Six years ago when Ryan and Elizabeth Hopkins were looking for their first home, they had a short list of requirements.
They wanted a city neighborhood where the architecture was diverse, where the trees were tall and the neighbors constituted a cultural mix.
Their hunt ended with the second home they saw - a brick Tudor in the Mount Washington area of Northwest Baltimore, just one mile from the charming village of the same name.
"We were looking for a small-town feel, but in the city, and [close to] its amenities," Elizabeth Hopkins said.
In fact, the couple was so enamored of the circa 1928 house, and so determined not to lose it, that they offered $1,000 more than the asking price, paying $240,000 for the imposing home that sits on a quarter-acre lot on a wide, tree-lined street.
Since the former owners had taken good care of the 2,700- square-foot home, the couple was able to move right in.
While there are still several projects she and her husband, a middle school teacher at Loyola Blakefield, plan on undertaking, Elizabeth Hopkins estimates that to date they've spent just $8,000.
The main expense was for central air conditioning, followed by a new shower and tile in one of the home's two bathrooms, as well as the creation of a child-friendly backyard and patio. Since the move, the Hopkins family has grown to include a son, Finnian, 3; a daughter, 20-month- old Katherine; and Pip, a 4-year-old German shepherd.
Seated at the mahogany table of her brightly lighted dining room, Elizabeth Hopkins talks about her favorite features.
"I love the arched openings," she said. "And the way every room opens into at least two [other] rooms. It provides a nice, open flow."
The arched doorways, just below 9-foot ceilings, accentuate the elegance of the large rooms that feature ceiling molding, 6-inch baseboards, decorative moldings and oak floors.
The effect is anything but stuffy or formal. The dining room is painted light yellow with trim in white, while the living room walls are a soft peach with the same white trim.
Antiques purchased over the years - some from stores, some at auction - add to the homey feel. The dining room pieces are among Elizabeth Hopkins' favorites.
"My china cabinet looks like a bookcase," she said of the tall mahogany piece.
A double pedestal, Sheridan-style table features three leaves for large family gatherings and matching mahogany chairs. A mahogany, Federal-style sideboard boasts inlaid wood.
The living room embodies relaxed elegance with traditional-style furniture upholstered in white duck cloth and a wool rug in shades of dark green, red and blue. Two easy chairs flank a fireplace with a white, carved mantel and black marble hearth. Also flanking the fireplace are two multipaned doors leading to a covered side porch with a floor of terra-cotta tile and decorated with wicker furniture.
The fenced backyard has a patio, garden and swing set and play area for the children.
The home's second level has three large bedrooms with a full bath, complete with separate tub and shower stall. The wide upstairs hall features multipaned windows for natural lighting.
"From the first day we looked at this house, it seemed so cozy," Elizabeth Hopkins said. "It looked like home to us. It's our first and it may very well be our only."
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