Life at Sweetwater
Photography by Anne Gummerson
A story of friendship brings a couple to the Eastern Shore
Sweetwater is fresh, not brackish water and to Terry and Eileen Hebert, it’s a fitting name for their fresh space – the semi retired couple’s custom home that is nothing short of paradise. Theirs is a home across from a deeded nature conservancy; a home where business and pleasure converge; and a home far from Cleveland where they last lived in a Victorian, worlds apart from this waterfront contemporary.
With a Little Help from Friends
For the Heberts, it’s “a story of friendships,” friendships that were formed in the 1970s when Terry’s work as an executive in the newspaper industry brought him to the Annapolis area. Eileen, a registered nurse, took aerobics classes and met Liz Hammond and Barbara Watkins. The friends remained close over the years, often visiting and planning trips together.
Then about seven years ago, Watkins, a realtor with Benson & Mangold Chesapeake Estates & Farms, showed the Heberts acreage along Bolingbroke Creek in Trappe, MD, minutes from Easton. The first bid on land up the creek was unsuccessful, but the second offer on five acres across from the conservancy was accepted. Since they had five years by Talbot County’s regulations to start construction, the couple had time to think about what they really wanted as far as home style.
Start with a Clock
What you think you might like as far as home design is often totally different from what you end up with, says Eileen, who first thought about a French Country design. A Cleveland shopping trip with Liz Hammond and her husband, Bob, an architect in the Annapolis area for 30 years, was the beginning of the Heberts’ transitional thinking when Terry bought Eileen a very contemporary clock. “Can you design a home around this clock?” Eileen asked Bob. Not quite, but being open to a total change from late 1800s Victorian styling to clean contemporary lines produced a home that works for the Heberts and their active lifestyles.
“The Heberts wanted a small retirement home, sensible,” says Bob, principal of Hammond Wilson Architects, adding that this home is about 3,500 square feet. After initial meetings, walking the waterfront property and assessing the treed setting, the team moved away from what Terry and Eileen were leaning towards at that time, which was more of a Florida-style courtyard home with a pool and pergola in the center of the front’s u-shape. Getting as close to the water as possible was critical while still giving the Heberts essential elements, such as a studio and gourmet cooking spaces. “She got a pottery studio; he got a six-burner Dacor oven,” Bob says.
Eileen and Terry didn’t want to see the garage so it was designed as a separate building connected by a breezeway to the main living space. The owners’ bedroom was built on the other side of the core living spaces and is symmetrical to the garage. The pristine, private home and setting are a dream, “a well constructed dream,” says Eileen. But before construction could begin, Bob suggested they meet with Gary Smith, president of Gary Smith Builders Inc. It was a stretch for him to travel from Queenstown, MD, because of distance. But “the people, meshing the design with the people” made the trip worthwhile, says Smith, who worked with Dan Carr, project manager, on this home. “Bob takes a design and incorporates it with the people.”
Back to Nature
As friends and family approach the driveway and enter the home, they are often surprised by the magnificent water views, Terry says. The vistas along the back of the creek and the front of the landscaped property establish Sweetwater as a true inside/outside home.
Part of this credit goes to Andy Hobson, president of F.A. Hobson Landscaping and Nursery Inc. He transformed the entry path by building up the land, adding rock that is not indigenous to this area, and planting an abundance of colorful flora to pop against an exterior of sage trim and rich cedar siding. A low maintenance, natural garden with an Asian flair and spots for Eileen’s artsy elements is what the Heberts wanted, Hobson recalls. Ornamental cares grass, hellebores and blue-eyed grass present a display of soft textures and colors lining the walkway.
Inside, the Heberts kept only a few of Eileen’s auction and flea market finds, including a pair of Victorian chairs purchased for $75 and then re-covered. They fit snuggly along the front wall with views of the driveway and vibrant landscaping. How hard was it to part with treasures collected over the years that packed their Cleveland Victorian from top to bottom? “Not hard at all,” says Eileen. “I was so interested in cleaning up.”
Colors that make a statement play a major role in the interior design. With the help of another friend, Patty Flauto from Cleveland, the Heberts went with shades of orange and yellow in the central rooms and aquas in the owners’ bedroom and powder room. Gold paint provides a restful backdrop for a starving artist’s interpretation of Paul McCartney’s glossy insert included in the Beatles’ 1960s White Album.
Terry and Eileen shopped local furniture and accessories stores to furnish their new contemporary spaces. They found an Asian-influenced sofa table, a pair of lanterns and a trio of candlesticks at Tidedancers in St. Michaels. Eileen warms the space with more Asian accents including a red chest and smaller trinket boxes.
Three paintings from the local Oxford art show decorate the space above the black marble propane fireplace. To the side is an entertainment center designed by Bob and built by Smith in birch to match the beautiful built-ins used to display Eileen’s handmade pieces in the open living area.
The dining room table from Annapolis Imports stretches between the living room and kitchen and can seat up to 10. The adjoining kitchen is ideal, especially for Terry, who likes to cook. With a Dacor oven, custom maple cabinets by Paula Marianek of Somrak Kitchens in Cleveland, island lights from Oggi Lighting in New York and lumbar-friendly stools found at the New York Chair Company, the Heberts entertain in comfort and style.
Expanding their original plans for the upper level gives them suites for children, grandchildren and guests, plus a family room and a computer station.
Paddle and Paint
Everyone said Terry would be bored, Eileen says, but that only lasted a couple of months until he started his kayaking business, ‘Peake Paddle Tours, www.paddletours.com. His business partner Laura Murray, who has lived in the Chesapeake Bay area since the 1970s, is a professor of marine science currently involved in research and restoration of the Bay. Murray brings knowledge of the Bay area to the kayak trips, while Terry offers his leadership skills to the team-building exercises offered by ‘Peake Paddle Tours.
Living on Bolingbroke Creek not only affords Terry the opportunity to enjoy and grow his business, but it also gives Eileen a great getaway spot in her downstairs studio to soothe her mind and create her ceramics. Starting six years ago in Cleveland, Eileen now crafts about five times a week using her two kilns, wheels and press to create textured pottery that leans towards sculpture. Easton is a mecca for artists, such as Eileen, who has studied under the internationally juried ceramic artist Maureen Burns-Bowie. The Heberts lived near Burns-Bowie during their recent stay in Brooklyn Heights, NY, and are now neighbors with her in Trappe, where the artist concurrently resides.
The Good Life
Bob, who always knew he wanted to be an architect, grew up on Long Island and continues to appreciate life along the shore and his work designing homes at Hammond Wilson Architects with partner Leo Wilson. After home plans are prepared, Bob stays involved with his projects almost daily to help coordinate the building process.
Now that the home is complete, Bob and Liz are still frequent guests at the Heberts. Maybe one day Terry will get Bob in a kayak, but for now he enjoys the coffee that the Heberts roast and the scenery from the mahogany deck.
Life at Sweetwater is good, very good.
- Bailey Marine Construction Inc. – 410.822.2205
- F.A. Hobson Landscaping and Nursery Inc. – 800.675.9614 – fahobsonlandscaping.com
- Gary Smith Builders Inc. – 410.827.7901
- Hammond Wilson Architects – 410.267.6041 – hammondwilson.com