Doncaster is a neighborhood I know well, since my sister and several friends live there. The neighborhood is private and quiet because there is no outlet for traffic, which makes it safe for walking and biking. After a recent visit, I took a walk to take a tour of today’s featured property and I slowed my pace to admire the exquisite original manor house that set the bar for architectural styles in the neighborhood. I continued my walk and turned down a meandering gravel drive to arrive at this waterfront house set back deep in its lot with mature landscaping for privacy. The drive becomes circular around the house for guest parking
Before going in, I walked around the house and discovered the house footprint is an “L” shape around a waterside pool surrounded by a brick terrace. The primary suite is located at the short end of the “L” and the living room, dining room and kitchen also face the water. At the inside corner of the rear elevation there is a bay projection infilled with sliding doors and windows to the living room.
Unfortunately, the height of the main level finish floor elevation resulted in three sets of steps leading down from the primary suite, living room and kitchen to the pool area to create an indoor/outdoor flow. At each flight of steps, the top landing is only the depth of a step; even with sliding doors, a deeper landing depth would be easier for indoor/outdoor flow. Eliminating the three flights of steps and replacing the hardscape where the steps were with plantings would soften the expanse of the brick pool surround. New steps of composite decking with a larger landing could be built at one location, preferably the dining room.
The front door opens to a spacious foyer with “U” shaped stairs at one side to the second floor suite and a short hall to a hall bath and two bedrooms on the other side. The deep recess in the wall that is the width of the hall above frames the view of the living room.
Behind the foyer is the living room with a fireplace on the interior wall, built-in millwork and French doors leading to an office/study with built-in millwork. Replacing the sliding doors with shorter windows would create a sunny spot for enjoying the water views while sitting on club chairs that could swivel facing the water views or toward the seating around the fireplace. Another option would be to add a window seat along the angled wall for additional seating.
The office/study’s exterior angled wall has windows set at just the right height to place one’s desk.
From the living room, steps lead up to the dining room with four-unit windows on both the front and rear walls. Since the steps are located at the rear wall, that wall becomes the circulation path between the living room and kitchen. In my opinion as an architect, replacing the dining room rear windows with sliding doors and new composite steps down to the pool area would work well.
Next to the dining room is the kitchen, with the best view of the water from the rear wall’s sliding doors flanked by full height windows to the steps leading to the pool area. This wall is another circulation space that could be changed by moving the sliding doors to the dining room and relocating the dining room windows to the kitchen. Then you could have a waterside breakfast area or add seating for guests to keep the cook company. In my kitchen, I have a cozy seating area with a loveseat and two chairs so I can enjoy talking with my guests while I finish cooking.
The gambrel ceiling creates a pleasant volume for the kitchen. At the front wall of the house, the four-unit window with an arched transom is located over the stairs to the garage below. The sink and dishwasher are located below the high backsplash. I would relocate the sink and dishwasher so the high backsplash could be lowered to a standard 4” height. This would enable the front window above the stairs to be fully seen from the kitchen and maximize the views of the front yard’s landscaping. Leaving the island color as an accent, painting the other cabinets a light color and a new countertop in a lighter color are relatively easy upgrades that would dramatically change this room and make the beautiful wood floors stand out.
Next to the kitchen is a full bath at the rear corner of the house, laundry and closets. The exterior wall along these rooms has a four-unit window with quarter circle transoms above the two center windows but the wall between the bath and laundry cuts off one end window in the row on the interior. Since there is another full bath on this level, removing the shower and relocating the toilet to the former shower space would free up the side window arrangement and provide direct access from the half bath to the laundry for drying towels and swimsuits. The washer, dryer and laundry sink would be relocated at the interior wall.
The remainder of the first floor contains two bedrooms and a hall bath off the foyer and the primary suite at the rear of the house. The primary suite includes a four-piece bath, both a hall closet and walk-in closet, and the waterside bedroom.
The bedroom’s gambrel shaped ceiling adds spatial volume and windows on all three exterior walls provide sunlight throughout the day. The rear wall has a fireplace flanked by single windows. Removing the steps to the pool area, replacing the sliding doors with windows and moving the chairs against the windows would create a cozy area for direct water views.
At the end of the hall on the second floor is a bedroom at the corner of the house where two roof gables intersect. This geometry results in knee walls and sloped ceilings that creates a delightful space and between the side exterior wall is a seat under the window. To me, the room would be enhanced and would seem larger if the aqua color were used only for the walls and the white ceiling would reflect more light.
Wonderful waterside property with mature trees and privacy in one of my favorite neighborhoods, main level primary suite, spacious rooms with beautiful hardwood floors and convenient location to both Easton and St. Michaels. Creative planning and upgrades to the house to suit one’s taste could be master planned to suit one’s budget.
For more information about this property, contact Amy Berry with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-745-8060 (o), 410-310-0441 (c) or [email protected]. For more photographs and pricing visit www.talbotfinehomes.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity.”
Jennifer Martella is an architect with Bohl Architects’ Annapolis office and a referral agent for Meredith Fine Properties. Jennifer is an integral part of Bohl Architects’ design team for projects she brings to the firm. She is also the writer of Bohl’s website’s bi-monthly blog “Tango Funhouse” where she highlights the firm’s vision and other fun aspects of life by design. Her Italian heritage led her to Piazza Italian Market, where she hosts wine tastings every Friday and Saturday.