Richard and Key-Key von Lange wasted no time last August snatching up the Guilford home of their dreams.
"We stole this house," said Key-Key von Lange, who said the couple had been house-hunting fruitlessly in Federal Hill. "We heard about it, went up the next day, took one look and said, 'We're done.'"
The home that abruptly ended the couple's search is a 3,200-square-foot English cottage, built in 1924 by Baltimore architect Edward L. Palmer Jr., designer of numerous early-20th-century revival-style homes in North Baltimore.
The von Langes paid $618,000 for the three-story, cream-colored stucco house with steep slate roof and three dormers (characteristic of Palmer's work). It sits on a quarter-acre along a winding street lined with old oaks and maple trees. The manicured front lawn, like the fenced backyard, is filled with boxwood hedges, flowering shrubs and hostas.
The 13-room house - plus basement - was in excellent condition, the two said. Their only additional expense was to install central air conditioning and transform an upstairs bedroom into a walk-in closet at a total cost of $10,000.
The settled look of the rooms and furnishings makes it seem as if the couple has lived in the home for years.
"I had everything placed in my mind within five minutes of seeing the house," said Key-Key von Lange of her furniture groupings and wall hangings. Many of the rooms' draperies came with the house.
Seated at the dark granite countertop of the kitchen island, Richard von Lange, 55, owner of TechStar Industries, an acoustic control company, produced a crinkled set of floor plans in blue ink on white paper - "the original blueprints from 1924," he noted proudly.
His wife, a 40-year-old sales assistant with Long & Foster, sits on a countertop opposite. Built-in floor-to-ceiling cupboards line three walls of the kitchen and contrast cleanly with stainless appliances and hardwood flooring original to the house.
The von Langes enjoy cooking and entertaining, but their kitchen is only part of the equation.
"I love this room," Richard von Lange said as they moved from the kitchen into the elegant dining room. "This is the only house we saw that could handle our dining room table."
The couple's custom-made cherry Sheridan-style table dominates the room. Eight matching carved chairs hug its 10-foot length. A gold brocade tablecloth complements the gold-toned draperies and the gilt frames of several paintings hung on the celery green walls.
The adjacent living room speaks to subtle, English country warmth. A traditional sofa and love seat in a plush olive microfiber are grouped in front of a bay window adorned in silk draperies of the same hue. Splashes of color are found in bright floral arrangements placed around the room.
Color, brightness and warmth are pervasive in the couple's sunroom, accessible through French doors from the living room. Buttercup yellow paint frames three walls of windows. Sofas in green pastel and colorful chintz slipcovers, as well as hanging plants, evoke a country garden feel.
Key-Key von Lange plays with color and florals on her second and third floors as well. A guest room, one of two, features a sleigh bed in oak treated to a cotton comforter with vibrant, pink zinnias on a white background.
The master bedroom, painted a vivid yellow, has been decorated around a large wall hanging of a field of sunflowers. The red and yellow prints of the bed linens and throw pillows frame the couple's 3-year old yellow Labrador retriever, Tiller, curled comfortably among them.
The home's third floor, once the servants' quarters, houses an office, guest room and full bath - true to the period with a white, claw-foot tub.
"Tiller is one of the major reasons we're here," Richard von Lange said. "The yard and size of the house is right for him. It's a comfortable fit."
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