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A Maryland Farmhouse Re-Imagined

Dec 04, 2014 10:19AM ● By Cate Reynolds
On sprawling waterfront acreage in Pasadena, a 1930s-era farmhouse has been given new life

By Carol Sorgen // photography by Stephen Buchanan

Melissa and Hugh Hayes have yet to meet a home they didn’t think they could “make their own.”

“We were DIY-ers before it was popular,” Melissa says. “We’ve painted, spackled, put on decks, put up fences…we’ve done it all.” Yet when the couple decided to downsize from their sprawling Severna Park Colonial six and a half years ago, they decided they were “over” having projects to do.

Until, that is, they saw the 1930s-era Maryland farmhouse in the Lake Shore area of Pasadena. “We were drawn more to the property than the house,” Melissa confides. “We came around the corner, saw the water view, and made up our minds on the spot,” she says, chuckling as she adds, “I guess we had one more project in us after all” (insisting, though, that this is indeed the last one.)

The couple’s intention of downsizing also flew out the (many new) windows, as the house, now with five bedrooms and four and a half baths, is almost three times its original size and “creeping up” on the 7,000 square feet they left behind in Severna Park.

To take advantage of the property’s spectacular four-acre location overlooking the Magothy on the Cape Sable peninsula, one of the couple’s first projects was to add a porch, made of South American Ipe wood, running the length of the house, from which they can enjoy the waterfront views that extend as far as the Bay Bridge. Stone steps lead to the pier where the couple docks their 32’ Boston Whaler for quick jaunts to visit friends or dine at The Point Crab House. “We use the boat as if it were a taxi,” Melissa says.
Inside the house, the Hayeses, who worked with Annapolis architect Cathy Purple Cherry but served as their own general contractor, tried to preserve much of the home’s integrity as a Maryland farmhouse (neighbors have told the couple that the property was once a strawberry and asparagus farm). Structurally, they kept the main house as it was, with the exception of removing a wall in the kitchen/dining area and making a spacious great room with gourmet kitchen (“though neither one of us cooks!”). Otherwise, the living room, with its white brick fireplace and original arched wall niche, remains the same, just freshened with dark-stained oak floors, crisp white trim, and a neutral palette for both paint and fabric, giving off a vibe that is at the same time both stylish and modern yet comfortable and soothing.

“Our objective was to make the expansion look like it was on the same scale as that of the original house and the other buildings on the property,” Purple Cherry says. “We wanted the house to appear as though it had gracefully evolved over the years.” 

On one side of the main house are a mud room and two-car garage, the latter finished off with drywall and wainscoting and opening in both the front and back so that it can also be used as a party pavilion. On the other side of the original house, the couple added an expansive foyer that runs from the front to the back of the house and now serves as both entryway and music room, as well as a two-story master suite with interior staircase.

While the Hayeses have almost tripled the size of the home since they first purchased it, they are pleased at how seamless the additions appear. “From the outside,” Melissa says, “you can’t tell there have been any changes made at all.”

Inside too, the blending of old and new has been gracefully accomplished through the same neutral color palette and natural materials used throughout the house, and the mix of furnishings—from Hugh’s grandmother’s dining table, which was divided in two and now serves as night stands in the master suite to the contemporary foyer light fixtures purchased at Restoration Hardware.
“I like to re-use things as much as possible,” Melissa says, pointing to a vintage dressing table she picked up 20 years ago which has followed her from house to house and now resides in her dressing room/closet. “But sometimes,” she laughs, “you just need a Pottery Barn!” (A la the wide wall of draperies in the master bedroom; “We needed a lot of drapes!”)

While the self-confessed “hands-on” home renovators have pretty much done what they set out to do with the main house, the property also boasts a carriage house, guest house, and barn (not to mention what was most likely an outhouse), all of which the Hayeses can see as potential recipients of their DIY expertise. But those projects might just have to wait.

“For most of the last six years, there have been strange men in my yard,” Melissa laughs. “I think we may take a break for a while.” Still, looking around at what she and her husband have created, she says, “This is a lovely property.” And you can just see the wheels turning.