Bob and Susan Lathroum had always dreamed of owning and operating a bed-and-breakfast. So 11 years ago, when Bob lost his third management job in 15 years, the couple decided the time was right to pursue that dream. The quest led them from Linthicum to Chestertown on the Eastern Shore.
"The second time I crossed the bridge over the Chester River, I said, 'This is home,' " Susan Lathroum recalled of the historic little town.
The Lathroums purchased the Widow's Walk Inn in 1997. Covered in yellow clapboard siding and trimmed with deep red shutters, the stately Victorian was built in 1877 and is listed in Chestertown's historic registry.
The couple settled into the carriage house behind the inn. It was built in 1989 and was a part of the sale.
While Susan Lathroum read books on running a bed-and-breakfast, her husband updated the mansion's wiring and plumbing and replaced the roof.
They spent $50,000 for furnishings that would be true to the Victorian era and be comfortable.
The parlor, with its mahogany shuttered bay windows, has been treated to a pair of tufted velvet side chairs in bright pink. Queen Anne-styled wing chairs are covered in soft blue, and a striped camelback sofa sits behind an oak coffee table. The dining room, in addition to bright floral wallpaper, boasts a long, double-pedestal mahogany table.
Homey bed quilts in chenille and embroidered cotton cover the beds in all five guest rooms, while antique wall hangings and little touches, such as silk-flower arrangements and lace curtains, recall the Victorian era that the Lathroums' guests so enjoy.
making the house their own
* Keeping it in the family. The Lathroums placed family pieces throughout the inn, such as a mahogany side cabinet in the parlor and Bob Lathroum's childhood bedroom furniture in a guest room.
* Simple decor. In the carriage house, the Lathroums went for a country-cottage decor that includes overstuffed, floral upholstered chairs, a round oak dining table with Windsor-backed chairs and simple tie-back curtains at the window. The unfussy decor here is in contrast to the frills and high ornamentation in the mansion house.