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Centreville Guesthouse gets Promoted to Main House

Sep 20, 2012 12:20PM ● By Anonymous

And that's just what they did.

Nancy called on son Richard Hammond, of Richard Hammond Builders, and architect Bob Hammond, Nancy's first husband, to help design plans for the expansion and renovation of the 2,500- square-foot cottage overlooking Grove Creek off the Chester River.

"[Bob] had designed the original house years before," says Richard. "They get along well, so he was the natural choice to design the addition and remodel."

As for the building process itself, Nancy knew just who to call.

"Richard is the son of an architect, so he knows building very, very well, and we've never had a drop of trouble," says Nancy. "He's an expert."

Nancy, Robert, and Richard, took the original plans from the guesthouse and doubled it—ultimately building the footprint of a second guesthouse next door, connecting the two, and revamping the interior layout for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom space with a loft.

Nancy wanted the charm of an older house from the outside, with modern touches inside, like expansive windows, and bedrooms on the first floor.

"There were several major requirements," recalls Richard. "One, a large studio filled with light, and two, a one-level living area on the first floor."

"And I wanted a roof that looked curved," Nancy says, "like I've seen of a lot of buildings on old Maryland some of the old tobacco barns."

The look was ultimately achieved, but the design evolved over the course of construction.

"My mother, her husband, Robert, his son, and I all collaborated together for the final design while the project was under way," recalls Richard. "We added and changed many aspects along the way, like adding the row of skylights in the living room to provide more light, a second-floor balcony that was cut into the roof, the built-in in Robert's bedroom, and many other smaller ones. It really was a team design effort led by my mother."

From start to finish, the addition and renovation took seven months.

From the outside, the home looks older and quaint. Its exterior is stained a dark brown color with big, square shutters that are the combination of two Benjamin Moore colors. The front door is a carefully selected pitch blue from Farrow and Ball.

"The combination of the three colors, I'm just crazy about," says Nancy. As an artist, Nancy put a lot of time and energy into perfecting the color choices.

"I had Louise Christoffers from Higgins and Spencer in St. Michaels help me put together the [interior] wall colors," says Nancy. Christoffers advised Nancy on the importance of accent coloring— for example, they painted one wall of a hallway leading from the dining room to the master bedroom dark brown, and the opposing wall a light yellow. A row of framed paintings are striking against the brown wall. Similarly, the rooms in the home each feature a boldly painted accent wall with an array of artwork, both by Nancy as well as other artists. "I particularly love having one wall with an accent color and the leaving the rest of the room," says Nancy. "It works just beautifully because some of these colors work so well behind these paintings."

Maybe the only thing that rivals color to an artist is lighting, and in Nancy Hammond's house both are meticulous.

But ask Nancy what her favorite space in the house is and she won't hesitate. Her studio (above), enveloped by windows, and featuring a walk-out terrace, is just down the hall and up the stairs from the dining room. "When I come up here it's like walking into heaven. I've got light coming in three sides, just pouring into the room. There's a beautiful lemon tree that I use to get me in the tropical mood...The room is full of color, full of paper, everywhere. I really get into trouble when I don't clean up after the last project, but then sometimes the overlapping helps. I'll be working away on something and then a purple scrap from another project will poke out, and I'll say 'Oh! Just what I need!' You've got to be able to leave your projects and not clean up afterward." It's important to Nancy, in fact, that part of her studio squares off a space where she can literally throw paint around, and leave it. "It's so much easier than lugging a giant, wet piece of paper around," she says. The windows to the studio are among the first things you see from the driveway. "I love the fact that when you're driving up to the house you know an artist must live here," she says. "It makes a little statement of its own."

The studio floors are painted white, with exposed beams overhead. Glass doors lead out to a balcony with a slightly wooded view of the water—the trees of which are slowly working their way into her work. The deck features a custom, intricate railing. "Richard and I came up with this railing that's very symmetrical, very geometric—it reminds me a little of Charles Rennie Mackintosh— and it gives the house a unique look, a nice flavor."

"The balcony was something that was not in the original design," Richard recalls. "We had already started framing the second floor when we looked at it and saw that there was a lot of space beyond the exterior second-floor wall that could be utilized. I had used a company on a previous project that installs a system that waterproofs decks over living spaces called Dex-o-Tex. It was the perfect system to use here. So we decided to incorporate a deck to accomplish a couple of goals of getting more light into the room, adding larger windows to that side for the water view, and having a space where she could create her art outside on the same level. The railing was a design I came up with and built out of mahogany, so it would last out in the elements. We milled all the lumber in my shop and assembled it on site. I think it has been an attractive and functional addition to the original design."

The detailed woodwork continues inside, where a railing lines the staircase from the studio to the main floor. One of Nancy's favorite details, it's one of Richard's signature pieces.

"The railing to the studio is rather a simple clean design that I made in my shop. [Nancy] loves birdseye maple so I used that as its center and looked for a darker wood with a nice grain to complement it. I choose curly cherry to be the top and bottom of the rail and the birdseye maple as the center. I also used the curly cherry as the cap to the half wall on the second floor and going down the stair. I like simple clean lines so I just left it as a rectangle so the beauty in the wood would be apparent. I milled the wood from rough stock, glued it together, and rounded the edges. It was a very simple process that turned out well."

In the front yard, there are three large planters Nancy uses to grow produce, including vegetables and herbs. Beyond those, the land seems to go on forever, providing an encompassing feeling of privacy and peace.

The location of the home is important to Nancy and her husband, and full of history. Situated on Grove Creek near the Russian Embassy's dacha, the home, like all the other homes on the lane, was built by a wealthy man in Centreville in the early 1900s for his employees. In fact, the main house on the property, once belonged to the chauffer, and the guest house, now Nancy's home, was built much later.

"There's so much history here," says Nancy, explaining that the nearby waterways were the ones George Washington traveled from Annapolis to Chestertown. "The landmarks are still the same, it's really interesting."

Nancy's much-loved (and much used) studio. The perfect artist's retreat.