I have written many times about my fondness for the “Period Cottages” from the earlier 20th century, whose designs included Colonial, Craftsman, English, French, and Spanish Colonial architectural styles. To me, the best examples in Easton’s Historic District are the designs of architect William Draper Brinkloe. After I discovered his work, I featured many of his designs in my articles, including one of his four charming cottages that face Idlewild Park, Brinkloe’s “Town” home in the Historic District and his “Country” home on Peachblossom Creek. My favorite Brinkloe design is today’s featured house.
In my research for my previous articles, I discovered a Pattern Book of Brinkloe’s designs with floor plans and a front elevation for each house. When I turned the page to the last design, I immediately recognized a house in Easton’s Historic District. I knew one of the Owners and showed her what I had discovered. She was delighted to learn about her house’s origin and I am grateful to her and her husband for giving me a tour of their charming cottage.
Brinkloe offered two options of this design, the “Small House” and “Large House.” The former is a two room wide, two room deep design containing a living room, dining room, kitchen, back porch and a front porch that wraps around one corner at the front of the house. The latter design relocates the dining room to an addition with service areas that created a continuous flow among the main floor rooms. The original dining room could then have myriad uses- bedroom, family room, etc.
Today’s house is the “Large House” version and it is located on a slight rise on a corner lot so the wrap-around porch overlooks the landscaped front and side yards that contain native plants and grasses. I later learned from the Owners that they are long-time proponents of native plants, and they practice conservation landscaping to provide habitat for local and migratory birds and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). Their favorite bird sightings include ruby crested kinglets, American goldfinch on the seedheads of purple coneflower, cedar waxwings flying between the cedars, winterberry, chokeberry, and hummingbirds on the coral honeysuckle. Monarchs and tiger and zebra swallowtails are regular sightings in the summer, and occasionally Luna moths are also seen. Pine straw paths wind through beds of native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials, providing vibrant color throughout the seasons and privacy in the spring, summer, and early fall.
After walking up the brick walk from the Town sidewalk, I stopped to savor the front elevation that seemed to be influenced by Japanese design with its wide steep gable above the wrap-around porch roof that is broken by another eyebrow curve to mark the front entrance. I then walked up several brick steps to reach the deep front porch that is a true outdoor room. The depth and width of the columns create alcoves that frame the view of the landscape. The Owners met me and I complimented them on their choice of colors (apricot, plum, lime green, and aqua) that gave their house such personality. They told me when they bought the house, the siding and windows were all white and their color choices began with being inspired by a leaf from a maple tree next to the porch.
I admired the paneled wood front door’s plum color with its lime green trim and the elliptical arch of the door with a flared end. The door leads to a shallow vestibule with a coat closet at one side and a French door that opens into the spacious living room.
The vestibule depth creates a window seat in the living room and sets up a conversation area enclosed by the wrap-around windows overlooking the porch.
At the other end of the living room is its dramatic focal point, the exquisite curved inglenook framed by a dropped beam with a shallow elliptical edge resting on columns at each end. The fireplace at the center of the space is flanked by segmented built-in millwork along the curved wall.
The living room is open to the dining room with its built-in corner cabinet between double units of windows and the round wood table and upholstered chairs are centered in the space. Jim Sebastian of Alchemy Works worked with the Owners to alter the rear rooms of the house to make a more functional arrangement. This area was transformed into a galley kitchen that is open to the sunroom that was originally a screened porch, a nook behind the kitchen that will become a laundry, a family room and a bedroom ensuite. Every inch of space was used-Alchemyworks cleverly made deep pantry pull-out shelves to fit against the curved back wall of the living room’s inglenook.
The wrap-around windows at the corner of the sunroom with its original light aqua bead board ceiling, the adjacent TV room and a bedroom ensuite are quiet retreats in the midst of this urban setting.
On the opposite side of the living room is a second entry door leading to a hall and the “U” shaped stairs to the second floor and the door is conveniently located near the off-street parking spaces. The area below the upper run of the stairs has a short door leading to storage under the landing, and a shelf with decorative details of a curved back and sides, with hooks for hanging totes below. I can easily imagine the Owners’ pet companion lounging on the stairs’ landing and enjoying the view from the window since the bottom of the apron trim is just above the landing’s floor. I also admired the color scheme of the stairs with stained wood treads, white risers, darker stained newel post and cap rail and pickets painted the color of sunset.
The second floor rooms are arranged along a double loaded hall. The master suite is tucked under the wide gable infilled with three windows at the front of the house and the gambrel shaped ceiling creates delightful interior architecture.
Between the hall and the bedroom is a sitting room/office at the side wall under the eyebrow dormer infilled with three multi paned windows with elliptical headers. Opposite the hall from the master bedroom is another exquisite space that is used as an office.
The rear wall’s focal point is a pair of wide windows that infills the entire wall under another gambrel shaped ceiling. At the side knee wall, short windows are set at the perfect height for views of the landscape from the chaise when one needs a break from work.
A large hall bath is cleverly tucked under the roof slope and contains two separate lavatories, one of which is a porcelain enameled sink that was recycled from a kitchen. The hall ends at the side bedroom with a double window unit under a dormer that the couple’s young daughter claimed for her bedroom on the family’s first visit to the house.
It was so easy to linger in this charming house that has so many original details from the curved header over the front door, the eyebrow dormers, the exquisite inglenook in the living room, the five-paneled interior doors, built-in millwork and a thoughtful arrangement of window sizes and placement. As I toured the house, I was again reminded how fortunate Easton is to have Brinkloe’s legacy of cottages that are highly prized by their current owners. My compliments to the Owners of this gem who have given the formerly white house a coat of many colors and filled the interiors with an eclectic mix of antiques, mid century modern pieces and colorful mixed-media artwork. Brava and Bravo!
Architecture by William Draper Brinkloe.
“The Small Home: How to Plan and Build It” by William Draper Brinkloe.
Renovation Construction by Alchemyworks, Jim Sebastian, www.alchemy-works.net, 410-693-9049
To learn more about and to purchase native plants, visit adkinsarboretum.org.
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.
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