Steve and Bonsal Brown wanted solitude. Room to breathe. High ceilings and horse country. So in 2007 they left their condo in a Baltimore City high-rise for a six-acre property adjacent to Prettyboy Reservoir in Hampstead. There, Steve, a Baltimore-based architect, designed a 2,000-square-foot modernist-inspired home that blends seamlessly into the landscape.
“We wanted it to be a sanctuary, very peaceful and private,” says Steve. Though the property is expansive, the Browns did not want a rambling country manor. They wanted every room in the house to be used, and figured if they ever needed more space, they’d add on. To that end, the house has no formal dining room. Instead, a marble countertop in the kitchen/great room functions as a banquet table with seating for seven. It’s also a staging area for family breakfasts or soirees in the comfortable adjoining great room, with its clean-lined modernist furniture and cheetah print pillows.
Surrounding the kitchen/great room in the open, rectangular floor plan is a master bedroom, his and hers bathrooms, a large storage space that doubles as a dressing room and a den. The design features very few doors or closed-off spaces, making movement as free flowing as a stroll through the backyard Bonsal designed according to the principles of feng shui.
In addition to building a home tailor-made for their space needs, the couple wanted to create a canvas for their art and antique collection. There is palpable excitement in Bonsal’s voice as she draws attention to a colorful painting of a cow by Baltimore County artist Susan Wolfe Huppman that hangs over a couch in the den. Bonsal, a manager with PNC Bank, has an impressive collection of rustic antique wardrobes that house everything from family knick-knacks to an impressive vintage bar set. She also created several of the outdoor sculptures on the property. And throughout the home are equine details and historical family portraits. The Browns are horse lovers and riders and appreciate the property’s direct access to riding trails.
As much as they love their home, the Browns may enjoy the outside even more.
The large grill and weather-worn table and chairs on the ipe deck have been the scene of countless sunsets and meals shared with family and friends. From there, the view is beautiful all year. In late fall and winter, the Browns can see the reservoir through the leafless trees. In summer, a meadow of wildflowers is set against the forest beyond.
“It’s kind of like being on vacation every day,” says Bonsal.