Spy House of the Week: “Riverhaven”: Ode to Joy


I know this house well since I was the buyer’s agent for my friend Joy several years ago. Over a long holiday weekend shortly after the closing, I helped Joy and another friend furnish the house. Joy had ordered some pieces from IKEA that needed assembly, a beautiful Stickley coffee table from Bay Star Consignments was perfect for the library and a sofa from my neighbor’s garage sale completed the library. Joy added some antique pieces inherited from a friend, art and accessories to make the house a home. Another friend drove down from New York City with boxes of books to stock the library shelves. In four days we fully furnished the house down to the cutlery in the kitchen drawers.  Joy’s intention was to rent the house for half a year and several tenants over the years enjoyed the serenity of “Riverhaven”.

When Joy visited, she invited her Mid-Atlantic gal pals for weekend parties.  During the late spring we reclined on the deck chairs and watched the Regatta on the Miles River. The sailboats began as tiny shapes on the horizon and grew larger and larger until they turned around at the buoy behind her house for the return to St. Michaels.  In the winter we enjoyed the library since all of us are avid readers and we enjoyed sitting by the wood burning fireplace and reading after dinner. Summer brought house parties with cook-outs on the spacious deck. Joy did not visit in the fall for how could one miss the splendor of the fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Joy loved architecture and had once been the Marketing Director for the American Institute of Architects in DC.  She and I would sketch ideas of how she could alter the house if Riverhaven became her retirement home. Joy preferred the ground floor front “Matisse” bedroom with its blue walls that was the perfect background for her colorful Matisse poster. The room had originally been two small bedrooms so having a “bed-sit” was perfect for her and her beloved dogs. We explored alternatives to renovate the downstairs bath or to add a bath to her suite.

Even though it has no water views, I love the cozy front library with its walls of books, wood-burning fireplace and front and side windows for sunlight. The open plan of the large “river room” that flows into the adjacent dining room with its side water views from the bay window was the perfect space for Joy’s house parties. Sliding doors lead to the rear deck that has plenty of room for al fresco dining and reclining on the chaise lounges. The deck wraps around the house to another “bed-sit” suite with its own sliding doors for direct access to the deck.

The  previous owner had added the “river room” and the spacious master suite above. Both the bedroom and bath have pitched ceilings and double windows for views to the river. The sill height above the double window over the long claw-foot tub was a tranquil spot for a long bubble bath and gazing at the boats along the river from the Patriot to the plethora of summer sailboats.

I shall miss my friend Joy’s visits but I hope someone else will appreciate its Miles River setting and the contrast between the original cottage’s cozy rooms with the addition’s spacious rooms.  It is a great house for guests since all of the bedrooms are located in different areas for privacy and the waterside river room and deck are delightful gathering spaces.

For more information about this property, contact Mary Haddaway with Benson and Mangold at 410-745-0415 (o), 410-924-8574 (c), or maryhaddaway@gmail.com,  “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

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.

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