When house hunting, it's hard to overlook an area called Paradise.
For Bob and Michele Evans, their first day of home shopping with a Realtor in the southwest Baltimore County neighborhood turned up the perfect place for them.
"This house made the best impression on us," said Michele Evans, 40, of their brick, two-story rowhouse in the Catonsville neighborhood of Paradise.
"We knew where we wanted to be," added her husband, Bob, born the same day as his wife. "We wanted an end-of group [house] with a lawn on the side and a fireplace."
With both having grown up in the area, location was everything - especially proximity to the couple's respective workplaces - Michele Evans at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Bob Evans in South Baltimore.
And so, after two years of renting in Arbutus, the couple purchased their Paradise dream in March 1993 for $103,000. Only the third owners of the house built in 1954, they were pleased that all it needed "was tender loving care."
"The bathroom had recently been redone, there was a flush in the basement and the original slate roof was in good shape," Bob Evans said, adding that after buying the house, they "couldn't afford a fixer-upper."
However, in the past 14 years they have invested about $30,000 in upgrades that included replacing all of the windows, painting, adding a 20-foot-wide by 10-foot- deep covered deck at the rear of the home, replacing the heating and air-conditioning systems, upgrading the kitchen sink, installing new cupboards and putting a concrete parking pad at the end of their backyard.
The Evans home is easily one of the most attractive exteriors on the block. The couple work hard at maintaining a beautiful lawn and landscape. The front walk at street level is lined with multicolored impatiens all the way to a porch surrounded by a wrought iron railing.
A wooden plank is attached to the railing where three flags hang. Besides the American and Maryland flags, there's one for the Orioles or Ravens - depending on the season, they switch one bird flag for another.
The exterior door frame is of light Formstone, in contrast to the red brick. Immediately inside the front door, a small slate rectangle serves as fancy doormat before you step inside and onto the blush-colored wall-to-wall carpeting. The interior, 20 feet wide and 40 feet long, is separated at the center (living room in the front of the house and dining room in the rear) by a staircase leading to the second level.
Carefully chosen paint reflects the couple's desire for color along with an awareness of the size of the rooms. The living room has been painted a creamy peach color, while the dining room features walls in light mauve with a darker mauve shade adorning the door molding and chair rail. All three choices complement pub-style living room furniture in brown shades and a light oak dining room suite.
The kitchen features a French country theme, with walls powder blue and cabinets in white. A faux brick backsplash coordinates with white and stainless appliances and blue Formica countertops. A country-style back door, its windowed top adorned with chintz curtains, opens onto the deck and double parking pad in the backyard below.
Michele Evans considers the pad one of the best upgrades they have made to the house, since parallel parking spots in front of rowhouses are often at a premium. The yard space taken up by the pad is compensated for by the side yard where the couple's two daughters, Stephanie, 9, and Amanda, 4, play.
The second floor contains three bedrooms and a full bathroom. Bob Evans is in the process of painting the smallest room while its occupant, Amanda, shares the middle-size room with her sister.
"We'll switch around again when it's time to paint [Stephanie's] room," he said.
Bob and Michele Evans are reluctant to think about a move after their 14 years of Paradise contentment. The house's size and convenient location serve them well.
"This house is our first," Michele Evans said. "And it could be our one and only."
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