Camelot in Perry Hall

The Baltimore Sun

The Cunninghams found their contemporary home in Camelot.

"That's what the previous owner called his house," Carolyn Cunningham said of the 1985, custom-built, two-story home of brick and cedar-shake that the couple purchased five years ago. "It was everything he wanted in a house."

Clean modern lines, a basement, and an acre were everything the Cunninghams wanted, so they put a bid on the house and took possession in February 2002 for $340,000.

"It was in great shape," Allen Cunningham, 48, said. "But it was the former owner's style, very '80s, and I'm about efficiency, purpose and style."

Not long after moving in, Allen Cunningham, a shift operator at Baltimore's RESCO garbage-to-energy plant, went to work on his five-bedroom dream home in Perry Hall. The fact that he considers himself a "no-nonsense person who's about getting [the job] done," made for months of enjoyable renovation that he was more than happy to take on himself.

The couple estimated that they've spent $150,000 on a renovation that includes expanding the outdoor, in-ground pool area, installing a flagstone patio, building a 12-foot-long brick wall with grill insert, landscaping, interior painting, hardwood laminate flooring in the living and dining rooms and outfitting a large picture window in wooden, vertical blinds.

"Then we ran out of money," Carolyn Cunningham joked.

The fruit of their labor is evident from the moment a visitor pulls up on the large parking pad of asphalt that has been sculpted to look like brick. The front garden adjacent to a two-car garage boasts a splashing display of flowering hosta and evergreen bushes winding around stone pathways. The home's front door, painted deep purple, beckons welcome.

A narrow front hall opens onto a grand living room/dining room area with a cathedral ceiling rising 18 feet. Walls throughout the two rooms are painted a faux suede mocha with hunter green accent walls and molding. Allen Cunningham used Ralph Lauren paint.

"When you have a great canvas to work on, you bring out your best materials," he said.

This palette provides a warm backdrop to intentionally minimal furnishings that feature a brown leather loveseat and two side chairs. Accent pieces include carved bronze side tables and a 4-foot marble, lighted pedestal on which stands a vase and flowers fashioned of plaster.

An opposite wall in the living room showcases a collection of colorful, wooden tribal masks the couple picked up in Mexico. The front picture window has light wooden blinds that pick up the color of the wood floor and the geometric area carpet in shades of cream, tan and mocha blocks.

In the dining room is a 6-foot marble top table accompanied by four, high-back cream-colored leather chairs.

The galley-style kitchen is decorated in bistro fashion with clever use of primary colors. Yellow walls give way to green cabinets accented by red tile backsplashes. Red-topped vinyl and chrome ice cream parlor stools gather around a butcher-block island.

Sliders off the family room open onto a backyard that is reminiscent of a South Florida swim club. One side of the yard is landscaped with flowering trees and bushes while an L-shaped pool and large deck area occupy another area. Allen Cunningham has painted Adirondack-style outdoor furniture in bright shades of yellow, aqua and pink.

Back indoors, the couple show off an upper level that includes a computer room and bedrooms for their children, Kirsten, 16, and Allen Jr., 10.

The home's crown jewel, the room that sold the Cunninghams on the house, is a large master bedroom suite over the garage. Here, a raised marble platform houses a hot tub from which the couple can gaze out beyond double sliders to a deck overlooking the backyard.

"I never like to say I love my house, because you shouldn't love an inanimate object," said Carolyn Cunningham, 46, an accounting firm consultant. "But I do."

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