The design goal for the two artists who designed and built this house was not only to express their creativity but also to be good neighbors by fitting into the neighborhood streetscape. They incorporated many elements of rural vernacular architecture that appealed to them- a full front porch deep enough to accommodate a group of family or friends, board and batten siding, metal roofs and simple geometric forms including gables. Site restraints dictated that all utilities must be five feet off the existing grade which led to a design solution with the garage on the ground level and the living spaces on the upper floors, but with a very clever twist.
The house is set perpendicular to the street with a full front porch across the gable front wall. The front elevation is articulated by the single slope red metal roof over the porch, gray board and batten siding for the ground and main floor with white banding at the transition to horizontal lap siding in an accent color at the uppermost floor. The delightful large circular window below the craftsman eave detailing portends the hint of other craftsman details within. To break up the long side elevation, a slight box-bay projection for the living room’s fireplace overlaps another projection over the red metal shed roof over three-car garage doors.
Wide steps lead up to the front porch that is only four feet above grade and the front door is located at the side to maximize the porch seating area. Fixed shutters are the backdrop for a pair of red rocking chairs overlooking the lush verdant landscape. It is only when you open the front door that you realize the fixed shutters are a clever trompe l’oeil by the artists to disguise non-existent windows and flight of steps lead up to the main living floor. At the front of this main level is a guest suite with three high windows at the front of the house and a side wall of built-ins separated by a long window with a built-in seat below. The open plan living-dining-kitchen area at the rear has a side fireplace flanked with built-ins with high windows and French doors lead to a glassed porch/dining space overlooking the landscape with views of Swan Creek and wildlife in the marsh.
The “L” shaped kitchen is detailed with cream cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The artists specified base cabinets with either full height doors (with no drawer) or a full height bank of varying height drawers. The top quarter of the 42” high upper cabinets are detailed with open display-lighted glass top panels. The angled freestanding wood table is an informal dining area and the mirrored wall of the built-in below the stairs offers another illusion of perspective.
The upper floor has charming interior architecture with sloped ceilings and four ventilating skylights with window seats below that allow the light to penetrate further into the spaces. The focal point of the front bedroom is the massive circular window and the rear master bedroom accesses a roof deck over the glass porch below. I especially liked the master bath wall with its free form pebble tub surround. Between the two en-suite bedrooms is a sitting/office area.
Wonderful and inspired design solution, great outdoor rooms of the front terrace surrounded by gardens and upper floor roof deck, open plan gathering spaces, private en-suite bedrooms and a basement with a workshop and a three car garage. All this in in the heart of Rock Hall-bravo to the artist owners for their very clever vision!
For more information about this property, contact Cindy Gerther with Rock Hall Properties Real Estate at 410-639-4003 (o), 443-480-1953 (c) or firstname.lastname@example.org. . For more photographs and pricing, visit www.rockhallproperties.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.