Lots of land, a stream and room to grow

For the Chiodi family, the good life is all about land - tall trees, acreage, even a stream filled with trout in their back yard.

They realized this dream a year ago on purchasing a two-story colonial in northern Baltimore County. In an area off Cuba Road near Oregon Ridge Park, where a smattering of new homes have been built among older houses and farms, their $500,000 investment offers unlimited possibilities for expansion.


Lisa Chiodi, a 36-year-old mother and homemaker, recalls finding the 3-year-old house on the Internet. The family had been living in an Owings Mills townhouse for 10 years.

"My husband always liked the Sparks area," she says. "We both fell in love with the location."


Their 3,300-square-foot home sits on 5 acres. Most of the land has been cleared, save for a line of trees by the stream on the northern end of the property.

The front of the yellow, vinyl-sided home faces south. Past double wooden front doors, a spacious central hall is open to the second level. A pine staircase dominates the area, with the upstairs landing visible behind matching pine railing.

"We went from contemporary to traditional country," Chiodi says, commenting on her home furnishings.

A library table made of India oak rests at the wall east of the staircase. Above it, a mirror framed in sculpted wrought iron reflects the light from a large Palladian window over the front doors.

"Lisa and I love to decorate," says longtime friend Paula Greenberg. "I love the way she incorporates [a variety of] textures into her home."

The family's Yorkshire terrier scampers at Chiodi's feet, following her to the kitchen in the rear of the home where her husband, Tom Chiodi, a 39-year-old commercial contractor, joins her.

The couple estimates an additional $10,000 was spent on molding and paint, and carpeting for the upstairs. The downstairs walls are covered in a desert-sand shade, and wood floors throughout the first level remain uncovered.

"[This is] a cookie-cutter house, really," says Tom Chiodi, about the home's layout. "There was minimal thought put into [its design]."


Still, the Chiodis set out to make it workable for their lifestyle.

Flanking the 4-by-4-foot pine table in the kitchen are four pine chairs from Mexico. A tin light fixture - with artistic etching - hangs above, with pieces of colored glass fitted into the shade for a jewel-like effect. Corian-topped counters and white appliances provide a pristine contrast to this country look.

Double doors from the kitchen lead outdoors to a 14-by-12-foot deck, which features a retractable awning with beige and yellow stripes. Beyond are an in-ground, 30-by-12-foot pool and a fenced-in patio area about 20 yards from the back of the house.

"When the kids have their friends over, we call this place 'Camp Chiodi,'" Lisa Chiodi says.

Inside, the family room's cozy warmth is enhanced by squares of Italian porcelain flooring in shades of terra cotta and chocolate brown. An L-shaped, custom-made sofa of tan microfiber sits beneath windows dressed in white plantation blinds. A large pine cabinet, about 15 feet wide, consumes the opposite wall and houses a wide-screen television. At the eastern end of the room, a fireplace made from faux stack stone rises to the 14-foot cathedral ceiling. While its raised hearth serves as a pedestal for colorful whimsical sculpture, a pine mantle holds a collection of working, antique lanterns.

A formal living room and dining room make up the west wing of the home's first level. While the rooms are small, they are tastefully decorated with white plantation blinds, traditional furniture in shades of dark maroon and rich tapestry-covered chairs. A wrought-iron table with a granite top stands out in the dining room.


Pointing to the west wall of the home, Tom Chiodi describes a future project: "We're going to expand out 16 feet on this level and the level below," he says. "We'll have a sunroom off of the living and dining rooms, and below we'll have a home theater."

The Chiodi children, Gavin, 9, and Maya, 6, are all for the idea. Their bedrooms are on the home's second level, along with a large master suite on the east end of the house. The upstairs also includes a study for the children.

Maya's bedroom is done in pink. Large wooden letters that spell her name hang above the bed. Gavin's room is decorated in red, white and blue.

The home's finished basement includes a spare bedroom and a bath for guests. It also has a living space painted in bright yellow and furnished with black leather, contemporary pieces from the couple's former home.

Plans for the house's expansion keep the family motivated.

Tom Chiodi loves to fish in the stream, the kids love the pool and Lisa Chiodi is finally getting used to the sounds of frogs at night.


"It's so private here," she says. "It's a good place to raise a family. We're never moving."