House of the Week: Town Home with a Twist

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Queen Street is another of my favorite streets in Chestertown’s Historic District because of its historic character of distinctive architecture, mature trees, brick sidewalks and the close proximity to the attractions of High Street and the waterfront. This charming Victorian semi-attached townhome has appealing outdoor spaces from the front porch that spans the full width of the house and the private fenced rear yard.  An added plus is off-street parking for two cars.

In many town home designs, the front door is at one side of a house opposite the stairway so it was a very pleasant surprise that this house’s front door opens directly into the living room. The stairs for this house are between the living -dining area and the kitchen at the rear of the house which maximizes the size of the living and dining rooms.

Two long windows at the front and another window at the side wall bring daylight into the living room. The focal point of the room is the fireplace with millwork on each side surrounded by comfortable upholstered pieces that are anchored by a beautiful rug of colorful floral squares and accent pieces of warm wood.

Columns below a beam define the full-width wall opening leading to the dining area with its side wall windows, wood table and chairs and a painted armoire for storage. A small accent table and two extra chairs for dining are placed against the living room sofa to maximize the space.  All the windows in the living and dining rooms have sheers to filter the sunlight and to provide privacy.

I loved the kitchen with its checkerboard patterned kitchen floor, the white cabinets with glass-fronted upper cabinets and the rear wall of windows with views of the yard. The range hood shaft is accented by a shelf with collectibles and the table for two in the middle of the room is a cozy spot for breakfast. A cut-out in the side wall next to the refrigerator opposite the range brings daylight into this corner of the room from the kitchen’s rear windows. Another cut-out in the front of the kitchen wall offers a vista to the front door and could also be a pass-through to the dining room.

The charming master bedroom on the second floor has a painted rattan headboard trimmed in the same fabric as the bedspread and window valances, two painted nightstands and lamps to create a serene retreat. Another bedroom and a third bedroom complete the second floor plan.  The third floor with the computer below the dormer window and built-in shelving is a quiet home office space.

Victorian charm with original details including the beautifully maintained pine flooring, spacious living -dining area, updated kitchen, great outdoor rooms in a prime location- a perfect in-town spot!

 

For more information about this property, contact Sarah Dean with Cross Street Realtors at 410-778-3779 (o),410-708-2528  (c) or sarah@csrealtors.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.

Habitat: Atelier 11, the East End of Easton and Adaptive Re-Use

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This year, the architecture and interior design firm Atelier 11 celebrates twenty-five years of design excellence in architecture and interior design.  Notable projects include the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Building Complex, the Talbot Hospice building, the Community Center at Londonderry and Evergreen Cove as well as numerous new residences, seamless addition and renovations.

The ESLC complex was unique for its sustainability and for its being a historic building that now has a new life to house the ESLC offices and other non-profits.  Glass interior walls encourage collaboration and the stained concrete floors and brick walls are preserved elements of the building’s early days. The building’s welcoming form, colors and sunny interior spaces of Talbot Hospice have drawn back many people whose loved ones spent their last days there. Many people return to visit the chapel or stroll the grounds and feel the presence of their loved ones.

The Londonderry Community Center was an opportunity to provide an environment for residents to socialize or to try a new skill including dance, art, crafts, or attend lectures to exercise the “little grey cells” as Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot, was fond of saying. Evergreen Cove was an opportunity to literally think “outside the box” of a brick rancher.  Atelier 11’s solution opened up the box to nature and is a peaceful setting for yoga and other healing arts.

What many Talbot County residents may not know is the firm has also made a significant contribution to urban design. When they built their office at 11 S. Aurora Street in 2002, the East End needed revitalization to eliminate vacant lots and to renovate the existing housing stock before structures deteriorated to the point that demolition was necessary.  They constructed their building in the middle of a vacant block and opened for business.

Slowly but surely other building owners or investors followed Atelier 11’s pioneering lead and rescued this neighborhood to give it a solid future. After completing their building, Atelier 11 added development to their list of services. They designed and built two new houses on lots near their building to knit the streetscape back together. Now that the Easton Town Council has voted to approve the creation of an Arts and Entertainment District, the availability of tax credits will ensure the East End will continue to thrive.

Their office building is also an example of how good design matters in creating a building that can adapt to changing economic times and uses. When the housing and real estate crash occurred in 2008, firms in Easton had to make painful choices about staff but luckily Atelier 11 retained core staff. They consolidated their office on the second floor and opened a gallery on the first floor.

