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What's Up Magazine

Provincial in Lothian

Feb 01, 2018 09:00AM ● By James Houck
Photography courtesy The Drawing Board, Inc.

Truth be told, Anne Arundel County has much more in common with its Eastern Shore brethren counties than most folks would assume; a 30-minute drive in most directions from the highly-developed Annapolis hub opens to wide- and wider-open spaces. Suburban communities, then farmland, horse pastures, tucked away peninsulas, untouched forests, and the comforts of rural living. For Gregg and Pennye Doud, a couple with Kansas and Maryland roots, rural living on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was found in Lothian, a pastoral swath of southern Anne Arundel County that’s just far enough removed from the big-city bustle to enjoy a retreat lifestyle. Yet, the couple can easily commute to the energy of Annapolis, Washington, D.C., or, even, those tucked away waterfront towns such as Galesville, Deale, or Chesapeake Beach. 

A horse family through and through, it was this hobby-turned-lifestyle that befit their desire to move to the greener pastures of Lothian. “Our family began to accumulate horses as a result of our involvement in the Annapolis Pony Club to the point where we needed to consider our own farm to board our horses,” Pennye explains. Thus began an aggressive search for a suitable property, which they eventually found by way of a friend of a friend. “Out of desperation we were chatting with our daughter’s horse trainer who offered to check with a friend who is a prominent land owner in southern Anne Arundel County,” Pennye says. “We spent an entire day with the landowner looking at properties, soils, slopes, and, in some cases, houses. The landowner saved the ‘best’ property for last with the warning that it ‘had a lot of potential but would need to be developed.’ The property consisted of a corn field surrounded by dense overgrown thicket with a seemingly endless supply of deer ticks and what can be described as ‘biblical’ poison ivy. Despite the enormity of a ‘greenfield’ project, we couldn’t get the property off our minds and decided to go all-in for the 24-month project that became known as Lyons Creek Manor and Stables.”

Situated on almost 35 acres, the property is essentially a small-scale farm with horses, chickens, a couple of pigs, and, of course, the family dogs. At its center, the traditional French country-inspired home represents everything the Doud family dreamed of during the design and building process, for which they employed the architecture services of Peter Miles of The Drawing Board, Inc. “We had been collecting ideas for quite some time, had recorded the dimensions that we needed for each room, and we truly needed an architect that would patiently listen and guide us through turning our hodgepodge of concepts into a set of plans,” Pennye says. “It was thrilling to see our European country manor concept quickly jump to life via Peter’s talent with today’s three-dimensional architectural software. He offered some great ideas, as well as making introductions to other key vendors and designers for the project.”

Miles felt similarly during the entire process, which he explains. “The Douds were very organized and detail-oriented clients. They brought along a lot of material to our initial meeting—pages from magazines with details highlighted, photos of other homes that they liked, and a well thought out program for their space. 
“We walked site with them, discussing their ideas for the location of the home, and which views they wanted to capture. We took extensive photographs of the site to use later in the design process. 
“Through many meetings over the course of several months, we first developed space diagrams to determine where the rooms should go, and their relationships, then we began to create 3D digital massing models. Through this process, the Douds were very involved, offering feedback, suggestions, and their thoughts on the direction of the project. The best clients are always those who offer thoughtful ideas, listen to feedback from us, make decisions quickly, and ask a lot of questions. The Douds did all of these and more.” 

The result is Gregg and Pennye’s dream and final project. “Lyons Creek Manor is the third house that we’ve built together, so we knew exactly what we wanted. With our children in high school and college, this is our final project/empty nest house, so the upstairs of the house has been designed to function independently of the rest of the house.” 

Attractive and unique features are many, the most prominent of which is the central turret. “Functionally and programmatically, the turret acts as a ‘hinge’ in the plan, separating the master suite from the living areas on the first floor, and providing access to the second-floor bedrooms,” Miles explains. “As the stairs wind up and around the turret, windows were placed on all sides to offer views out to the pasture and back into the woods.”

Other favorite elements include: panoramic views of the pastures from every room of the house; a master bathroom with a bump-out bay window space that evokes the turret form, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, in which a large slipper tub was placed, seemingly floating in the natural surroundings; a long, covered porch for entertaining and shading from the summer sun (“As we use 3D digital modeling in our design process, we were able to geo-locate the model and do sun studies to see the optimum orientation, porch depth, and height,” Miles says); a fireplace mantle was made from an old walnut tree that fell on Gregg’s Kansas family farm and was incorporated into the design of the fireplace; and at the edge of the kitchen, a partial stone wall alludes to a millhouse on a farm, with an exposed wooden beam ceiling (“Design elements that imply the house had been there a long time, like an old beloved farmhouse,” Miles suggests). 

As for their favorite space in and around the property, Gregg suggests the answer depends upon the season. “The kitchen and family room are hands-down our favorite parts of the house year ’round. The three-season room and the farm itself is our favorite place to be when the weather is nice. But when snow is on the ground, everyone’s favorite place, including the dogs, is in the family room next to the fireplace.”

Despite some of the challenges associated with building from scratch on a large, rural footprint (the largest hurdle of the project was obtaining the permission to combine two parcels of land), the Douds conclude the entire process was simply fun and beyond worthwhile to have a place all their own. “The privacy. The view. Living among nature,” Pennye and Gregg cite when describing what they love. “On any given morning or evening we’re visited by deer, foxes, and wild turkeys along the creek. We love that our menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, chickens, and guard pot belly pigs are literally right in our back yard. Yes, the guard pigs really do keep the foxes away from the chickens and we are fully aware that these are conversations that typically do not occur within 25 miles of our Nation’s Capital. Living at Lyons Creek Manor makes the commute back into ‘town’ worthwhile.”