A 19th-century fixer-upper comes of age


Richard and Susan Rogers plan to live in their Severna Park home for a long time - which explains the thought and care they have invested in renovating their 19th-century farmhouse over the past 15 years.

As the parents of two young children, the Maryland natives purchased the home in 1988, having been drawn to the neighborhood's good schools and to the house itself, which boasts a large yard and private location at the end of a gravel road.

The home was livable, but needed upgrades to its major systems, including the electric and plumbing, as well as some serious maintenance.

When their toddler daughter stood in the back yard, "The weeds were so high I could hardly find her," Susan Rogers recalls. A rock served as a front stoop, the windows didn't work, and one of the interior walls was covered with shingles.

Other oddities, they recall, included the bathroom lighting.

"When we moved in there was no light switch in the bathroom," Richard Roger says. "You had to go in and open the medicine cabinet and turn on the light" inside it to see anything.

Undeterred by the work that lay ahead, the Rogers family moved in, and the renovations began in earnest.

After paying $100,000 for the two-story house, they have since spent an additional $125,000 on renovations, doing most of the labor themselves with the help of family and friends.

Richard Rogers, who owns a landscaping company, is the handyman, while Susan Rogers, a nurse, loves antiquing and sewing and has a natural flair for interior design.

The home's small foyer opens directly into the living room, which is one of the home's original four rooms. Decorated in a neutral palette and a mix of old and new furnishings, the room boasts new 6-inch-wide cherry wood-plank floors, which extend throughout most of the lower level.

The kitchen, which was remodeled this year, is the home's centerpiece with semi-custom glass-front cherry cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and a large center island.

"Everybody gathers around the kitchen when we have get-togethers," Susan Rogers says. "I wanted an island with nothing in it - no sinks, no stoves, just room to work."

Susan Rogers particularly delights in the kitchen's details, like the low-maintenance Silestone countertops and the fact that she finally has a dishwasher - a modern convenience she's never owned.

A formal dining room lies off to the right of the kitchen. Previously used as a bedroom, the area retains its original tin ceiling. An oversized window seat beckons from the far side.

Also on the first floor is a powder room, at the back of the house, and a master suite, off the living room. The suite and a 4-foot-wide staircase and a large second-floor landing were added to the home in 1999, markedly increasing the home's living space.

Architect Ken Smiley headed up the renovations, which also included adding a front porch, converting a former downstairs bedroom to a dining room, reconfiguring the upstairs bedrooms and adding an upstairs bath.

"We were able to make it much more comfortable, hopefully, and much more functional than when we started," Smiley says.

While the kitchen is Susan Rogers' favorite part of the house, the back yard is Richard Rogers' domain.

"We came from a house that had a real small yard and I wanted something bigger - although the yard was in hideous shape when we bought it," Richard Rogers says.

He has constructed a large, tiered wood deck, a stone wall from the limestone in the unfinished basement and planted an array of flowers. The couple's son and a nephew pitched in and built the pond in the summer of 2002.

The major renovations - inside and out - are finished. But Susan Rogers acknowledges that "there's always a project to work on."

For now though, she can enjoy adding finishing touches, like the draperies she sews and the McCoy pottery she collects. And Richard Rogers can enjoy gardening and relaxing out by the fishpond, a pastime his family likes to tease him about.

Adding the first-floor master suite, the couple says, will enable them to remain in the home they love through their retirement years. After all of the work they've put into the home, Richard Rogers says, "I'm planning on enjoying it."

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