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What's Up Magazine

Handsome Enhancements

Jan 12, 2011 05:38PM ● By Anonymous

However, Bob and his wife Elizabeth bought their three-and-a-half acre property in 2003 precisely because the outbuildings flanking the simple colonial reminded them of a Georgian plantation. All three were utilitarian, uncomplicated buildings, with small square windows exuding a Jane Eyre-like no-nonsense sensibility. The Hammonds wanted all the buildings to become fresher and more whimsical yet still retain the feel of a tidewater homestead. “This is distinguished by a main mass and dependent buildings, harmonizing with each other and the land,” he says.

They began with the guesthouse, which Bob tore down and rebuilt within the same footprint. With casement windows that open out to the fresh air, steeply pitched roof, small scale, and cross gables, it has the look of a country storybook cottage, at least on the outside. “It was a small building so we wanted to explode it on the inside,” says Hammond. “We were envisioning light, open interiors.” There are plenty of these. Cable lights span high, sloped ceilings and oak plank floors.

A sweeping loft is accessed by a ship’s ladder. Inverted triangular walls, created naturally inside by the steep exterior gables outside, form unexpected angles. On the floor is another nautical feature—a boat hatch that leads to the basement. Inside, the furnishings and amenities are minimal yet thoughtful—there is everything you need. As in a traditional cottage, small spaces are used wisely, and function drives form. For instance, an Amish rocking chair back becomes a focal point. A couch doubles as a daybed and is positioned in front of a stone fireplace. Other features are uncomplicated. “We used chair rail and painted wallboards to give the look of a paneled wainscot," he says. The kitchen is equipped with country-style open shelving supported by brackets, instead of wall cabinets. A dishwasher is built into a cabinet below the counter. French doors open to an intimate terrace bordered by a lowmaintenance potagerie. In front, ferns recall the woodland just beyond and add a touch of the wild to this tidy home filled with "just enough" for a guest or two to visit or hide out for a weekend.

Once the cottage was restored, the Hammonds turned to their boathouse. Though it was a disaster zone, they were grateful for every inch. “This was grandfathered onto the property. Today, you can't build a boat house if you don't have one,” says Hammond. He and his son rebuilt the boathouse adding a roof with an oldfashioned double pitch.

“This is the same kind of whimsical form as the cottage,” he notes. He explains how, like the cottage, the roof is pitched steeply. “I kept the square windows, which were folksy, traditional, and rural.” He built shelving under the roof to store the family’s kayaks, fishing rods, oyster cans, and live boxes. If you want to relax or retain a low profile, you can lounge on the park bench, shaded by the eves and bordered by posts; no one will see you, except perhaps the deer and eagles.


A Better Bungalow

The two-story vinyl bungalow near the Rowe Boulevard bridge, just a stone’s throw from the Severn River, captivated the imagination of an Annapolis couple, even though it was just 800 square feet and poorly constructed—its previous owner had added a second story to the house, without, it seemed, a set of plans.

The local architect they chose to help them undo the prior damage and to expand their home, puts it this way: “I had to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” And, this “sow's ear” had other problems: due to set-back laws prohibiting building within 100 feet of the water, its Weems Creek-facing facade could not be expanded. And, a steep slope bordered its other side, which made building more labor-intensive and complicated. After obtaining a variance, though, he worked with a local builder who carved ten feet out of the slope and constructed a two-car garage with living space above. The couple also wanted a more attractive interior. The original front room overlooking the water had a roof supported by two steel rods and exposed two-by-fours “gang-nailed” together or joined with unsightly metal plates. The architect dispensed with these immediately and designed new trusses. These are crafted from fir and engineered to support the roof, eliminating the need for steel rods.

To continue to distinguish the space architecturally, he replaced sliding glass doors with a partial window wall and added an arching window above that spans both stories. The builder and wood workers on the job point out that what makes the room successful is a detail easy to miss—the bottom of the arched window is level with the ceiling’s lowest truss. This subtle symmetry and precision add a sense of calmness to the room, perhaps because the exposed rafters evoke a kind of strength and formal integrity absent in its former life. Finishing touches to the home include new siding, a new roof, a remodeled kitchen, and new windows throughout, as well as the addition of a mudroom. The sow’s ear has not become a purse, exactly, but something much more valuable to the owners—a better bungalow.

A Tree House

If you want to try something untraditional, choose a designer who will take the time to understand you. One Maryland-based family wanted a space to entertain and another area where they could retreat to have private conversations. They worked with a Maryland-based design build pro who built an Indiana Jones-style catwalk that connects their home’s raised deck to a gazebo supported ingeniously by 6-foot-high stilts. Before arriving at a design, he interviews his clients, takes time to visit to check out sun and shade patterns and works to understand what a client really wants, whether traditional or unconventional. Now, after dinner, the couple and family wander across the swaying bridge and enter another space somewhat mysterious and even fugue-like in its focus. Here, in this lantern-lit room nested amongst the trees, their imaginations may roam with the fireflies.

With her spunky, active daughters out of school for the summer, Kymberly Taylor, home editor for What's Up?, would welcome her own private retreat.