Downsized, but hardly less spacious


Five years ago, Bob and Libby Younglove decided to sell what they called the "party house" - their large, Tudor-style home situated on two acres in Towson.

Empty-nesters, they settled into Ruxton Crossing, a townhouse development nearby. They paid $220,000 for the brick and cedar-shake, end-of-group structure. It includes more than 3,000 square feet on three levels, a private deck and a two-car garage.

Pleased with their purchase, they invested an additional $65,000 on designer fabrics, paint and demolition.

"I wanted to take out three walls on the first floor to provide openness and flow," says Libby Younglove, 57, a homemaker.

The L-shaped layout that was initially designed to feature an entrance hall, kitchen, dining room, living room, den and atrium was converted to one large open space. Just past the entrance hall, and the kitchen immediately north of it, this open area makes up three-quarters of the home's main level. The rooms are not defined by walls, but by furniture groupings.

"The home has been opened up, but not so that you'd feel uncomfortable," says John Hale of Hale & Rexroad Interior Design. "Intimate areas have been created to accommodate 40 to 60 people at a time."

Just east of the kitchen, where once there was the dining room, the Youngloves have fashioned a family room highlighted by red leather pub-style chairs. A cabinet in one corner, purchased from Home Depot, has been treated to the same faux painting as the walls - a cream base with a gold wash to produce a marble effect.

A family heirloom - a carved wood, Egyptian-style sofa - serves as the focal point of this area. Framed watercolor portraits of the Younglove children, Elizabeth and Rebecca, hang above the sofa.

"The whole east end of the house is windows," Younglove says.

Windows on the three walls and ceiling of the solarium bounce twinkling Christmas tree lights onto the glass in a three-mirrored effect. The Youngloves' 9-foot tree includes an ornament collection of crystal icicles, angels and colored glass carousels along with a miniature train on tracks below.

The living and family areas include a unique ceiling treatment by artist Kathy Taylor. Two gold rectangles in a Greek design were painted on cream-colored ceilings.

An Asian influence is evident in the living room chairs. The bold primary colors feature noblemen in a bucolic setting. The north wall of the living area features a working fireplace with a wood mantel painted white and accentuated with dentil molding. A painting by a family friend hangs above the mantle and depicts Impressionist painter Claude Monet's home in Giverney. Its subtle, pastel shades of blues, greens and pinks coordinate with the medallion rug over natural pine flooring.

South of the living area, where once there was a den, the Youngloves removed a wall, replaced it with two Doric columns and fashioned a formal dining room. Here, a 12-lamp chandelier with gilt tassels reflects light onto a sliding door leading to an outside deck.

A large mirror hangs above an oak sideboard. A 100-year-old Limoges cake service for 12 is displayed on the wall around the mirror. The dishes are hand-painted with a gold design over a cobalt blue base.

"I can't believe how much we use our dining room," Younglove says.

The staircase to the second level is open, the couple having opted to remove the railing. The upstairs hallway showcases hand-woven quilts dating to the early 19th century. Hung on wooden dowels and highlighted by track lighting, the quilts represent the work of the couple's ancestors.

The guest room holds much of the family history, Younglove says. An oak sleigh bed is covered with a popcorn-crochet spread, worked in a diamond pattern in off-white, pearl cotton by her grandmother and great-grandmother. Younglove relates its history as she pulls from a drawer the sewing basket and threads the women used.

"This house is way deceiving," Younglove says later as she descends the staircase to the lower level.

Her husband's office on the north end is dominated by a mural of a photographed forest and waterfall, reflected in a mirror on the opposite wall. A sliding window opens to an outside pond and miniature waterfall created under the first floor deck. The great room on the lower level features beamed ceilings and a second fireplace, with a raised, circular hearth of light brick.

Seated at the first-floor kitchen table, in front of sliders to a private patio, Younglove ponders her next redecorating project. She is anxious to update cabinets and appliances.

"This is a 'lock and go' type of house," she says, "perfect for us because we travel, and there is no maintenance."

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