This exquisite Victorian house and grounds have had a varied and intriguing history as a country parsonage, a B&B whose owners Carol and Hugo Rizzoli chronicled their two-year restoration in their book “The House at Royal Oak” and private residences. This property has always been a favorite of mine so it was a special treat for me to visit the house and grounds. The corner lot has two gravel driveways for off-street parking; one off the side street and the other at the edge of the property leading to the original garage. This location maximizes the area for the house and the extensive natural and formal gardens lovingly maintained by its current owner who is English and shares her native country’s passion for gardening.
I visited the property on a hot muggy day but after walking down the brick path from the driveway I was immediately cooled in the side and rear gardens shaded by towering trees. Hostas and other shade loving plants add color and texture and two Adirondack chairs are strategically placed at a break in the rear landscape for an open vista to the fields beyond. Other opportunities to enjoy being outdoors are the front porch and the delightful semi-octagonal second floor screened porch.
The white exterior color palette with accent of blue shutters stands out against the verdant green of the landscape and the red brick paths encourage strolling the grounds. The front elevation has a steep pitched roof with an arched accent window at the attic level flanked below by two windows on the second floor. At the main level, two windows and the side front door open onto the full front porch with a hipped roof. The side elevation from the brick walkaway is equally appealing and articulated by the front porch, the bay window of the front parlor, the side porch to the kitchen area and the shed roof of the laundry/utility room with its own exterior door.
Enticing vistas throughout the house encourage exploring. The front door opens to a foyer with a vista to the sitting-dining-kitchen area beyond and a cross vista to the bay window in the front parlor. Long windows bring sunlight in throughout the day. I can easily imagine how much the B&B guests would have lingered in the dining area after a meal in the additional seating grouped around the fireplace.
I loved the “L’ shaped kitchen arrangement with an island to separate the food prep from the seating area. The combination of open shelves, glass fronted upper cabinets and the window over the farmhouse sink keeps this space bright and the bar stools at the island are the perfect perch for a midnight snack. Behind the kitchen are two rooms that could become a master suite since there is a full bath from the B&B days. The room under the semi-octagonal shaped porch above could be a cozy sitting room and it has an exterior door for a last walk with the dog before bedtime.
The stairs from the foyer lead to two bedroom suites, one at the front of the house and the other at the rear with two bedrooms connected by a hall with two baths. The rear bedroom would make a perfect bedroom since it has a French door to the delightful screened porch. All the porch lacks is a hammock for an afternoon nap or summertime sleeping after watching the sunset.
“Charming” seems inadequate to describe this exquisite house and grounds but charming indeed it is-the next owners will become lucky stewards of one of Royal Oak’s gems.
For more information about this property, contact Debra Crouch with Benson & Mangold Real Estate at 410-745-0720 (o), 410-924-0771 (c) or firstname.lastname@example.org, “Equal Housing Opportunity”. Photography by Janelle Stroop, Thru the Lens, 845-744-2758, Janelle@Thruthelensphotos.com,
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.