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Most professional writers require special conditions to practice their craft. Maya Angelou wrote her masterpieces in a hotel room, equipped with nothing except a dictionary, a bottle of sherry, and a Bible. After writing all day, W. H. Auden had a stiff vodka martini at 6:30 p.m. Lucie Lehmann, columnist, editor, and author of Dishing Up Maryland, knew just what she required—peace, water, and a touch of the wild.
She found all three when she bought a vintage cottage on the Severn River in Winchester Beach, a woodsy enclave in Annapolis. After substantial remodeling by Lundberg Builders, the cottage has become a writer’s retreat, with window walls lining the entire length of the living room and part of the kitchen, which has a built-in breakfast bar/writing desk. The many personal touches include a “catio,” a patio with extra-wide shelves for her felines to relax upon.
Lehmann’s cats settled in just fine, but she faced a big problem—the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room needed some kind of covering. How does one accomplish this without sacrificing the view, which, to a writer, is almost as important as food? Early on in the project, during the construction phase, she called Margaret Blunt, who had helped her decorate the interior of her previous home.
Blunt, owner of Sew Beautiful, notes that finding the right window treatments for a waterfront home is always challenging. After conferring with project designer Ronnie Harmon and project manager Amy Publicover, she designed floor to ceiling sheer window treatments with precise stitching, a narrow, embroidered pinstripe, and lightweight composition. “The sheer fabric for the draperies was chosen for its subtleness, not only to frame the view but also to provide a quiet backdrop allowing the outside to blend with the colorful blues and greens of the interior furnishings,” she says.
When closed, the curtains allow filtered light into the room and permit partial views. The diaphanous panels are subtle conduits of information. Lehmann knows what the river is like just by watching the curtains move. “The wind rises from the river, carrying the shape of water,” she observes. Sometimes the panels barely move. At other times, they billow freely, ushering the wind inside.
The window treatments work well. However, Lehmann wondered what to do with the rest of the space. Though the curtains were a neutral, she did not want a monotone home. “Color is very important to me; I can’t imagine a black and white world. I crave it in my own house,” she says, adding that she is especially inspired by nature’s greens and blues.
Blunt and her team stepped right in. “It was a hard room to furnish as it is oddly shaped… we focused on coordinating the fabrics,” recalls Blunt. They reupholstered the settee in bold chartreuse and integrated shades of green and blue into fabrics for the couch
Lehmann’s retreat has an added dimension: living color. She landscaped her yard with lush native plantings and strategically positioned birdbaths, custom feeders, bluebird houses, and an osprey platform around the premises.
The sheer window treatments allow her to observe the natural world that sometimes merges with her own. Woodpeckers, goldfinch, wrens, and seven bluebirds cross her vision daily like beautiful thoughts. All seven bluebirds perch on the railing to greet her daily, she says. Tiny Buffalo Head ducks dive merrily in the icy waters just beyond her dock. There are so much drama and so many wildlife families to follow; it may be hard to write, or rather, in Lehmann’s case, perhaps hard not to.
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 11, No. 2 2020