When I saw the word “artisan” in the first line of the agent remarks for this property, I was immediately intrigued. My mother was a member of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild and from an early age I accompanied her to craft shows that began my life-long love of art, basketry, ceramics, metalwork, painting, weaving and many more creative endeavors formed by those artisans as if by magic to my young eyes so long ago. When I drove up to this property, it reminded me of sites above the cliffs of Great Britain with its perch forty feet high above the Chesapeake Bay. The cottage’s heavily textured white stucco exterior walls, light olive trim with delightful accents of purple in the plank style shutters and trim topped with a Widow’s Walk that stands out in its exuberant landscape of plants and flowers surrounded by mature trees confirmed my comparison.
As I walked under the gable roof over the front door with the side brackets ornamented with curves and other geometric shapes I felt I was literally on the threshold of an amazing experience and indeed I was. The Owners graciously gave me a tour and I soon learned he was the talented woodworker and she was the equally talented gardener who together over 40 years created this special place that obviously was a labor of love. I first stood still and savored the wonderful interiors of the living-dining-kitchen area since so many treasures and visual delights vied for my attention. The wide plank floors that had once been the roof decking now had their turn to shine and I especially loved the plaster walls for their texture. This material inspired the detailing of the windows with gently curved corners that eliminate wood jambs, painted wood sill and apron and the roughhewn planks weathered to a fine patina that are set into the plaster just deep enough to become a decorative header.
I admired the living room fireplace’s unique dark wood shallow mantel in an unusual shape and the owner explained it was carved to resemble a ship’s hull. Flanking the fireplace are polygonal porthole windows with low iron candleholders adorned with colorful metal fish sculptures. A merry mermaid is aloft over the wide picture window that frames the water of the Bay and I secretly coveted the brightly colored ceramic fish plates on a shelf at the dining area. The sill height of the picture window is carefully set to maximize the view to the water as if you were aboard a boat.
I thought the beautiful wood corner cupboard was an antique but the owner proudly admitted he had built the piece from reclaimed wood. Two pilasters of reclaimed wood frame the view from the living room to the kitchen and the wood base for the kitchen island countertop began its life as a sideboard. Its green paint and wood top is a pleasing contrast to the white cabinetry lining the walls. I collect pitchers and I complemented the owner for the variety of style and color of her collection positioned along the top of the upper cabinets.
Beyond the kitchen is the powder room whose clever lavatory pedestal resembles a Corinthian column capital but the owner told me it was once part of a church pulpit. The main floor bedroom suite has many special details including a fireplace adorned with two cherubs intertwined in an embrace whose bodies blend into the leaves to outline a heart shape. Adjacent to the bedroom is the exquisite screened porch with a pitched ceiling of exposed rafters and decking and the collar beam and brackets under the rafters are painted the accent green color. The solid walls below the screened panels define the enclosure and the TV makes this spot the perfect space for binge watching movies. The colorful carved wooden figurehead once mounted at the bow of a ship now serenely observes the terra firma below her new position under the ridge of the ceiling.
Before I climbed the stairs to the second floor, I admired the detailing of the lower treads that gracefully spill into the living room with the bottom tread curving around to the wall to beckon one upwards. The window at the landing is set low to create the perfect spot for a beloved pet to await the return of his/her human companions. The sinuous wood handrail was a piece of wood the owners found on the beach and its diameter was perfect for my hand to grasp. The second floor contains two guest suites and a bath with one of the bedrooms a second primary bedroom. The wood furnishings are painted white with a slight distressed finish and the decorative fretwork and filagree motifs make the bed frame a work of art. Once again I was amazed to learn that the owner had made all of the wood furnishings.
The vertical travel that begins at the main floor stairs continues to the spiral stair that culminates in a double height cupola. The lower part is a cozy room with double windows at the front wall and triple windows at the back wall. Built-in seating doubles as a bed for a lucky guest and the owners mentioned this is the favorite spot of their grandchildren but I think children of all ages would be equally enchanted too. A ladder leads to the upper part of the cupola with glazed windows on all sides of its polygonal shape. An operable window leads to the Widow’s Walk surrounded by iron railings for 360 degree views of the Bay and I imagined how stunning it would be to stargaze at night from this space!
I reluctantly climbed down and postponed my departure by strolling through the beautiful gardens fragrant with the scent of honeysuckle that inspired the name of this enchanting house. Climbing hydrangea provide shade for the pergola over the terrace off the dining room and the day lilies are just beginning to bloom. The charming small enclosure with a pitched pergola turned out to be an outdoor shower. The meandering brick path wove its way through the planting area to a deck with colorful Adirondack chairs overlooking the Bay. The corner area of the landscaping is carved into the hill with a gravel switchback path outlined by stacked slabs of stone between the terraced plantings. A statuesque mermaid with her “copper”tone tan marks the way to the flight of steps down to the deck just above the top of the bouldered riprap about four feet above the water. Here you can relax, gaze at the parade of the Bay’s traffic from freighters to sailboats and be quickly mesmerized by the soothing sound of the water lapping over the rocks before launching a canoe or kayak to explore the shoreline.
Truly amazing property with unique artisan touches-my compliments to the owners whose combined creative talents and interior design made “Honeysuckle Haven” unforgettable for this architect-Bravo and Brava! I hope new owners will fully appreciate this very special house and gardens.
For more information about this property contact Lynn Hilfiker with Gunther McClary Real Estate at 410-639-2118 (o), 443-480-1163 (c) or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more photographs and pricing visit www.rockhallrealestate.com , “Equal Housing Opportunity”.
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.