Bay Watch On a spit of land overlooking Whitehall Bay, an Annapolis architect’s house stands guard.

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leather sofa from Restoration Hardware provides front-row seating for the home’s spectacular views. Behind the sofa is a painting from San Francisco artist Jeremy Mann.

The land itself lured them — 1.3 acres on Whitehall Bay, at the mouth of the Severn River, which came with what architect Marta Hansen describes as “a shack.” The house that replaced it had to have a similarly small footprint, and wetlands on the back of the property forced the new home to be constructed closer to the water.

The result: A four-story, 3,500-square-foot tower of a house with curved windows and long lines that looks like a beacon in the marsh.

“The whole house looks like a light house, I suppose,” Hansen says.

Indeed, when you do the math, the first three floors have only 1,000 square feet each and the fourth floor, “the man-loft” where Hansen’s husband keeps his guitars and exercise equipment, has only 500 square feet. Tall and narrow, but totally livable.

Outside, the verticality of the house is emphasized with a white board and batten siding. Inside, each floor is accessed by a stairwell tower decorated with stained glass art from a Baltimore auction and which Hansen thinks might have originally hung in a church.

The first floor of the home is “all public space,” Hansen says. A great room with a kitchen and dining space has a dividing book shelf created with niches for artwork. The room’s wall of windows does not form a straight line; it’s not a structural wall and Hansen likes that its meandering nature is a reminder that there is “just a thin layer between us and the view.”

Her home office and powder room are on this floor as well. The second floor holds a master suite and en suite guest room, and the third floor holds a family room and another guest room and bath.

Large windows light the house throughout, and from the fourth floor, Hansen and her husband can see the Bay Bridge.

The white oak floors have a Jacobean stain that the dark brown St. Laurent marble in the bathrooms match, so the look continues from room to room on each floor.

Unlike a true light house, Hansen’s house is more than a lantern; its design lets in light and its décor reflects the scene and history around it. The stair railing, for example, is welded steel curved to resemble the reeds found on the back of the property; JK & Son Decorative Iron Inc. in Preston crafted it.

“I love minimalism, but it can get too simple,” Hansen says. “What do you add back into the design? I find that interesting.”

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Unfinished book shelves from Saah Furniture in Alexandria, Va., were installed to divide the great room and painted black. An art niche in the shelves holds another Jeremy Mann painting.

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The unique canopy bed was purchased by Hansen’s husband before they were married and fits well with the metal and wood accents found throughout the house. The bent wood chair in the corner is one in a set of six antique Austrian cafe chairs designed by Thonet in the 1800s. Hansen herself painted the two pictures above the chair.

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Large St. Laurent marble tiles match the dark stained white oak floors throughout the house. The soaking tub has its own view, adding to the tranquility of the room. The painting opposite the sink is called “Toledo” and was created by Annapolis artist Channing Houston.

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The kitchen table was created from a slab of raw-edged bubinga wood. Hansen purchased the table from BOVA Furniture in Washington, D.C., sawed off the edges so it would fit into the space and then polished the table with a Danish oil finish.

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The house at sunset.

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The stairwell features two stained glass windows that Hansen purchased at a Baltimore auction and a bent steel railing welded to resemble the reeds found on the property’s wetlands. The lamp in front was crafted from an old barrel hoop that Hansen welded to a base plate, adding LED lights.

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In Hansen’s office, wooden models for machine parts adorn the wall behind the sofa. They were a gift from one of her clients. At her desk, another book shelf niche, one of the Austrian cafe chairs sits.

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