After five years of having a second office in Lynchburg, VA, to add University work and downtown development projects to their repertoire, the firm converted their Easton building to a live-work space and relocated staff to a studio at the corner of Washington and Dover Streets. Now on the market, 11 S. Aurora St. could be a gallery/living space, a single family residence, or a commercial building. As Principal Architect Lauren jokingly remarked to me, “it is probably the only residence that has a fully compliant ADA bathroom on the first floor.”

On the day I visited, one of the firm’s associates, Tom Batchelor, gave me a tour of the completed construction.  I had always admired the distinctive front door mat created by embedding rounded edged stones into mortar that provides a distinctive way to remove mud from one’s shoes.  The former reception area now becomes a spacious entrance hall with filtered light from both the front French door and sidelights and from the stair landing beyond. The ADA compliant restroom now is a full bath with the renovation of an adjacent storage room for an ADA shower. The former studio space has been transformed and could be an open plan living-dining-kitchen or a studio area . The rear high windows at the South Street side of the building filter sunlight in while maintaining privacy. The former Principals’ two offices are now a bedroom and a den.

As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, we paused at the landing with its dramatic large window overlooking the surrounding neighborhood. I asked Tom how many buildings we could see that had been renovated since Atelier 11’s pioneering building. He told me the firm had actually compiled a map that showed over seventeen buildings which is an amazing statistic.   

The second floor now contains three bedrooms, one of which is a spacious master suite.  The overlook to the first floor has been maintained and also provides light into the hall from the window at the side wall. The master suite has a French door to a terrace with a stair down to the sidewalk along South Street and would be a great space for sunbathing. Opposite the terrace is the “Tower”, a two-story rental unit with living, dining and kitchen on the first floor and a bedroom and bath on the second floor.

Co-Principals  Jon Braithwaite and Lauren Dianich divide their time between offices according to who is the lead on projects.  The next generation of Atelier 11 will continue under the leadership of senior staff of Christian Chute and Tom Batchelor and support staff in both offices.  Happy Anniversary to a talented team of architects and interior designers who have been responsible for some of Talbot County’s best design work, and for the community service that is part of the firm’s mission.  Bravo!

For more information about this property, contact Kelly Showell with Benson & Mangold Real Estate at 410-822-1415 (o), 410-829-5468 (c) or kshowell1958@gmail.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

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.

 

Spy House of the Week: Before and After in Rock Hall

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I am indebted to the Spy reader who emailed me about the work done by two intrepid home owners who have been renovating their Rock Hall property since they purchased the property in 2015. The Spy reader thought it would be a great idea for a “Before and After” profile and last Sunday I visited with owners Kimberly and Bill to tour the  garage/guest house and the main house.

After spending many weekends at Rock Hall, they soon fell under the spell of this charming community and began their search for a weekend/summer place. They were attracted to this house’s historic architectural character, especially the stacked sunrooms at the outside corners of both floors, the full front porch and the woods beyond the rear yard.

On the day I visited, the work on the detached garage/guest suite was complete and the upper floor guest suite was now their weekend retreat while the construction on the main house continued.  They showed me several “before” pictures and the deteriorated condition of the main house and garage would have deterred many buyers. Not these two! Bill is a bridge engineer and Kimberly is a kindergarten teacher who has an innate interior design talent. Both of them collaborated on the space planning and the construction.

Their master plan began with demolition in 2015. Overgrown shrubbery, a mature tree that needed to be removed, the main house’s rear wing whose roof was collapsing, inadequate  foundations, etc., were part of a long list that had to be resolved before the fun of transformation could begin. Next, they tackled the garage and extended its footprint to create space on the second floor for a one-bedroom apartment that is a cozy temporary home for them due to Kimberly’s flair for interior design.

The last two years have been spent on the construction of the main house. During demolition, they discovered the exterior wall construction was balloon framing, where the stud walls are uninterrupted up to the roof joists, without door or window headers. Another challenge was the low ceiling height. They wisely decided to leave the original exterior walls as-is and construct new inner walls to support the windows, doors, floor and roof joists.  The added advantages to this approach are a deep exterior wall that can be infilled with insulation for better thermal comfort and higher ceilings in the new spaces.

