Bringing the outdoors inside; Teamwork: An interior designer and former builder create their house with post-and-beam construction, an abundance of windows and hunting trophies.


If you have ever wondered what kind of place builders create for themselves -- or whether an interior designer's rooms have the harmony of color and textures found in slick magazines -- walk through Richard and Mary Getsinger's Eastern Shore home.

The former senior vice president of a construction company and the interior designer/artist have created a home that is unpredictable, yet elegant; spacious, yet cozy; new, but with an old-home feel.

When they designed and decorated their Talbot County home, their goal was to bring as much of the outdoors in as possible. Richard and his sons are avid hunters. From the antler chandelier in the foyer to the stuffed fox, deer, and quail throughout the home, their passion for hunting shines through.

The Getsingers' 75 acres of waterfront property, which includes a guest cottage and dog kennel, has been captured in many of Mary's paintings. The home is also a gallery for her work. The upstairs hallway, which overlooks the spacious living room, features many of her paintings.

Windows cost $40,000

Consistent with their outdoors theme, they invested more than $40,000 of the $450,000 budgeted for the home on windows. "The windows are when the budget started to blow away," Richard joked.

Almost every room in the four-bedroom, 4 1/2-bathroom home has a water view -- either the Bolingbroke Creek, which runs into the Choptank River, or a pond the Getsingers built so their five children and five grandchildren could enjoy swimming and fishing.

Windows span one wall in the living room, from the wooden floors to the 30-foot ceiling, and offer a breathtaking view of the marshlands, water and woods outside the home.

No need for draperies, Mary decided. Let stained glass panels incorporated in the windows be the only filter for sun and moonlight.

A stone fireplace, leather furniture, a grand piano, a high Victorian cabinet, and a table surrounded by 17th-century chairs adorn the room and offer cozy spots in which to linger.

What sets the Getsingers' home apart from other elegant homes on the Shore is a combination of post-and-beam and conventional framing.

"We're wood people, post-and-beam folks," Mary said. "Every time we had the opportunity, we chose to expose wood."

Douglas fir

Wood -- beams of rich, hearty Douglass fir, straight-grain timber shipped from a company in New England -- frames the Getsingers' home, clinching that outdoors/inside feel.

After looking at four or five post-and-beam homes, gathering references from other homeowners, and sifting through materials from countless timber frame companies, the Getsingers selected Davis Frame Co. of New Hampshire to craft their home's frame and hammer-beam trusses.

Included in the $100,000 package sent by the company was a weather-tight shell made of insulation and stress skin panels, and services of an installation crew. It took approximately two weeks for two crews to erect the frame and apply the panels.

"Lots of people hear post-and-beam, or timber frame, and think these homes are log cabins," said Jeff Davis, master craftsman for Davis Frame. "The Getsingers' home is a great example of how flexible, stylistically, the post-and-beam construction can be. The exteriors of these homes can be rustic or, more often, they are the contemporary home on any street in the USA."

Handmade bricks

The exterior of the Getsingers' home is covered in oversized, handmade bricks supplied by Cushwa in Williamsport, Pa. A variety of roof pitches and extensions to the left and right makes it look like an old Colonial Tidewater; a family homestead, perhaps, that grew as the family grew.

Few could predict that beyond the front doors are an exposed network of posts, beams, trusses and soaring ceilings. It took the confidence of a builder and the eye of an artist and interior decorator to push contractors to open every wall, ceiling and corner possible for maximum exposure of the wood beams.

As a result, there are niches, nooks and open spaces above rooms and closets that would drive most people crazy; however, the Getsingers perched gargoyles above doors and rafters, or placed Mary's paintings in odd niches. The result: an unpredictable elegance throughout the entire home.

"It is not a house you forget," said Agnes Lemaire, a St. Michaels resident who specializes in custom wall covering and installation. Lemaire helped the Getsingers by applying an antique finish to wood paneling in the first-floor study and wallpapering the master bathroom on the second floor.

"The different angles -- and the way they used the timber -- create the feel of a home that has been around for years," Lemaire said.

Pub Date: 1/31/99

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