In July 2007, Diana Ramsay and her partner, Michael Greene, purchased a home that would transport them from city to county - from vertical to horizontal.
Putting their 15-foot wide, three-level rowhouse with rooftop deck in Federal Hill behind them, they jumped headfirst into a new lifestyle in the form of a sprawling ranch home in Ruxton.
"We wanted a home that would be special not only for us, but also for family and friends," Diana Ramsay said. "The home needed to feel like a sanctuary with multiple outdoor areas for social gatherings."
The couple also knew that they had set exceptionally high standards when it took two years to find the right home. But patience and determination won out.
"On our first walk through this home, Diana and I realized immediately that it had the features we felt were important," Greene said. "It has such exceptional flow, with so many comfortable and unique areas to hang out that our guests don't all end up in the kitchen."
It is the kitchen and surrounding spaces, however, that the couple considers the heart of the home, one that Greene says "opens to several wonderful outdoor and indoor areas." This addition, just beyond the original kitchen that had been renovated by the prior owner, includes a morning room, a den, sunroom, mudroom and bedroom suite.
Angular in its construction, the addition showcases large, multipaned windows placed below and into cathedral ceilings. The den's contemporary decor features a bright red plush sofa and two yellow leather high-back chairs. Lush green trees are like a painting framed by a curtain-less window. It is here in the den that the couple's two pets speak to each other. In one cage sits a feisty Quaker parrot; in another cage, across the room, an older, more sedate cockatiel resides. "How does the duck go?" the parrot asks. "Quack, quack," the cockatiel responds.
The original part of the home - with living room, dining room and three bedrooms - is used less frequently by the couple. They nonetheless enjoyed furnishing the rooms in neutral decor but with splashes of colorful accessories and framed prints and posters.
As they enjoy their relaxed lifestyle in the ranch home nestled among vegetation that includes magnolias, pine, oak, maple, black walnut and mimosa trees, they never look back on the bustle of city life, especially since their old neighborhood is a mere 15-minute drive away.
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Making a dream home
Dream element: : This large, modified L-shaped rancher sits back off a quiet street in Ruxton, northern Baltimore County. Situated on an acre of land, with a stream running through the property, this circa 1950, painted brick home with two additions is cradled in lush landscaping and tall trees.
Design inspiration:: The rancher, with two angular additions boasting large, gabled windows and cathedral ceilings, dictated a contemporary style with touches of the eclectic. Ten bird cages, many of wrought iron (and examples of fine furniture in their own right), are placed throughout the home's 4,700 square feet of living space. "This way, the birds can be with us wherever [we] are in the house," Diana Ramsay said.
Surprise feature:: A solitary exterior courtyard, unseen from any other area of the house, sits just beyond the doors of the couple's bedroom. Here, a table and two chairs rest on a flagstone patio. Nearby, flower baskets hang from a light post.
Personal touch:: The couple came to their new home with a den sofa and two chairs and a dining room set, the idea being to totally refurnish the home as a joint endeavor. "We focused our efforts in picking furniture together," said Ramsey. "Our joint tastes ended in the best result."