The Dream Homes feature will periodically visit the homes of some of the Baltimore area's notable citizens. "It's like living in a treehouse," said Rudy Miller, WMAR-TV's morning news anchor, describing her Hill Farm home in Lutherville.
The spacious contemporary house backs to a small forest dense enough that it's hard to see other houses even with most of the leaves gone.
The house is situated on 3 acres on a sloping lot, with a large deck that extends off the kitchen and family room that sits one floor off the ground, with mature trees all around.
"They've done a lot of nice things with this house," said Ms. Miller, referring to the original owners. "I think it fits beautifully with the setting."
Ms. Miller, her husband, Chuck Allen, and their three children moved from Guilford in Baltimore to the Hill Farm subdivision two years ago in search of more acreage and greater privacy.
"We really traded the house for land," said Ms. Miller, adding that the couple loved their traditional Guilford house but had always longed for a large wooded lot.
"I think what I like the best is the sense of privacy, but it's still in a neighborhood," she said.
The location off Falls Road, just north of the Beltway, proved perfect because it's not so far out that they have to travel great distances to get to jobs and to transport three active children to sports, dance class and other activities.
Ms. Miller, who has worked at WMAR-TV since 1991, needs to be at the station by 4:30 each morning.
By 8:30 a.m., she's done with TV news for the day and heads to the Roland Park offices of Maryland Family Inc., which she started with her husband and a partner in 1990.
Mr. Allen works full-time as sales manager for the company, which produces two monthly magazines: Maryland Family and Fifty Plus. The magazines are distributed at about 400 locations.
Ms. Miller recently sold Maryland Family Inc. to The Baltimore Sun Co., but she intends to stay on with the publications.
Although they lost square footage in the move from Baltimore and had to give away "several rooms of furniture and a grand piano," the 4,000-square-foot Lutherville house has plenty of room for family activities and entertaining.
The couple likes the circular flow of the first floor, where guests can drift from the living room -- with its cathedral ceilings, skylights and two-story stone fireplace -- to the dining room, to the combination kitchen and family room and back again.
The lower level is finished with a large recreation room and smaller computer room, where the Allen children hone their skills.
"They love it down there," their mother said.
"They've got their big-screen TV, their pool table and their computer room -- everything they need."
The bedrooms in the house are on two levels.
The master bedroom and bath, which are over the garage, are a half-flight up from the first floor.
The three children's bedrooms are on the second floor, another half-flight up.
The decor is casual and comfortable, with interesting antiques the couple has collected over the years scattered throughout the house.
Ms. Miller also collects old menus from all over the world, many dating back to the 1700s and 1800s. The menus, grouped and framed, make for interesting artwork in the living and dining rooms.
Ms. Miller and Mr. Allen have extensive plans for the house, built 13 years ago.
In addition to painting and redecorating, they have had architectural plans drawn up to increase the family room and lower-level recreation room by about 550 square feet, adding a second staircase as well.
They also hope to build a pool adjacent to the house on one of the only spots in the yard that is not thick with trees.
"This is my dream house in progress," Ms. Miller said.
"I really like the house a lot. But we still have a lot to do."