In the main house, they moved the stair from the side wall to the center to separate the living room from the sunroom. Behind the living room will be the kitchen and dining area, a side entry from the driveway and a bedroom suite. At the rear is a roofed deck that will become a screened porch.  Since this space is outside of the main house footprint, it has a high pitched ceiling and views to the wooded area beyond the yard.

The front of the second floor will be a wonderful master suite. The bedroom is separated from the corner sunroom by the stairs and the sunroom will become a sitting room for the master suite.  Light will filter into the stairwell from the sunroom windows through the interior windows in the wall between the sunroom and the stairs. Behind the master bedroom will be the master bath and closets, laundry, a second bath and two other bedrooms at the rear of the house.

The stud walls are in place and the rough-in plumbing, HVAC and electrical is being done so interior finishing will be the next step for this talented duo.  After they move into their new home, Kimberly and Bill are considering renting their garage apartment with its private deck. The Spy looks forward to reporting on the completed house-stay tuned!

 

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.

Spy House of the Week:  Shaker Style

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I was immediately attracted to this charming property for its exquisite landscaping, architectural style and interiors. From the driveway you pass through a gateway in the wooden fence marked by a pitched pergola. The rear yard is beautifully landscaped with flowering trees, plantings and lawn. Brick paths meander through the landscape to reach the guest house or the workshop that once was a sailmaker’s shop and office. The simple form of the house has a main wing with a center front door flanked by windows on either side and a brick chimney piercing the roof. A secondary wing telescopes down on one side with a front window and another chimney. Corner boards, shallow eaves, off white siding, window boxes under each window and brick stair winders down to the ground reminded me of Shaker simplicity. The rear elevation is equally appealing with its long shed roof dormer and a pergola covering a deck  at the rear landscaped yard.

I simply loved the interior design of every room. The front door opens onto a short hall that is a gallery lined with family photographs of various sizes. The living room has a wood stove at one end and walls of bookcases at the other end that wrap around the interior wall.  Upholstered wing chairs, a Chesterfield loveseat, craftsman styled tables, colorful pillows and walls with art create a cozy room for relaxing. A wide doorway framed in wood leads to the dining area. The beautiful craftsmanship of the wood table, chairs and sideboard reminded me of the Thomas Moser Collection and the antique corner cabinets added more warmth of wood.  Art and collectibles were artfully arranged to set the table for lingering over a meal.

The kitchen’s craftsman’s styled wood cabinets, terra-cotta colored tile countertops,  backsplash, and stainless steel appliances were very pleasing. I liked the mix of upper cabinets flush to the ceiling and open shelving for displaying serving pieces, crocks and other utensils. I especially liked the use of pendant lighting with fabric shades instead of the ubiquitous recessed downlights. I also liked how the wood shutters in all the rooms only covered the lower part of the windows, providing seated privacy when needed while allowing light within from the upper window panes.

I thought the living room was my favorite room until I saw the second floor bedroom. The chamfered ceiling, wood floors and the sitting area under the long row of windows under the shed dormer created great interior architecture.  The HVAC grille was cleverly disguised in a wall of full height built-in millwork. One side was low next to the window seat and the other was higher to incorporate the HVAC grille with a ledge to display artifacts. The craftsman style wood bed frame, the soft colors of the bedspread, the wall mounted lamps on either side of the bed and the wooden rocking chair created a restful retreat. I liked how the knee walls were just high enough for bedside tables and art above. The shed dormer created a wide nook offset from the bedroom and the window wall below the shed dormer had a row of books to hide the windows’ header and storage below with hinged tops . Closets with louvered doors at each end  of the nook added more storage.

The guest house interior design was as charming as the main house. Stained wood ceiling joists below white decking, white walls and wood floors created a bright and cozy space. Twin beds, wood chairs, a small trestle table with wood armchairs, a small kitchenette and light from several windows would encourage any guest to prolong their stay.

With the highest level of craftsmanship in the construction and interior finishes, this exquisite property close to the Chesapeake Bay would be the perfect weekend retreat!

 

For more information about this property contact  Lynn Hilfiker with Gunther McClary Real Estate at 410-639-2118 (o), 443-480-1163 (c)  or lynnhilfiker@gmail.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.

