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In early 2007, when Shawn James and his partner bought their house in the Parkwood community of Eastport, it wasn’t because the place was perfect. In fact, James describes the 1940s home as “schizophrenic.”

“It was built in the ’40s, renovated in ’61 and another addition was added in 1983,” says James, a defense contractor. “Each of the additions had the flavor of the era, so it wasn’t very cohesive.” But James and his family wanted a home near the water, where they could dock their sailboat and enjoy easy access to downtown Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay. And this house, set on a large lot just spitting distance from a community dock on Back Creek, fit that bill perfectly.

So the couple hired Stephen Price, a building designer with Post & Beam Design/Build in Harford County, to transform the hodgepodge house into a stylish and comfortable family home with historical and nautical accents like those seen a few miles away in Colonial Annapolis.

The neighbors must have trouble believing the current house is the same one they lived next to for decades. Gone is the avocado-green grab bag of additions and rooflines and in its place is a charming yellow two-story home with traditional roof gables, a metal standing-seam roof and round metal gutters and downspouts. To simulate cedar shingles and siding, the home is covered in Hardie plank and shake, a man-made composite material that is low maintenance. Where there had been a red-brick chimney the home has a stone cultured chimney, and a bluestone path leads to a side entrance, where a stairway bordered by a cable railing deposits visitors into the home’s sunny living room.

When the James family bought the house, the living room boasted narrow, ultra-modern casement windows, which were “a dead giveaway that it was an addition,” says Price. The renovation called for regularizing the roof to create a traditional peak, adding larger windows and getting rid of a “catwalk” that had been placed high on the wall. Here again, Price relied on cultured stone to simulate a stacked stone fireplace. He also gave the owners built-in shelving along the shared wall with the kitchen, where they display nautical objects, books and mementos. American cherry floors create a traditional, rustic feel, and the furnishings are unfussy. “We wanted the house to be family-friendly and since we entertain a lot, we wanted it to be able to dress up or dress down depending on the event,” says James.

Due both to the additions and the property grade, the home has seven levels of living space. Up a few stairs from the living room is a spacious dining room, and down a few stairs is the gourmet kitchen, where the family spends most of its time.
“The owners wanted a sunroom feel in the kitchen,” says Price, gesturing to the French doors and wall-height windows that lead to the rear deck. Not only are they Andersen high-efficiency windows, but the owners specifically requested mullions on both the interior and exterior glass to suggest a traditional look. Enhancing the connection between inside and outside was one of the goals of the renovation, and the owners plan to add an outdoor entertainment area with a pool, Jacuzzi and outdoor fireplace in the next phase of renovations.

In the kitchen, gold walls give the space a warm, welcoming feel that is enhanced by a butter-colored ceramic tile floor (warmed by radiant heating), birch wood base cabinets topped by eggshell-colored and sepia-glazed wall cabinets, and Silestone countertops in the brown and gold flecked pattern Black Canyon. It’s a fine place to cook and eat, with GE Monogram appliances, a custom built-in Miele espresso machine and wine chiller, and a sunny nook for a table that seats six comfortably.

Raising the roof on the second floor of the home meant several full-fledged rooms could be created from less usable space— and with two children, James’ family needed the space. The front bedroom, which serves as a guest room, is cheerfully decorated in reds, blues and greens, and features a wrought-iron bed. Though it’s a small room, the vaulted ceiling, which is paneled in white beadboard, gives the space greater volume. “The owner had that idea,” says Price. “We had so many roofs from the years of additions that once we got them off, we were able to see what could be done with the space.”

Sunlight streams into the second-floor hallway thanks to two key elements implemented in the renovation: the formerly walled-in stairwell has become an open stairway bordered by cable railing similar to the exterior stairway leading to the front door. And sun tubes bring natural light down from the roof, illuminating the hall with an efficient and pleasing glow. “They really work well, and they’re a lot easier to do than a skylight,” says Price.

In the master bedroom suite, Price converted a small bedroom into a roomy walk-in closet reached by a short stairway, bumped out a window to create a larger seating area and added a curved deck outside the French doors. The master bathroom features an automated steam shower, towel warmer, skylight and a separate water closet with a stained-glass window inset with a nautilus shell. Just beyond the master bedroom, another set of stairs leads to the children’s wing, where bold and bright colors enliven simply decorated rooms.

Now that the renovation is complete, the family members have everything they wanted: a chic, comfortable home in a thriving sailing community. They can even see their sailboat from the house. 

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