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Chesapeake Home + Living - June/July 2011

Photography by Jennifer K. Dansicker, Photographs By Anne Gummerson

A point of land just outside of Annapolis offers the perfect family-friendly setting with water views from the front and back of the house.

For one Annapolis couple, a home with views of the Chesapeake Bay in a community with a close-knit neighborhood of residents was the result of a long 10-year search. Armed with years of magazine clippings and a clear vision of what they wanted, this family of five found the perfect location nestled in a private community on a point of land with waterfront views from every room in the home.

The original structure occupying that perfect location was more than 45 years old and the homeowners knew they would have to renovate and maximize the space of the lot. “The house was a 1970s split level that presented some real challenges,” says Leo Wilson, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Hammond Wilson Architects, P.C. in Annapolis. “The goal was to use as much of the house as we could, but the house did little to take advantage of the views and most of the rooms were too small. In the end, we decided to remove almost all of the interior walls on the first floor that weren’t structural and start over.” Materials removed from the existing house that could not be used were donated to The Loading Dock, a non-profit organization in Baltimore that redistributes the salvaged building products to schools and church groups.

This stunning 7,000-square-foot Annapolis home has picturesque views of the Chesapeake Bay from the front and looks over a quiet tributary in the back. The homeowners envisioned lots of windows in this waterfront retreat to capture majestic views of the water.

A main component of the homeowners’ vision included abundant windows to enjoy the views of the Chesapeake Bay in the front of the home and the creek in the back. “On the main floor, the challenge was to break up the long waterfront side of the house, so it didn’t seem monotonous. Three gable forms gave vertical elements to the long house,” says Wilson.

The main floor includes the family, game, dining, and sun rooms as well as the kitchen. During the planning stages, the homeowners expressed their desire to have more traditional spaces without an open floor plan. “We inherited the dining room table from my father-in-law, so Leo started the design of the entire home around this piece in our formal dining area,” says the wife.

Designer Catherine Belkov, senior director of residential design at Interior Concepts, Inc. in Annapolis says that very same table was one of the reasons the homeowners chose her for the project. “When we interviewed with them, they asked ‘could you see an antique hunt board placed in the dining room in front of the waterfront windows.’ And I felt it was a key question and had no problem with the handsome wood piece and said, ‘Why, yes, I think it would be beautiful,'” says Belkov.

The homeowners wanted a traditional, yet family-friendly home. The design team that included Belkov, Arlene Critzos, owner of Interior Concepts, as well as Linda Locke, associate design assistant, created a color palette with shades of rose and wine that is complemented by golds, creams, and vivid greens. “We tried to bring the outside in by borrowing from the natural colors the family could see in the views that surrounded their home,” says Belkov.

The kitchen is the center of the home and the place where family members spend most of their time. “The kitchen is spectacular because it has two large islands, a raised gas fireplace, a built-in dining banquet area, and is central to all the living areas on that floor,” says Belkov.

Local kitchen designer Brad Creer of Bradford Design, LLC in Bethesda, Maryland added his expertise to this project. “The homeowners wanted a warm and inviting room with multiple finishes. They also requested two raised dishwashers on both sides of a large sink, two islands, and liked the look of having wall cabinets of varying heights,” says Creer. “My husband and I are tall and felt it was a great design feature to raise the dishwashers, so we don’t have to bend over so far,” reveals the wife.

One of the other rooms on the first floor that underwent a dramatic transformation was the sunroom. “The sunroom started off as a screened-in porch, but over time the homeowners decided they wanted to use the space all year long, so radiant heat was added and the screens were replaced with insulated windows,” says Wilson. Belkov chose exterior flat stone as the floor, but painted the walls and ceiling in a rich green that reflected the natural elements in the room.