Habitat: The Garden Sculptures of Jan Kirsh

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Last winter when gardens were dormant, I featured the colorful garden sculptures of landscape designer Jan Kirsh.  Since 2009, her fruit and vegetable collection has grown to include artichokes, asparagus, carrots, eggplants, figs, pears and peppers that have enlivened the gardens of many Eastern Shore residences and galleries. This month she unveiled her new 36” tall pineapple sculpture and has already installed two of them on top of brick posts that flank the entrance gates of a fabulous vegetable garden south of Annapolis. The pineapple has long been regarded as the symbol of hospitality and Jan’s creative and whimsical interpretation with lime green foliage, undulating texture and bold tropical colors make her pineapple design a distinctive addition to her collection.

Jan moved to the Eastern Shore in 1978 and quickly made a name for herself as a talented landscape designer. As her garden design practice flourished and evolved, she found that her clients often requested that she  help them site existing sculpture and/or art objects in their gardens as part of her landscape design effort.

That facet of her work was fun and challenging and inspired her to return to her sculptural roots and to create fruit and vegetable pieces that could be incorporated into the gardens she designed. The best of both worlds for Jan is to design and then build a garden that includes a custom piece of her sculpture especially suited for the location.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Jan also has designed a line of 3-D printed jewelry including the popular halved fig in bronze and steel with Swarovski crystals that  add significant sparkle. Jan will soon launch an e-store where fans can purchase the jewelry, fruit and vegetable sculptures or commission a custom piece.

After seeing Jan’s luscious pineapple, I was reminded of the duet from “Cabaret” about another pineapple that was a gift from a suitor to his lady love:

“If you brought me diamonds,

If you brought me pearls,  

If you brought me roses like some other gents

Might bring to other girls-

It wouldn’t please me more

Than the gift I see

A pineapple for me…:

Whether you are seeking a pineapple for your garden or a gift for the gardener in your life, what better way to perk up your garden this spring with the exotic and colorful pineapple?

A portfolio of her landscape work can be seen at her website www.jankirshstudio.com or contact her at 410-745-5252 (o),410-310-1198 (c) or email at.jankirshstudio@gmail.com. “It Couldn’t Please Me More”, from the musical ‘Cabaret’, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.

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.

Spy House of the Week: Cozy Comfort on a River

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The setting, exterior color palette and massing of this property is very appealing. The front elevation of the “L” shaped house has one wing containing shed roof extensions covering a front porch and a bay window at the gable end. The other wing steps down and ends in a short hipped eave. The exterior color palette of cream and brown blends into the wooded setting enhanced by the landscaping. The curved entry terrace that is an extension of the front porch is surrounded by a short hedge that links the two wings. The sloped site creates a lower level and the rear elevation opens up to the water views with a variety of windows.  There are two spacious sunrooms stacked above each other with windows on three sides. One side of the lower floor sunroom is a greenhouse that spans the full width of the space. Two other bay windows and French doors bring light and views into the spaces.

The “hinge” for the two wings of the “L” is the kitchen and breakfast room. One side of the “L” contains the living room at the gable end with a wide bay window, wood-burning fireplace and millwork for books and a master suite.  Comfortable neutral upholstered pieces are anchored by a patterned rug for relaxing by the fire. A wide doorway leads to the large sunroom with room for sitting and dining areas overlooking the water views through the trees. The other side of the “L” contains another master suite, dining room and garage.

I loved the dining room’s caramel colored walls above the crisp white wainscot in between wide and long windows for views to the landscape. The warm wood table and chairs are anchored by an Oriental rug and the vista through the wide doorway to the hall gallery. The “U” shaped kitchen has generous counter space and upper cabinets to the ceiling for generous storage. The wall of cabinets opposite the “U” is a dream for anyone who likes to entertain- glass fronted upper cabinets to display crystal, bar sink, wine fridge and a pantry. Double windows over the kitchen sink and views from the cooktop through the breakfast room to the rear bay window give the cook great views.  

My favorite room was the breakfast area that is a warm and cozy space for any informal meal. The wide bay window with its seat below, stained wood table and chairs, crisp white wainscot and trim outlined the rose red walls Above the window headers was a shelf that wrapped around the room and displayed the Owners’ beautiful collection of blue and white ceramics.

There are two master suites and three other bedrooms. I especially liked the main floor master suite with its skylight  and a wide bay window. One of the lower level bedrooms had a wide triple window for water views, a patterned valance, white bed linens and an antique armoire for a serene look. Another lower level bedroom had light blue walls, white wood slat ceilings, wood antique bed frame and washstand with a shelf above the mirror to display part of the Owner’s ceramic collection.

