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Change happens. That was a fact on the minds of architect Stephanie Cook and builder PJ Mueller as they worked on a home at the end of a peninsula where the Magothy River meets Cattail Creek. The project involved taking down the one-story house that had belonged to the owner’s family for generations and replacing it with a completely new one suited to the needs of a 21st-century family—a home that could accommodate the owners for a long time through different stages of life.
“Their goal from day one was ‘a house that we are comfortable in,’” explains Cook, senior architect with Speight Studio Architects, Inc. “And yes, we want it to be stunning, but at the end of the day, it has to be a home that’s comfortable to raise their family in.”
The first major change meant maximizing the water view of the property. The lot boasts views of the water from both the front and the back yard, so ensuring each room had a window that looked out over the river or the creek shouldn’t have been hard. But this did require one major adjustment. The original house sat at an angle where most of the sightlines to the water crossed a neighbor’s property. All it would take would be for a neighbor to plant a few trees or put up a fence to block that breathtaking view.
Cook points out that homeowners today have “a very different perspective on, a much greater appreciation of” waterfront property than past generations did. “Everyone who has waterfront property today wishes they could have a one-room-deep, multiple-room house. That’s always the goal—as much waterfront view as possible,” she says. “And in this case, they actually have water view on both sides.”
All it took to maximize this view was to rotate the footprint of the house about 45 degrees so that every room in the house looked directly onto the water. The architectural design, which could be described as a modified shingle-style structure, includes many elements that pay tribute to the idea of a waterfront cottage, such as long gables with dormers. But on a much grander scale, the design is functional for a busy, social, growing family—all without going too big.
“The house was really set up for family life but then transitioning into a place where you want to entertain and have people over,” says Mueller, president of Mueller Homes. “It speaks to family and friends. It’s functional and comfortable.”
At about 5,000 square feet of total living space, the first floor is dominated by a primary open living space that looks out over the backyard and the creek beyond. Shiplap and millwork give the home character without ever being overpowering—“just enough to impress,” as Mueller says. He notes that all the millwork in the house was installed by his team of on-staff carpenters, not contracted out.
The choice of materials throughout the house calls back to the cottage-like elements Cook incorporated into the architecture. “Hardie plank and natural stone veneer really complement the design Stephanie created with the client,” Mueller says. “We were able to amplify that with the selection of material and even the colors: the darker bronze windows with the cream-colored siding and the hints of the brown and the gray in the stones on the fireplace.” The choice of French white oak flooring throughout and quartz countertops in the kitchen give the home a sense of refinement, as do the kitchen’s solid maple cabinets installed by Kitchen Encounters. Kalyn Henderson, the in-house client concierge of Mueller Homes, worked with the homeowners on the interior design, coordinating finishes throughout the design.
The home has no shortage of practical space. Just off to the side of the primary living space on the first floor, a game room steps out into a screened-in porch for year-round function, which, in turn, leads out to a patio configured for entertaining. A spare room on the first floor on the other side of the house can be adapted for the family’s needs, says Cook. “It’s a room that will hopefully grow with the family,” she says. “While the kids are small, it’s a great playroom because it’s right off the kitchen. Eventually, it might be a home office or a study, and someday, it’s certainly capable of being a bedroom. It allows them to expand their time in the property.”
Indeed, change does happen—children grow into teenagers, or trees grow on a neighboring property, blocking views of the water. Whatever changes the future holds, Cook and Mueller created this home to accommodate this growing family. It’s a home that will remain functional, practical, welcoming, beautiful, and comfortable for years—and generations—to come.
Architecture: Stephanie Cook, Speight Studio Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.
Custom Builder: PJ Mueller, Mueller Homes, Annapolis, Maryland.
Kitchen Design: Kitchen Encounters, Annapolis, Maryland.
Landscape: Absolute Landscape & Turf Services, Dayton, Maryland.
Audio/Home Automation: Gramophone
Flooring: Elite Hardwood Flooring
Fireplace: Fireside Hearth & Home
Hardscape: Absolute Landscape & Turf Services
HVAC: A Quality
Lighting: Visual Comfort
Staircase: Taney Corp.
Tile: Charles Eckard & Sons
Windows & Doors: Loewen
Window Treatments: 3 Day Blinds
Built-ins: Charles Henry
© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 6 2023