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Preserving purity of '22 Colonial


Charlene Knode stands at the far end of an oak Mission-style table in the dining room of her 1922 Catonsville Colonial home.

Sunlight bends through the panes of a multihued window high above an oak china cabinet. She has painted each glass panel of this window in a variety of bold primary colors, producing a wavy, bubble-like effect.

"I did not want a house that was redone," she states emphatically. "I wanted unimproved, uncorrupted."

She and husband Emory Knode are both 45, and the owners of Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe in the village of Catonsville. The couple and their two children, Emily Rose, 9 and Christopher, 7, are only the third family to inhabit this three-story, center hall Colonial.

They paid $250,000 in 1997 for the home, which they considered untouched and "in pretty good condition." The Knodes said they invested an additional $15,000 into doing "strictly cosmetics." This included some painting, plastering, wallpapering, repaving the driveway and brick for a 1,100-square-foot patio.

Foremost in their minds was to have a home as near to the original design and construction as possible, even if it meant tearing away at prior updates and past improvements. To save on costs, the couple did all of the work themselves.

The house is on a wooded lot off Hilton Avenue. Its facade faces east. Its shingle siding is painted in Williamsburg blue, the shutters are in red brick and the trim is painted in butterscotch.

The front door opens to a center hall that is 9 feet wide by 28 feet deep and runs the length of the house. The dining room and kitchen open to the south side, while a 24-foot-wide by 28-foot-long living room occupies the north side. The first floor has 10-foot-high ceilings that give the room the appearance of a larger area. A solid oak staircase, dressed in floral carpeting, serves as the center hall's centerpiece.

Charlene Knode points out her husband's handiwork: a plaster ceiling medallion he erected to showcase a stained-glass lighting fixture and crown molding constructed over light celery green walls.

The Mission-style furniture, linked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright designs, offers clean, rectangular lines, a sturdy oak construction and comfortable fabric.

"We really live in our [living room]," says Charlene Knode. "There's no family room, no club room. This is it."

Built-in bookcases along the living room's rear wall rest atop lower cupboards, hand-finished by Emory Knode, and painted white. One of his favorite finished projects is the mantel on the north wall that sits above a red brick fireplace.

Emory Knode built the mantle and took crown molding to the ceiling. He then faux-painted the wood for a light beige, leathery look. On the opposite wall, a club sofa and love seat, both covered in sage chenille, and floor lamps with stained-glass shades, complete the look. Two sets of French doors flanking the fireplace open to a side porch, a favorite summer room for the family.

Across the hall is what Charlene Knode describes as the family's I Love Lucy kitchen because of its 1950s period pieces - a different style than the rest of the 82-year-old house but something the family wanted.

Prominently placed at the kitchen's entrance is a chrome- framed, gray Formica table, with chairs upholstered in matching orange and gray. The original sink rests within a green Formica countertop with chrome edging.

The room also has caramel painted chair-rail molding and striped green wallpaper.

While some modern appliances like a dishwasher are present, the Knodes are hoping soon to buy a vintage-style refrigerator. They hope the piece will complement the room's black-and-white vinyl tile flooring.

The green walls of the hall carry over to the second and third floors of the home. Emily Rose Knode's bedroom is a vision in pink and lace with a canopied bed. A door opens to a balcony overlooking the back yard. Christopher Knode's bedroom is a shrine to his love of trains and includes train and railroad-track wallpaper bordering.

In the master bedroom, Charlene Knode chose a rust colored, floral quilt to contrast with the beige walls and white molding. The Mission style is present in the dresser and bureau. Accents include wrought-iron wall hangings and framed, fantasy-like prints of knights and damsels. The room's bathroom is original to the house, though the Knodes added a period pedestal sink and new shower tile.

The home's third floor contains a workroom for Charlene Knode and her many craft projects - several pieces of her silk flower-petal art are framed and displayed throughout the home. On the opposite side of the hall is a guest room decorated in pastel chintz and her grandmother's mahogany furniture. An attic room contains marked bins of seasonal decorations.

Friend Karen Connolly admires the couple's energy as well as their purist attitudes toward the home's revitalization.

"Charlene is just oozing with pride over the way they've brought [the house] back to life," she says. "It is totally unpretentious and warm. I feel very comfortable, like I can sit right down and have a glass of wine."

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