Great setting, floor plan with easy flow, beautiful interiors and two floors for flexible living-it is no surprise that this house is under contract!

 

For more information about this property, contact Susan Sams with Doug Ashley Realtors at 410-810-0010 (o), 410-725-2768 (c) or susansams7@gmail.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”. The Sellers invite inquiries via email,  acmadar@aol.com, about their fine wood antique pieces that are for sale

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.

 

Spy House of the Week: Bayview Beauty

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The exterior and interior of this house was completely renovated including the infrastructure and has been transformed with great style. The focal point of the front elevation is dominated by a wide two-story gable with a hipped roof below that covers a spacious front porch. The rear elevation facing the water has multiple types of windows for breathtaking Bay views-large picture windows with side units to create shallow bay windows, clerestory windows, windows with transoms and French doors. Dark gray roofing, light gray siding, white trim and wide bay windows give the house distinctive character.

The front French door with full height sidelights opens to a spacious entry hall with a “U” shaped stair that leads to the second floor. Beyond the entry is the large great room with a stone fireplace in the center that divides the space into two sitting areas. Each sitting area has a wide bay window and a French door in between the bay windows leads to a flagstone path that meanders down to the deck at the water’s edge.

The sitting area with the fireplace is a dramatic two-story space with exposed stained collar beams and a bridge above connecting the bedroom suites on the second floor. The underside of the bridge, the railing, the window trim and the wood flooring are stained wood as accents against the white walls. At the rear, a row of clerestory windows above the wide bay window enlivens the space with light.

Beyond the great room the rear wall projects out in a box bay wing to create a dining area and another sitting area. Tall windows with transoms wrap around the corner of the house for panoramic Bay views. Behind these spaces is the kitchen that is open to the dining area and to the Bay views beyond. There are two master suites, one on each floor, each with its own amenities. The main floor suite has a private brick floored screened porch and the second floor master has a private deck for watching sunsets with perhaps a cappuccino from the nearby coffee bar?

The second floor contains my two favorite rooms, the office/library and the corner guest room. The library/office is open to the bridge and has floor to ceiling walls of books surrounding the wide bay window with a seat cushion and pillows at each end for reclining with a good book and a stuffed bear for company. I could easily envision setting up my laptop on the writing table anchored by the patterned rug and getting to work since the chair is strategically placed with its back to the water. My other favorite room is the corner guest suite with its triple windows and transoms that wrap around the corner of the room. Spiral stairs lead to a loft for extra sleeping space. The wood table a-deaux, the chaise lounge at the corner below the windows, and the bed linens in neutral colors create a serene space for guests who would be tempted to extend their stay.

The grounds include a fenced pool, vegetable garden and a large building that is currently used as an artist’s studio. No doubt the artist draws inspiration from the peaceful surroundings and the ever-changing Bay.

 

For more information about this property, please contact Richard Keaveney at Cross Street Realtors, 410-778-3779 (o), 410-708-6470 (c), or rdkeaveney@gmail.com, “An 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.

Spy House of the Week: On the Beach

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Now that I have turned off my heat, I am finally enjoying my screened porch for the first time since last fall and daydreaming about a day trip to a beach. The next best thing is to pretend my office chair is a deck chair on the beach at this property with its “coastal style” design. The house is nicknamed “Three Bridges” because you can see the Kent Island Bridge, the Bay Bridge and Baltimore’s Key Bridge simultaneously from the house’s sweeping views of the Bay.

The lower floor contains the garage, stairs to the second floor and the rest of the covered space offers a break from being out in the sun while being cooled by the Bay breezes. The second floor has a wrap-around all-seasons sunroom the full length of the house with a continuous wall of tall and wide windows for a bird’s eye view of seemingly endless water. The dining area at the corner of the wrap-around sunroom with the 180 degree views would make it easy to linger over dinner as the sun sets. The spacious gourmet kitchen and family room is connected to the sunroom by two pairs of French doors to create a large space for entertaining family and friends. An offset short hall leads to the master suite and a guest suite at the front of the house.

The story and a half design of livable space creates my favorite area-the third floor suite with its three gables and double windows in each gable. The sloped ceiling follows the underside of the roof joists and the intersection of the rear gable and the side gables creates an articulated ceiling plane. I especially like how the sloped portions of the walls are painted an accent color of sage green in contrast to the short knee wall and ceiling planes of white. The gable facing the water has a double window and a U” shaped window seat for a cozy seat for stargazing.