Separating the sunroom from the rest of the formal areas of the home is the game room. “The clients have a love of athletics and wanted a room to display memorabilia as well as extensive decoy and oyster can collections,” says Belkov. Featuring such key elements as a full-service wood bar along with a game table, banquette seating area, and an 8-foot pool table, the room is outfitted in sage green, burgundy red, and gold and also includes a fireplace, television, and built-in cabinetry.

The two-story foyer with detailed millwork up the stairs provides a spectacular segue from the main floor to the upper level, which consists of the four bedrooms, a study, and guest suite. For their daughter, the couple created a whimsical princess room with a crystal chandelier in the center of the room – a gift from her grandparents. The architect and the design team also created a special secret room with a child-size arched doorway that adds another element of fancy to the room and, more practically, provides a spot for storing toys.

The master bedroom is an oasis for the homeowners and a departure aesthetically from the rest of the home. “When I walk through the doors I feel like I am entering a retreat because of all the colors, the fireplace, and a chandelier from Italy that brings back fond memories of our family trip,” says the wife. The master bath is outfitted with a big jetted tub, separate vanities, heated tile floors, and a steam shower with a big bay window overlooking the creek.

The nautically-inspired study with warm tones and an attention to detail takes advantage of the great views of the creek. Belkovs says the chandelier in antique brass, the globe, and the homeowner’s America’s Cup model on the fireplace contribute artfully to the nautical theme of the room.


Kitchen designer Brad Creer used several different finishes starting with an offwhite to frame the room, deep green to anchor the center island, and a wood finish in the range hood, which created a focal point in the space.

Hammond Wilson Architects turned this screened-in porch into an elegant, yet inviting sunroom with insulated windows and radiant floor heat. Interior designer Catherine Belkov chose exterior flat stone as the floor but painted the walls and ceiling in a rich green that reflected the natural elements in the room. The homeowners have a love of athletics so they created this game room that also displays memorabilia as well as extensive decoy and oyster can collections. Key elements of the room include a full-service wood bar along with a game table, a banquette seating area, and an 8-foot pool table.

The downstairs is equipped with a home theater, a wine room, an exercise room, and a sauna. The husband is fond of a good cigar and a glass of wine, so they created a little grotto to accommodate. “A huge walnut tree was milled and used to make the timbers in the ceiling in the wine room,” says Wilson.

To create this warm and inviting space, Belkov used gas lanterns and antiqued brushed pine cabinetry in the wine cellar. Interior Concepts, Inc. also commissioned an original fresco painting by Italian artists to reproduce a photograph of a winery the homeowners recently visited in Italy.

Tasked to develop a seamless transition from this elegantly designed and functional home to the outdoors, McHale Landscape Design, Inc. in Annapolis was careful not to take anything away from the beauty of the house or the view. “Our objective was to complement the architecture of the house and include details in the hardscapes, pier, stairs, fences, and landscaping that are repeated in the architecture,” says Richard Sweeney, registered landscape architect.


This artfully designed wine cellar includes antiqued brushed pine cabinetry, an original fresco painting by Italian artists, stone walls, a yellow travertine cobblestone floor, and, of course, plenty of wine.

Located in the critical area of the Chesapeake Bay, landscaping is therefore guided by certain restrictions. “With the new house taking up a large portion of the lot, we had limited impervious surfaces to work with when designing patios, walks, and the driveway. We prioritized our impervious coverage towards the main use areas and were able to minimize the square footage without compromising the design intentions,” says Sweeney.

The natural topography of the site was also a challenge. The area near the water consisted of steep slopes with large decaying trees, invasive vines, a deteriorating bulkhead, and active erosion. “After we eradicated the vines from the steep slopes we planted the hillside with a combination of native shrubs, trees, perennials, and grasses that exceeded county mitigation requirements,” describes Sweeney.

Just 14 months after the renovation and new construction began, the homeowners set down roots in their Chesapeake Bay retreat. “We are thrilled with the final product and so happy to be in our home,” say the homeowners.

Jennifer K. Dansicker is the Special Projects Editor of Chesapeake Home + Living.

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