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Differing styles of couple reflected in 'tree house'


Genie Crawford tells her husband, Quincy, she feels like she's living in a treehouse.

That comes from spending time in her airy, white-tiled kitchen, where large windows fill a wall and frame the upper branches of tall trees out back. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the family room and master-bedroom offer the same woodsy view.

But any comparison to a backyard-variety treehouse stops there. To the Crawfords, the four-bedroom Cape Cod, which backs to trees on four acres in Phoenix, is much more dream house than woodland perch.

At 5,000 square feet, with six bathrooms, three fireplaces, two upstairs mini-suites and a three-car garage, the house has everything the couple searched two years to find.

They haven't been the only ones drawn in by the brick facade with bay windows and dormers tucked into a sloped roof. Since the Crawfords moved in last August, several passers-by have stopped and asked to look inside, including one family now building the same model in Harford County.

"This house is timeless," Mr. Crawford says. "It could have been built in the '30s or the '90s."

The 51-year-old president of Towson-based First Financial Group says the home's formal front rooms reflect his personality. The more informal back rooms, with windows and skylights opening to the woods, are more the style of his wife, a fifth-grade teacher.

In front, the living room, dining room and study have 9-foot ceilings and 6-inch crown moldings, polished hardwood floors and Oriental rugs, full bay windows and French doors. The study, with wood trim and fireplace mantel, opens off a two-story foyer.

The couple has furnished the rear, two-story family room and master bedroom in a color scheme of green and brick-red, designed to draw the outside in. Bringing them even closer to nature are a bricked, screened-in porch, where they relax in the evening, and a deck they use for barbecues.

Though just the two of them live in the house -- and plan to until retirement -- they envision it as a family gathering spot, for one son, a Dickinson College sophomore; a married daughter in Alexandria, Va., a married son in Laurel and someday, they hope, grandchildren.

Upstairs, they have what they believe are perfect accommodations for visiting children and guests, a bedroom with its own bathroom and large closet, another two rooms that share a bathroom and sitting area.

"We call this the grandparents' house," Mr. Crawford says.

In fact, providing such accommodations became one of the primary requirements when the Crawfords decided to move from a smaller home nearby.

Their search took two years. They wanted what at first seemed unattainable, a home in the Phoenix area of Baltimore County with privacy, woods and land -- and neighbors nearby.

They used to drive through Brookfield, a community of custom homes on large lots, always stopping in front of a sprawling Cape Cod. But no homes were for sale.

Just as they were about to give up the search and build a home, their real estate agent told them about a home in Brookfield that had come on the market. It had been built four years ago for a Black & Decker executive, who was transferred and sold the home to another company executive, who also was transferred.

It turned out to be the Cape Cod they'd admired.

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