Coastal design, endless water views-heaven on the beach!

For more information about this property contact Lynn Hilfiker with Gunther McClary Real Estate at 410-639-2118 (o), 443-480-1163 (c) or lynnhilfiker@gmail.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.

Habitat: Spring Fever at Unity

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Unity Nursery is the destination for all things relating to landscape and gardens. The countdown to the Spring Equinox is over and the Nursery kicked off its spring season with their annual open house on March 23rd. The eye-catching giant “Big Rooster” near the entrance drive was soon a popular spot for selfies. As attendees strolled through the site, they discovered several new changes. Retail sales is now back at the Roadside Kiosk where a display of seed packets will soon be joined by items from the Nursery and fresh produce, vegetable and herb plants grown on site under the watchful eye of Farm Manager Teresa Mycek.

The area between the Kiosk and highway 213 will soon be enhanced by gardens to inspire the home gardening enthusiast. Benches will be strategically placed for rest or contemplation of sculpture and other garden art. On the other side of the Kiosk and beyond the bridge over the spring below is now a row of stacked planters and urns of many sizes and styles that are separated in groups of color for ease of selection.

The five greenhouses are ready for this year and in one greenhouse, seedlings were poking through their containers in anticipation of being planted in the ground. Brussel Sprouts were still sprouting and the garlic continue to grow. One of the previous owners of the property was a landscape architect and he planted many specimen trees that are now mature. Overlooking the vegetable garden is one of these trees, the “Ben Franklinia” tree, which is thought to extinct in the wild.

The main building is now dedicated to services relating to Unity Nursery’s sister business, Unity Landscape Design/Build. The showroom features work of local artisans, outdoor furniture and art. Around the walls are displays that illustrate products such as low voltage lighting, irrigation and hardscape products along with photographs of completed landscape projects. The day I visited, I was immediately captivated by a stunning handcrafted dining table by artisan Vicco von Voss. The table’s free form and mix of black walnut, maple burl, ebony and holly was hard to miss. Unity is also the exclusive representative of a line of teak furnishings by Three Birds Casual. Pieces on display include a rocking chair, side table, dining table and chairs whose stylish design would complement any screened porch or pool terrace. I liked the slightly flared top of the chair back that would make it quite comfortable for reading by the pool or dining al-fresco.

The education and credentials of the Unity team is quite impressive. Unity Landscape Design/Build’s president, Michael Jensen, attended the College at West Chester University for Architecture/Urban Planning where he grew to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between architecture, landscape and the environment. He transferred to the landscape architecture/horticulture program at Temple University in Philadelphia and returned to the Eastern Shore to found Unity Landscape Design/Build in 1992. He fulfilled a need for landscape design, installation and maintenance services to help homeowners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed fulfill their design goals and comply with Critical Areas restrictions to protect the Chesapeake Bay water quality.

The Unity Design/Build team’s Field Operations Manager, Cliff Westman and Environmental Designer, Lucas Lees, recently completed the Certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) workshop and received their certifications. This is a voluntary credential program for professionals who design, install and maintain sustainable landscapes.

Sustainability is key to the mission of Unity which is to serve as an “inspiration center offering services and on native plants and natural solutions”. Design is guided by principles of geometry from ancient Greece such as the Golden Ratio, which is a mathematical ratio commonly found in nature. The Greeks believed that the use of the Golden Ratio created beauty defined by symmetry, proportion and harmony. The result is organic, natural looking and aesthetic compositions.

To make your landscape harmonious, visit Unity Nursery to become inspired by the range of high quality plants, perennials, shrubbery, trees, native and seasonal plants of all sizes that would enhance your home and its outdoor environment. Unity Design/Build’s staff can work with you to create a plan that meets your budget. Then they obtain the permits, install the landscape and hardscape and provide maintenance.

Upcoming events include the popular “Beyond the Backyard” Series of Workshops every Saturday in April beginning at 9:00 am to inform and inspire participants to “think beyond the backyard”. Check their website for workshop topics.

Unity Church Hill Nursery is located at 3621 Church Hill Rd. For more information, call 410-556-6010 or visit their website www.unitychurchillnursery.com. The Nursery is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00, Saturday from 8:00 to 4:00 and is closed on Sunday.

 

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