When collector Anne Stone made the decision one day in 1997 to completely redo the home she’d lived in for 13 years, she acted with the same instincts and impulsiveness that have guided her acquisitions of antiques, crafts and fine art. “I made a lucky investment in a company a few years ago,” says the petite, pixie-like Stone. “I learned I would receive a large dividend, and redoing the house seemed the most fun thing to do with the money.”
She quickly chose her team: Architect Sarah Schweizer, whose in-laws live next door to Stone; and interior designer Rhea Arnot, simply because she came recommended by Schweizer.
Stone describes the starting point as “an unremarkable-looking rectangular house.” She could have sold it and built something new, she acknowledges, but this was the house where Stone, who is divorced, had reared two sons. It stands on four beautifully landscaped acres, and she loves her neighbors. “I couldn’t bear to leave,” she says. “But I was ready for the house to become something new.”
Stone quickly signed off on an open floor plan of bright, spacious rooms, a plan that required the demolition of all but the exterior shell of the house.
“There was an original design sketch, and the plan didn’t change much from there,” recalls Schweizer, who was working at the firm of Schamu Machowski Greco Architects at the time. That plan included a first-floor master suite, a front porch to give the house a country feel, and an open, airy kitchen to replace the out-of-date one, which was “essentially a hallway with appliances,” according to Schweizer. “Anne stated her wishes, and then stepped back and let us build her new home.”
Stone, 60, is familiar with trusting others to bring her ideas to form. A patron of craft artisans both local and national, she has been commissioning pieces for her homes in Baltimore County and on Martha’s Vineyard since 1992. Most of the commissions— a sideboard with silver chest by Massachusetts artisan Peter Shepard, for example— have been designed after Stone has met an artisan only once. “When I meet someone who makes beautiful things, I am sure that what they make for me will also be beautiful,” she says. “You have to have faith.”
Stone is a collector not only of craft furniture, but also of fine American antiques. “I love mixing my craft pieces with the antiques I’ve gathered— beautiful things are beautiful, regardless of age,” she says.
A large, mouth-blown amber bowl etched in white by California artist Mari-alyce Hawke, whom Stone met at the ACC Craft Show in Baltimore, stands on the dining table, and a collection of vases lining the living room mantel range from Crate & Barrel purchases to works by well-known artisan Josh Simpson. Framing the mantel are traditional pieces of Steuben glass that Stone inherited from her parents. Ornately carved crystal scenes such as a fishing Eskimo and a diving whale rest on electrically wired wooden stands and glow softly when illuminated.
Good timing— and good luck— led Stone to another area of the craft world: quilts. “I was driving on York Road and saw a sign at Towson University for a quilt show, and thought I’d have a look,” she recalls. “One stood out from all the others; the quality of the handiwork and design were stunning. I bought it on the spot.”
Stone’s instincts were on target again. Created by New York artisan Joan Lintault (recently recognized in Japan as one of the world’s foremost quilt makers), the vivid floral quilt has since been included in national tours.
The Lintault quilt was a focal point of the renovation, specifically the open stairwell that exposes a large wall for its display. Designer Arnot chose a neutral palette for the two-story living room, allowing more quilts, which hang above the fireplace and in the gallery above, to be the standouts.
In the dining room, Arnot’s talents as a rug designer took hold. Beginning with the color scheme and pattern of another quilt, Arnot composed a scene of flowers spilling out of a basket. The background echoes the quilt’s striped border. “Anne suffers terribly with allergies, and can’t have any plants or cut flowers in the house, so the rug is a way for her to enjoy flowers inside,” says Arnot, who is an avid gardener.
Her design, which is made up of an impressive 153 colors, all custom dyed (the average rug includes fewer than 20 hues), was formalized by Stark Carpets in Washington, D.C., then crafted of hand-tufted worsted wool in China. “The Chinese take a design and make it three-dimensional; they have a way of building rugs that no other weavers have,” explains Arnot. The floral design fits beautifully in the sun-drenched dining room, which faces the terrace and garden of the home.
Another space that brings the outdoors in is the enclosed breezeway between the living room and the master bedroom. This atrium-style room, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a wet bar, is an unconventional gathering space for entertaining, and has become a small art gallery. When architect Schweizer was determining the dimensions of the wall opposite the bar, Stone remembered a favorite Grace Hartigan painting, an impressionistic domestic scene she had admired at C. Grimaldis Gallery years earlier. Relying once again on her instincts, Stone called the gallery, and learned that the oil painting was still available. Schweizer sized the wall to accommodate it.
The collection of art that has joined the Hartigan in the breezeway is a testament to Stone’s eclectic style. There are three wrought-iron chairs from sculptor Ries Niemi, one depicting Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat,” another Albert Einstein, and the third, Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia. A wood sculpture of the front and back of a blouse by Ron Isaacs, and a pair of aluminum cowboy boots by Leonard Streckfus also have been added to the mix.
While the kitchen was once utilitarian at best, it is now the warm center of the home, with a pretty breakfast nook, a built-in desk and work space, and an artful serpentine island. “We all agreed that a rectangular island would be boring,” says Arnot. “So Sarah [Schweizer] and I stood in the kitchen with our builder, got out our pencils, and drew shapes until we came up with the perfect design.”
“The house has exceeded my expectations— the feeling of space and light, and how beautiful my things look in the spaces we chose for them is even better than I had hoped for,” raves Stone. “I don’t have much room left to add many more things, so I’m not collecting out of need anymore. But if I see something just wonderful… I guess I would just have to buy it out of love. Anything I buy for my new home, I buy it out of love.”