It is always a pleasure to return to one of my favorite Talbot County neighborhoods, Cooke’s Hope. The 450 acre neighborhood is named after Major Miles Cooke, and was part of a land grant from Lord Baron of Baltimore in 1659. I schedule my House of the Week feature during warm weather so I can enjoy driving along the tree lined entry drive past the pastoral scene of belted cows contentedly grazing in the fields.
As an architect with work experience in planning new neighborhoods, I greatly admire the site layout with its emphasis on open space including five miles of walking trails through wooded areas and fields and ponds with abundant wildlife. No grid streets here-only meandering streets that control traffic. The sidewalks are shaded by mature trees to encourage walking and interaction with neighbors relaxing on their front porches. For athletic pursuits, there are tennis courts, a putting green, fitness center and community dock. For less strenuous exercise, there are parks, including a park to enjoy with one’s four-legged companions. Since the development began in 1998, one of the most important amenities of this neighborhood are the mature trees that enhance the streetscapes.
Today’s property has a very desirable location on a circular street at the top corner of the neighborhood’s boundary. Beyond the rear yard is a protected commons area against a backdrop of woods. The builder of this house gets high marks from me for aligning the front wall of the garage with the rear wall of the house, which also creates a deep driveway to accommodate guest parking. As I walked up the brick sidewalk, I noticed the walkway design continued the herringbone pattern with a brick border of the street’s sidewalk. At the porch floor, the brick changes to a basket weave pattern.
The house has charming curb appeal with its traditional style architecture, enhanced by the front gable portion with a bay window projection at the main floor and two setbacks that both break down the massing and also provide a four-bay covered porch at the main floor. The house’s classic exterior color palette of its brick foundation, white siding and dark operable shutters is framed by a tall crape myrtle at one front corner and a flowering vine that arcs over the end bays of the porch. I admired how well the scale of the low shrubbery complements the house so one can relax on the porch’s Chippendale benches and greet neighbors on their daily strolls.
The floor plan is a center hall design, slightly modified to add a full bath and powder room on one side of the foyer. The vista from the front door ends at the spacious living room, which also has space for an informal dining area and an exquisite antique harpsichord.
Before I explored the rest of the main floor, I was drawn to the wide arched opening at the rear wall of the living room that leads to the three-bay sunroom with brick floors. The rear wall of the sunroom is infilled with wide floor to ceiling arched windows on either side of arched French doors that provide views of the pool area with a mix of hardscape and plantings. After walking around the pool area, I returned to the foyer to continue my tour. Off the foyer is the dining room at one front corner of the house and the primary suite at the other front corner.
The primary suite has two baths, one of which is located next to the powder room off the foyer and the larger bath has both a shower and soaking tub with views of the pool area. The spacious bedroom has two windows on each exterior wall and ample space to accommodate the bed, a loveseat and a chest with circulation space. Between the bedroom and the larger bath is a hall between walk-in closets.
The dining room’s box bay window on the exterior wall creates a nook for a side table, part of the Owners’ collection of antique furnishings, including the elegant Hepplewhite dining table and chairs and a Pennsylvania Dutch high chair for the wee ones. The deep caramel color of the walls accentuates the white moldings including a coffered ceiling with the beams trimmed in egg & dart molding, the chair rail around the room and the corner paneling at each corner of the box bay.
Behind the dining room is the kitchen, which is part of the open plan at the rear of the house. The neutral colored cabinets, dark granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and the efficient prep and cooking areas due to the “L” shape and island arrangement would please any cook.
Since my home has only a stack W/D set into an alcove, I coveted this house’s mudroom and adjacent laundry. The mudroom has doors to both the garage and the rear yard and the room is furnished with a deacon’s bench, shallow table and hooks for coats. The easy care brick floor and wood white beadboard wainscot is accented by light green walls and the French door and a side window bring sunlight into the room. The laundry also has a window and the sink next to the side by side washer dryer for ease of clean up after a daily dip in the pool.
The stairs to the second floor overlook the open plan kitchen-informal dining-living area. As we ascended the stairs, the Owner pointed out how much she appreciates that the builder added a handrail at the wall side of the stairs, which is a thoughtful detail not often provided and how the wainscot is a continuation of the paneled wall in the music corner of the living room. The stairs lead to a huge open area that could be a family room/game room with space for a pool or ping-pong table, a table and chairs for board games under the double-unit dormer at the rear of the house and a wrap-around sofa opposite the TV on the interior wall.
The second floor has three bedrooms and two baths, one of which is located off the hall. If I were a guest, I would not mind sharing a bathroom so I could claim the middle bedroom. I would sink into the loveseat to watch the TV that is inset into built-in cabinetry for storage or enjoy this bedroom’s bonus of the exterior balcony located over part of the front porch below.
This house was built to the highest quality of finishes and standards of craftsmanship, including functional wood shutters, moldings, paneling and trim, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, built-in millwork in many rooms and plantation shutters. The rear fenced yard is a private retreat with the pool and hardscaped areas for relaxing after a swim or an al-fresco meal. After sunset, the planting areas around the pool are uplit to enhance a last dip in the pool/spa combination as you are soothed by the sound of the waterfall feature. The gate in the fenced backyard leads to the community open space that connects to the walking trails. All this on a quiet circular street at the edge of one of Talbot County’s most desirable neighborhoods!
For more information about this property, contact Bob Shanahan with Shoreline Realty, Inc, at 410-822-7556 (o) 410-310-5745 (c) or [email protected]. For more photographs and pricing, visit www.shorelinerealty.biz , “Equal Housing Opportunity”.
For information about Cooke’s Hope, visit www.cookeshope.org
Jennifer Martella has pursued dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. She has reestablished her architectural practice for residential and commercial projects and is a referral agent for Meredith Fine Properties. Her Italian heritage led her to Piazza Italian Market, where she hosts wine tastings every Friday and Saturday afternoons.