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What's Up Magazine

Old World Inspiration

Mar 06, 2012 06:23PM ● By Anonymous

Lars and Gay Henriksen’s waterfront house commands attention in the heart of one of Annapolis’ most sought-after neighborhoods, not because of its size (which is deceiving from the street), but because of its asymmetrical design and interesting mix of stone, wood, and cedar shake. The homeowners envisioned an English Cotswold country manor home in the Murray Hill neighborhood.

“We lived downtown for 14 years and when moving from our 1920 four square home, we wanted to stay true with what would make sense regarding our building materials,” says Gay Henriksen, who is an interior designer. “It was important for us to build the house in the way it would have been built decades earlier, using cedar shake roofing, stone, and cedar shake siding with wood trim.”

The house was inspired by the Old-World style of architecture of Jack Arnold. The windows and doors, imported from Denmark, are solid mahogany. The Henriksens acted as general contractors, while Dirks Construction finished the frame and structure and KT Builders completed the finish carpentry.

The entire house was designed around a great oak tree, which stands tall in the backyard. The Henriksens took great measures to preserve the tree. The lighting at night was designed so they can enjoy the canopy of the great oak while relaxing by the pool or on the side loggia.


The open and airy family room flows into the kitchen area and provides a place for guests or family to converse while the Henriksens cook.

While the exterior of the home is awe-inspiring, the interior is just as incredible. The home was designed on a lot sloped to the water. To minimize steps on the first floor, the Henriksens built a retaining wall and set the grade five feet lower. The first-floor ceiling height is at 10 feet and then the great room, loggia, and lawn are designed to gently step down to the water. From the main level there are two steps down to the great room (with a ceiling height of almost 12 feet) and then one step down to the loggia. Off the loggia, with a ceiling height of 12 feet two inches, there are four steps down to a gently sloping lawn. The house is also set up to emphasize art, various niches placed throughout the home. For example, at one end of the first level corridor, there is an art niche that showcases a portrait of the Henriksens’ daughter.

Once inside the massive front doors, a spacious foyer greets guests. A grand chandelier is suspended above a custom table, and the walls covered are with an Asian-inspired, hand-painted mural. The front office was placed immediately to the left when you enter the front foyer, as is in a traditional manor house design. The foyer and grand staircase are paved in brick for durability and to duplicate what Henriksen had seen in European villas. The entry was also designed to set the scale of all other rooms in the house.


Gorgeous architectural features such as the paneled wall, layered crown molding and arched mahogany windows are common throughout the home.

In accordance with the style of an English country home, even the air-take vents are hidden from view. The moldings throughout are designed to hide the air-take vents and the lighting is flangeless, so there is nothing on the ceilings except for the required sprinkler system. The entire house is heated by a geothermal heating system and is also wired and ready for LED lighting.

At the rear of the home is the Henriksens’ expansive kitchen and family room area. While they use it daily, the main kitchen acts as a gathering place when the Henriksens entertain, as there is also a secondary work (or butler’s) kitchen. This way, the main kitchen stays tidy while caterers are busy preparing food in the butler’s kitchen. The layout is perfect for entertaining as the swing doors open not only to the main kitchen and nearby dining room, but also to the sizeable front foyer.

The kitchen’s marble floors were fashioned from a very expensive mosaic motif. The design was on a much smaller scale and Henriksen enlarged it and had the tile company cut the pieces to form the pattern.

“I have a lot of open floor space so I needed to create something with movement on a large scale,” she says. From the commanding foyer, to the open and airy loggia, this home is filled with interesting details, incredible finds, and luxurious, yet practical décor.


An arched opening at the end of the corridor frames the French doors leading out to the stone patio, directly off of the kitchen. The waterfall, which provides a soothing sound, spills into a small plunge pool.

Renee Houston Zemanski thanks Gay and Lars Henriksen for opening up their lovely home for her to tour.