Two years ago last August, Melissa and Rick Henry decided to sell their Baltimore County townhouse and move to a single-family home.
"We were looking for an open floor plan," said Melissa Henry, a stay-at-home mother of two. "[We] wanted to see our kids from any room on the [first] floor."
Rick Henry, a 35-year-old liquor salesman, on a different wave of thought, added that the couple likes to welcome guests.
"We entertain a lot," he said. "This house is great for entertaining."
The two-story contemporary, single-family home is in a new Catonsville development less than a mile from their old townhouse.
After the move, the Henrys began improvements.
"We worked with what the builder gave us and then did our own upgrades," Melissa Henry said.
Upgrades completed by a friend in the construction business, and with Rick Henry's help, included oak flooring with a mocha finish throughout the first level, granite countertops with tiles of tumbled marble for a backsplash, tumbled marble in the guest bathroom, paint for the first- and second-floor walls and the addition of a 24-by-12-foot outdoor deck.
"We're out there every day, and we entertain on the deck," Melissa Henry said.
The cost of these upgrades totaled $45,000.
The back of the home faces west and it is there, in the kitchen and family room, that Rick and Melissa Henry spend most of their time.
The kitchen cabinets are light maple, pleasingly blending with stainless-steel appliances. A separate island and a half wall with columns provide a view to the family room, where a flat-screen TV hangs over the fireplace mantel. A sectional sofa and large ottoman of beige micro-fiber provide high contrast to walls painted a deep cadet blue. From the sofa, the couple can see the dining and living rooms, where the children play.
The dining room features a mahogany table with glass top and matching chairs. A large mahogany buffet sits under an oil painting of a bartender pouring a martini out of a stainless-steel shaker, an appropriate picture for a liquor salesman. So too the bottles of liquor on the buffet top.
The living room could easily be called the room of swirls. Here, a deco chaise longue and sofa in a terra-cotta shade of duck cloth feature undulating backs and rounded arms. Above the sofa a painting of colored ribbonlike waves in red, orange, purple, yellow and brown weave in and around each other.
A shelving unit on the opposite wall of the room is filled with children's books and toys - a twist on the traditional family room for kids, living room for adults design. But as the couple pointed out, they like to keep an eye on the kids while watching television, working in the kitchen or relaxing in the back of the house.
Four bedrooms on the second level allow an office for Rick Henry, a master suite and a room for each child, 5-year-old Hayden and 17-month-old Kylie.
Melissa Henry speaks of the family-friendly neighborhood with the school bus stop a few yards from their home and the convenience of the Baltimore Beltway just blocks away.
Standing against the plantation blinds in her dining room, she admits to being a neat freak.
But, she says, "We're clutter free!"
Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a dream home
Dream element:: Melissa and Rick Henry's new home in Catonsville's Paradise Village community is one of 17 properties, each home a two-story, contemporary style with touches of Craftsman design found in the chunky build of the front porch rails, the prominent front gables and windows that are half multi-pane and half full-pane glass.
Design inspiration:: The Henrys worked with the home's open, fluid interior design, a potpourri of angles and openings punctuated by columns, and a two-story bump-out where the first floor boasts bay windows. The couple's minimalistic furniture choices, contemporary and deco in flavor, are attractively set against walls painted deep blue, light taupe and burgundy - all in contrast to white molding and trim work. Each piece of furniture is a standout on its own merit, not wedged in with other pieces to create a busy look. The walls are attractive by nature of their bareness, which emphasizes the open flow yet defines the living areas. A few well-placed wall hangings, like the painting of colorful swirls done on four distinct canvasses placed over the living room sofa, add splashes of interest and additional color to the decor.
Personal touch:: Photos of the Henrys' children, Hayden, 5, and Kylie, 17 months, are neatly arranged on the family room wall straddling the fireplace. Melissa Henry also got creative with the children's bedrooms. In Hayden's room, a mural of Spider-Man flies over the bed, while baby Kylie's room, done in lime green and soft pink, features her name in block letters hung on the wall over her crib.