When looking at plans we took ideas from three or four different houses."
Choosing "turned logs" for exterior walls, the Ingrams were able to avoid the dark, more primitive look of conventional log cabins. Stripped of their bark and sized to match, the logs have been coated with a light-colored preservative.
Natural colors are found throughout the house on the interior walls and in the herringbone design of the hardwood flooring.
"The flooring is made from a No. 2 grade of wood," says Mr. Ingram, a retired mechanic with Safeway food stores. "Knots and changes in the color give it a more interesting look."
Darker walnut accents the edges of the flooring, drawing particular attention to the stone fireplace in the center of the great room.
On cold nights, a dual opening allows viewing the fire from the living room, dining room or kitchen. Gray granite counter tops complement black appliances in the kitchen. A cooking island, flanked by a wooden counter, seats four for casual dining. "There is no wasted space in this kitchen," Mrs. Ingram says. Drawers, shelves and niches store everything from cutting boards to soap pads.
"We really don't have an exact figure for the house," Mrs. Ingram admits. "The kit for the [basic] house was $27,000 and the building costs were almost $70,000. By the time we added the walls, appliances, bathrooms, decking and finished the basement it was probably close to $300,000."
Extras included additional doors to the back deck, a garden window in the kitchen and eight skylights.
Eliminating one bedroom from the main level permitted enlargement of the master bedroom suite. In the adjoining bath, a glass block window provides privacy for bathers soaking in the whirlpool tub.
A second bedroom displays collectibles from Mrs. Ingram's family. Dolls, an antique doll pram and an heirloom christening dress share space with a white day bed.
Mr. Ingram took charge of the unfinished basement. The result is "Marvin's Play Pen," complete with television area, kitchenette, guest room, bath and pool table.
"We each had our own homes when we got married, but we
wanted to live where there weren't so many memories," Mrs. Ingram says. "Heartwood is where we started our new life together."